We may never witness another driver accomplish this goal in our lifetime. To put this in perspective, Kyle Busch, at 26 years old, would need to win about five races per season for the next 14 seasons to reach Gordon’s goal by the time he is 40, Gordon’s current age.
Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch are realistically the only drivers who could potentially reach that goal. Johnson has 54 career wins while Busch has 23. The advantage for Busch is that he is 26 years old.
Gordon is already a legend with four championships and he could very well win his fifth championship this season.
Gordon passed Johnson with 50 laps to go in the race. Johnson battled hard the last three laps, pushing his car to the edge, trying to gain on Gordon. However, his effort wasn’t enough to pass the four-time champion. Gordon will head to Richmond International Raceway sitting comfortably in fifth position in the points standings. Johnson currently holds the points lead.
Chase Hopes Slipping Away
Clint Bowyer didn’t have the finish he was looking for Tuesday, just one race before the cut off for the Sprint Cup Chase. Bowyer started on the front row, and ran quietly in the top 15 for most of the race. But, after an on-track incident involving Juan Pablo Montoya, Bowyer finished in 36th position and dropped two positions in points. With 83 laps to-go, Bowyer went high coming off of Turn-4, cutting off Montoya and hitting the wall. Bowyer acted as though Montoya purposely wrecked him. However, after watching replays, it seems that Bowyer didn’t realize he was there. Fueling the speculation that it was indeed intentional was video showing Bowyer and Montoya getting together two laps before the incident.
However you look at it, both drivers were not happy after the race. “You can’t race around the jackass,” Bowyer said of Montoya. “You never can. Anybody in this sport knows what you’re up against when the No. 42 comes up.” Montoya had a different view of the incident. “I was there,” Montoya said. “I think he thought I wasn’t there. I don’t know. Two laps before, the same thing – I got inside of him and he turned like I wasn’t there and we touched.”
To make the Chase, Bowyer now has to win at Richmond and have Denny Hamlin finish eighth or worse. Fortunately for Bowyer, he has good statistics at Richmond, with one win and six top-fives.
Dale Jr’s Chase Outlook
When Dale Earnhardt Jr is asked about making the chase, he doesn’t seemed too concerned. However, after a 19th place finish at Atlanta, he knows he needs to run better if he’s going to contend for a championship.
“I don’t have room to worry about it, as bad as we have been running. We need to get our crap together and get to running good, or it doesn’t matter where we are in the Chase and doesn’t matter if we are in or not.” Although Earnhardt didn’t have the day he was hoping for, he still holds ninth position in points. For Earnhardt Jr to make the chase, he has to finish 20th or better at Richmond.
One thing Earnhardt doesn’t have to worry about is where he’ll be racing for the next six years. Hendrick Motorsports signed Junior to a five-year contract extension, not waiting until the end of his contract in 2012 to seal the deal. He will be in the No. 88 car until the end of the 2017 season.
Heading into Richmond on Saturday, nine drivers are locked into the Chase: Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman and Brad Keselowski. Tony Stewart, finishing third at Atlanta, must finish 18th or better at Richmond to clinch a spot. Brad Keselowski is locked in from his wild-card. Other drivers in the top-20 such as, AJ Allmendinger, Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle and Martin Truex Jr could take the wild-card from Hamlin, if they were to win the race and have Hamlin finish poorly.