A break in NASCAR racing this weekend provides an opportunity to review the seasons’ race winners and predict their realistic chance of making it through the Chase for the Sprint Cup. The five drivers that have visited victory lane thus far this year should not be a surprise to anyone and the chances of these drivers contending for a championship and making the final rounds of the Chase is very attainable. It is not by accident or mistake that these are the first five winners of the new season and it could very well be four of these racing in Homestead for a championship.
Winning the Daytona 500 and basically picking up where he left off from last year is Joey Logano, who not only all but stamped a ticket to the Chase with a win, but also has six top-10s in six races. Logano could have been a car jack slip away from a championship last year and from the strong performances to begin the season that belief is still very active. During the off-season, there is no doubt Team Penske and his focus was not on getting back in to the Chase, but for winning it all. Where some teams would be on cruise control for the season after winning the first race of the year, Logano and his team will be working towards perfection in preparation for the Chase tracks.
It should be no surprise from the die-hard or casual fan that Jimmie Johnson is one of first five winners of 2015. Already having six championships, the No. 48 team knows what it takes to get in the Chase and to take home the Cup. A disappointing end to last year for Johnson under the new Chase format may breed enough of a competitive edge to finding a way to advance through to the championship round in 2015.
Obviously with winning the championship last year, expectations are high for Kevin Harvick going into the new season. After six races, Harvick has two wins with an outstanding average finish of 2.7. The No. 4 team has the secret mixture to success and is not handing out the recipe. Come Chase time, Harvick’s name will be showing up in the late rounds on a lot of brackets.
After a surprising slow start to the season, Brad Keselowski came back to form with an aggressive win at Auto Club Speedway in the fifth race on the schedule. With just missing the final round of the Chase last year, the Blue Deuce has one goal going forward and relaxing after one win for the year is not on the agenda. His type of driving style may be frowned upon at times, but when the cuts during the Chase are being made, expect Keselowski’s name to still be there.
Not having similar success as the rest of first five winners, Denny Hamlin’s consistency in the last part of the Chase last year will make him a threat to all competitors. Already matching his one win total from last year, one victory may be all that is needed to get the confetti shower at Homestead. The No. 11 team will not be looking to take their foot off the gas, but the preparations have already started for the Chase.