By: Pete Pistone – @PPistone | MRN.com on July 12, 2017 | 10:forty five A.M. EST&#thirteen;
With eight races left within the common season, can one in every of these drivers rating a win to make the playoffs? (Photograph: Getty Photographs)&#thirteen;
A berth within the playoffs is shortly turning into a dream for a number of prime drivers within the Monster Power NASCAR Cup Collection.
There at the moment are simply eight races left within the common season and ten drivers have clinched in a berth within the playoffs by profitable. Six spots stay on this yr’s subject however until these drivers can throw a “Hail Mary” over the subsequent a number of weeks, their championship hopes have all however evaporated in 2017:
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
It seems inconceivable for Earnhardt Jr. to make the playoffs with out profitable a race. He’s twenty first within the level standings and buried again far sufficient behind the present playoff grid that Victory Lane is realistically his solely avenue into the submit-season. Nevertheless it’s exhausting to generate a lot optimism for Earnhardt Jr. to perform that aim taking a look at his efficiency thus far. His greatest probability at profitable was two weeks in the past at Daytona and with that chance gone, it’s going to take an unlimited step ahead in effort and greater than possible a technique name for Earnhardt Jr. to finish his full-time NASCAR profession as a playoff driver.
Whereas it’s clear Earnhardt Jr. will depart Hendrick Motorsports on the finish of the yr and head into retirement, Kahne’s return to the group is something however in focus. Whereas he has one other yr on his deal, the rumblings across the storage space have Kahne very a lot within the scorching seat. A win can also be his solely viable option to make the playoffs and stave off the rumors of a potential early exit from Hendrick. But in addition like Earnhardt Jr., there isn’t a lot to level at over the primary 18 races of the yr to consider Kahne’s on the doorstep of Victory Lane.
One other driver who’s identify is entrance and middle within the “Foolish Season” dialogue is Menard, who has his two Richard Childress Racing teammates Ryan Newman and Austin Dillon already within the playoff subject because of their victories. Menard is a former Brickyard four hundred winner so his greatest probability may come at Indianapolis in two weeks. Nevertheless it’s onerous to recollect a weekend all yr when the No. 27 group was aggressive and within the combine for victory.
Roush Fenway Racing has already exceeded most expectations by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. profitable two occasions this yr. Bayne began the yr off nicely however issues have been trending downward during the last a number of weeks in an enormous means. Since ending tenth at Kansas on Mom’s Day weekend, Bayne’s greatest efficiency has been sixteenth within the Coca-Cola 600. As was the case for Earnhardt Jr., Bayne’s greatest shot at a win got here and went with Daytona.
The “Hail Mary” state of affairs matches completely with Allmendinger, who should put all his playoff eggs within the Watkins Glen basket when it rolls round on the schedule subsequent month. Allmendinger pulled it off three years in the past and can little question be within the combine once more this yr. However the strain shall be on to the very best diploma for the JTG Daugherty Racing driver and will probably be an fascinating story to comply with on whether or not he can rise to the event and salvage the season.
The opinions expressed listed here are these of the author and don’t essentially mirror the positions of the Motor Racing Community.