Before Jimmie Johnson did it this year, Bobby
Allison was the last driver to sweep Daytona’s 500
and 400 in the same season, back in 1982.
Allison’s run with DiGard’s Buick started when his
rear bumper “accidentally” fell off early in the 500.
Keselowski (MAIN) faces an uphill climb
to repeat as Sprint Cup champ but, like
Gordon (INSET), feels the speed is there.
CHASE MAKES HASTE
Pressure ratchets up on big names outside the top 10
Summer’s arrival brings an added
element of time pressure for drivers
harboring NASCAR Sprint Cup title hopes
– especially those outside the magic
top- 10 positions in the standings who
earn an automatic entry in the Chase,
NASCAR’s playoff system for its final
10 races. And this time around, that list
included the reigning series champ.
Brad Keselowski and his Penske Racing
team are in a different situation this year
anyway, having switched to Fords from
last season’s Dodges, but a series of
misfortunes and penalties led Keselowski
to fall to 13th in the championship with
just nine races left before the Chase field
is set. He is ineligible for a wild card Chase
spot at present due to his lack of any
2013 wins (see sidebar).
“We are just going to go do our thing,”
insisted Keselowski. “We are just on a
streak of bad luck. It will turn around and,
when it does, we will be in Victory Lane
again and be all right.”
Four-time champ Jeff Gordon is in a
similar predicament. While his Hendrick
Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson
went on a tear, winless Gordon reckoned
he was fortunate to be 12th in points.
Matthew T. Thacker/LAT
hate the Chase, but
two “wild cards”
add some intrigue:
• Drivers with the
most race wins
11th and 20th in
points win wild cards.
• The 10 automatic
three bonus points
for each regular
season win; the two
wild cards don’t.
• Base point totals
for the “Chase 12”
are reset to 2,000
– more than 1,000
points higher than
the first non-Chase
JOHNSON LOOKING LIKE THE ROCK
Russell La Bounty/LAT
NASCAR will be especially relieved to
have its Chase format in place this year –
otherwise Jimmie Johnson would be well
on the way to making the season a rout.
After a commanding performance at
Daytona in July (LEFT), the five-time
Sprint Cup champion held a massive
59-point lead in the standings. Although
that advantage will evaporate when the
field is reset for the Chase, Johnson has
been consistently fast at all types of tracks
so far this year and his form has looked
ominous for his rivals. Still, he feels all that
will be irrelevant when the Chase begins.