ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Five non-Chase NASCAR stories for the final 10 races

Updated on September 8, 2014
The NASCAR season continues for all 43 teams, not just the 16 Chasers
The NASCAR season continues for all 43 teams, not just the 16 Chasers | Source

With NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup getting ready to kick off this weekend in Chicago, almost all of the stock car racing world is focused on the 16 drivers competing for a championship. The other 27 drivers will find themselves an afterthought on a weekly basis. But just because the chance for a title is gone doesn't mean the remaining teams do not have something to fight for. Another Left Turn looks at five stories worth following as the season heads to its conclusion.

Can McMurray get on a roll that launches him to the 2015 Chase?
Can McMurray get on a roll that launches him to the 2015 Chase? | Source

#1. Which driver will launch their 2015 season over the final 10 races of 2014?

It happens every year. A driver left out of the Chase buckles down and finds the kind of speed that can launch a team the following year. In 2012, Kyle Busch just missed out on making NASCAR's playoffs. The failure could have doomed the team to mediocrity. Instead, Busch scored seven top five finishes in ten races and had the best season-ending run of his career. The #18 team carried that momentum into 2013, where Kyle finished fourth in points- the best of his career. Last year, Brad Keselowski likewise missed out on the Chase but captured five top ten finishes and his only win of the season during the Chase. This year, he won four races and took the top overall Chase seed.

So it's highly likely that some driver left out of this year's Chase will make themselves heard this year. One interesting candidate for the run is Kyle Larson. The rookie nearly snuck into the Chase at Richmond and has been in the hunt on more than one occasion this season. His teammate, Jamie McMurray, is another possibility. With Hendrick power under the hood, both will have the kind of horsepower needed to get on a run.

Stewart will have plenty on his mind- and on his plate- in the month ahead
Stewart will have plenty on his mind- and on his plate- in the month ahead | Source

#2. What now for Smoke?

The Ontario County Sheriff's Department recently announced that their investigation into the death of Sprint Car driver Kevin Ward Jr. will continue for at least another week or two. Yet their office seems loathe to charge Stewart with a crime based on their announcements to date. In fact, they went so far as to say that they knew of nothing to justify criminal charges at this point.

Yet their investigation will ultimately be turned over to the District Attorney's office for a final determination. The DA's decision will be as much a political one as it is a criminal one. Mr. Tantillo hasn't yet indicated which way he's leaning. Will he risk filing no charges and the accompanying political heat for dispensing more “celebrity justice”? Or will he file charges that the evidence may not fully support and risk a loser case in court? The next month should provide an answer.

Kyle Larson (left) and Austin Dillon seem to be the front-runners for 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup rookie of the year
Kyle Larson (left) and Austin Dillon seem to be the front-runners for 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup rookie of the year | Source
Justin Allgaier has an outside shot to beat the favorites
Justin Allgaier has an outside shot to beat the favorites | Source

#3. Who's going to be the rookie of the year?

With both Kyle Larson and Austin Dillon missing out on the Chase, the race to be top rookie is the main prize ahead of both drivers. Justin Allgaier has an outside shot to make it interesting as a three way race as well. Three of his best four finishes this year have come in the last six weeks and as Harry Scott's team starts visiting tracks for a second and third time, the results should be even better.

Dillon brought the #3 back to Sprint Cup racing with much fanfare earlier this year, starting on the pole at Daytona. But it has been Larson who's shown the most speed of late- and done so in a year that many thought might end up being a year too early for the young driver. Can he hold off Dillon over the final ten weeks? Or will Dillon break through and give #3 fans the first of many trophies to come?

#4. Can Michael Waltrip Racing start its long climb back?

After finishing an exhausting third place at Richmond, Clint Bowyer admitted that even if he made the Chase, he was no threat to win a title. Toyota in general and MWR in particular has seemed a step slow compared to the Penske Fords and Hendrick Chevys. The teams may still be struggling from TRD's decision to dial back the horsepower in favor of reliability a year ago (despite protestations to the contrary). To finish first, the teams have to first finish, putting a damper on the risk-taking that often leads to the last hundredths of a second that separate winning from 20th place.

But MWR has suffered more than the average Toyota team. They lost a major sponsor, suffered tremendous public embarrassment, and have one fewer driver contributing data at the track every weekend. The team has looked far more like its 2007-2011 self than the rising power it has been since Bowyer joined in 2011. Can Clint and Company find what they've been missing with the pressure off?

Patrick has been doing better of late. But is it good enough to save her ride at SHR?
Patrick has been doing better of late. But is it good enough to save her ride at SHR? | Source

#5. Will Danica Patrick finally earn her place at Stewart Haas Racing?

Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch are both safely in the Chase. Without the tragic events of early August, it's likely that team owner Tony Stewart would have been there are well. The team's fourth driver, Patrick, remains viewed by many as an undertalented driver taking up an elite ride based solely on her sex appeal. And while her contract with the team goes through 2015, her sponsorship with GoDaddy is up for renewal at the end of this year.

Patrick sits a disappointing 28th in series points as of today- two spots behind Stewart, who's missed three races. There is not a single driver behind her that's driving equipment anywhere near as good as hers; the next four spots are Allgaier, David Gilliland, Michael Annett, and David Ragan. It's hardly a who's who of NASCAR's best teams and it's an indictment of her second year performance.

Yet there are a (very) few reasons to hope that she may well have turned the corner. She has three top ten finishes so far this year, compared to a single one in 2013. Moreover, she scored a career-best sixth place finish at Atlanta and has finished in the top half of the field in all but one of the last five events. It's hardly running up front and winning races but if Danica is to ever get there- or even stay at SHR- it's a necessary first step.

Need more NASCAR news and opinion?

Another Left Turn columns on hubpages at
Contact me via email at
Follow me on Twitter at

Now it's your turn!

Which of the five stories interests you most?

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)