Race to Chase update: Kahne enhances his chances

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Sunday’s GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono was the 21st of 26 regular season races before NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup. Kasey Kahne’s second win of 2013 moved him into eighth in points. While it didn’t solidify his status, the second win could prove crucial from a Wild Card standpoint if the No. 5 Farmers’ Insurance Chevrolet drops outside of the top 10. Ryan Newman is now within nine points of Martin Truex Jr. for the second Wild Card position; Kurt Busch’s top five also helped him.

Here’s where things sit as of now:

1. Jimmie Johnson, 772 points, 4 wins
2. Clint Bowyer, 695, 0
3. Carl Edwards, 688, 1
4. Kevin Harvick, 675, 2
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr., 656, 0
6. Kyle Busch, 646, 2
7. Matt Kenseth, 638, 4
8. Kasey Kahne, 612, 2
9. Jeff Gordon, 602, 0
10. Greg Biffle, 599, 1
11. Tony Stewart, -5 behind Biffle, 1 win
12. Brad Keselowski, -7, 0
13. Kurt Busch, -11, 0
14. Martin Truex Jr., -15, 1
15. Ryan Newman, -24, 1
16. Jamie McMurray, -33, 0
17. Joey Logano, -38, 0
18. Aric Almirola, -45, 0
19. Paul Menard, -67, 0
20. Jeff Burton, -92, 0

Despite a tire issue, Johnson increased his lead over Bowyer to 77 points. A couple changes from last week’s Race to Chase update in terms of “lock status” are below.

VIRTUAL LOCKS: Johnson, Bowyer, Edwards, Harvick, Kenseth
ALMOST LOCKS: Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch, Kahne
GOOD FOR NOW: Gordon, Biffle, Stewart, Truex

IN RANGE: Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Newman
OUT OF RANGE: McMurray
VIRTUALLY ELIMINATED: Logano, Almirola, Menard, Burton

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.