The Herald Bulletin

August 7, 2013

Stewart's injury forces scramble

By Ken de la Bastide
CNHI News Service

---- — Tony Stewart’s broken leg this week in a sprint car race in Iowa is going to scramble the race for teams hoping to make the NASCAR Chase for the title.

His team has announced that Stewart will miss the Sprint Cup race this weekend at Watkins Glen as a result of the injury, but in reality it will be difficult for “Smoke” to climb into a race car anytime in the near future.

With five races remaining before the Chase, Stewart was in a strong position to claim one of the two wild card spots for the chase. He currently was 11th in points with one victory, but was only five points behind Greg Biffle for the 10th spot.

NASCAR rules has the top 10 drivers in points locked into the Chase and the two wild card positions available to drivers in the 11th through 20th positions, based on wins.

Here’s where the final five races will get interesting. Defending champion Brad Keselowski is currently 12th in the points race, only seven behind Biffle and 20 points within Kasey Kahne in the eight spot.

Two drivers outside the top 10 at the moment are Martin Truex Jr. at 14th and Ryan Newman in the 15th position, both have recorded a victory. Newman is 24 points behind Biffle and Truex is 15 markers outside the top 10.

Jeff Gordon is on the bubble, sitting ninth in the point standings, but without a victory in 2013. The only other drivers in the top 10 without a win are Clint Bowyer, second in points, and Dale Earnhardt Jr., currently fifth in the standings.

David Ragan with a win at Talladega is sitting 26th in the point standings and not likely to break into the top 20. He has a lot of drivers to climb over to claim one of the wild card positions.

In order to make the Chase field, it appears that Gordon and Keselowski are going to need a victory in at least one of the final five races.

Both can still hope to finish within the top 10 in points, but a win will make their contending for the championship a lot stronger.

Right now it appears that Hendrick Motorsports is poised to have four drivers in the chase: Jimmie Johnson, Little E, Kahne and Gordon. Joe Gibbs Racing should be represented by two drivers, Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth. Roush-Fenway may have Edwards and Biffle in the Chase.

I was sorry to hear of Stewart’s injury in his third crash in the past month while racing a sprint car on dirt. Stewart has to be admired for continuing to race at dirt tracks, where he got his start.

His injury makes it more understandable why car owners don’t encourage their Sprint Cup drivers to compete in other races.

In other racing news: Congratulations to Charlie Kimball for his IZOD IndyCar win at the tough Mid-Ohio road course last Sunday.

Kimball used a three-pit-stop strategy to record his first career victory.

Instead of playing the fuel mileage strategy, Kimball’s team instructed him to race hard for the entire distance.

The Champion Racing Association Top Speed Fabrications Late Model Sportsman will make its final visit to Anderson Speedway on Saturday for a 75-lap feature event.

Winning at Anderson this year have been Trey Craig, Jason Atkinson and Chris Hacker.

Racing starts at 8 p.m.