Five races into the NASCAR Sprint Cup 2015 Season and intrigue, drama, and suspense thickens.
No surprise that Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick, the current Sprint Cup Champion, is atop the points at this juncture. His momentum carried solidly over from 2014. The team is full of confidence; their team is a well-oiled machine like their No. 4 Chevrolet.
What is a surprise is how poorly team owner of Harvick’s car, Tony Stewart, is performing. After two years of disappointment and personal setbacks, Stewart claimed this was his year to put his past behind him and get back to being the driver he once was. So far there has been little evidence of this happening.
Stewart has little to point at except himself. Harvick is running exceptionally well, the class of the field. And the No. 41 car of Kurt Busch is also running extraordinarily well. Harvick and Busch are excellent jockeys like Stewart is classified, but Stewart cannot seem to get back his magic.
Some say, “Wait until the mercury rises, then Stewart will hit his mark.” For Stewart’s sake and the sake of his fans, I hope they’re right. It just seems the leg injury of nearly two years ago has left Stewart with a deficit he has yet to overcome.
Stewart currently sits 32nd in points.
Busch is having the most bizarre year of his career. Sidelined for the first three races of the 2015 season for reasons not having to do with racing, Busch was allowed back into his ride for Phoenix. He brought the car home in fifth.
This past weekend Busch captured the pole at Auto Club Speedway and was vying for the win for the entire day when a late race caution cost him the victory. Regardless, Busch ended the day in third.
NASCAR has stated it will allow Kurt Busch to compete in the Chase if he qualifies for it, but many feel Busch isn’t given a fair shot by NASCAR.
Meanwhile, Busch sits in 28th in the Driver’s Standings, four spots higher than his team owner Stewart who has competed in all five of the races.
Danica Patrick, the fourth driver at Stewart-Haas Racing, has had a mediocre season to date and currently sits 23rd in points.
With SHR seeming to be the class of the field with two of their cars and “also-rans” in the other two, there seems to be something weird going on over there.
The media, the tracks, NASCAR, and the crowds are giving mad props to Jeff Gordon who announced earlier this season that this would be his last full time season in Cup. He’s not retiring, but he won’t be competing in the 36 races that comprise a full season any longer after this year.
Gordon, who has been vying for Championships regularly in recent years, has had a rocky start to 2015 and currently sits 22nd in points.
It’s a great time to drive for Penske Racing, especially if your name is Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano. Both drivers have already scored a win guaranteeing them spots in the end of the season Chase for the Championship. The drivers are strong contenders week in and out for a win and sit fifth and second in points respectively.
It is not a good thing to be Brian Vickers. Vickers, who is employed by Michael Waltrip Racing as the driver of the No. 55, announced over the weekend that he would once again be out of the cockpit for at least three months with more blood clots. Blood thinners are the prescription for Vickers and that is not conducive to running long races in a hot racecar every weekend. This chronic problem has plagued Vickers for years.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans are on a roller coaster of emotions with their favorite driver. Earnhardt Jr. ran so well at the start of the season capturing two third place finishes and then a fourth before he nose-dived with a 43rd (last) place finish in Phoenix. Earnhardt Jr. rebounded with a sixth place finish in California.
As the action returns to the east coast and Martinsville for some short track racing this weekend, Junior Nation hopes their driver can capture the same magic that led him to a victory last fall at this track.
Earnhardt Jr. sits fourth in the points.
Martin Truex Jr. driving for the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team has a lot to smile about right now. He sits third in the points.
Ryan Newman and Paul Menard, drivers for Richard Childress Racing, are comfortable in sixth and ninth place in the standings right now. Their consistency could pay off hugely in the end, but both are desperately looking for and in need of a win to pop into the Chase easily.
Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne are sitting pretty in seventh and eighth respectively. Johnson has already had a win this season at Atlanta, but Kahne needs a morale boosting win for his No. 5 team.
Finally, Aric Almirola of Richard Petty Motorsports has quietly put his No. 43 team solidly 10th in points. No doubt he is hoping to earn more wins after his victory at Daytona last July.
With only five races run to date the excitement in NASCAR’s top series is literally just getting started. But, with the headlines as jaw-dropping as they’ve been, what more can we be in for in the future?
We’ll just have to keep tuning in to find out!