NASCAR points observations through 10 races

Leave a comment

Talladega is in the books for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and, as my colleague Jerry Bonkowski noted immediately after the race, there wasn’t a ton of movement in the standings.

Doesn’t mean there aren’t trends, though. Here’s where things sit with 10 of 26 regular season races in the books:

AND HAMLIN MAKES EIGHT

Basically, half the 16-driver Chase field is already set with Denny Hamlin joining the seven other winners thus far this season. And how relieving is this for Hamlin? After his nightmare 2013, he can now afford to experiment in the remaining regular season rounds while Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth, who’s been excellent but unlucky thus far in 2014, is still yet to get on the scoreboard.

BIFFLE, BOWYER SURGING

Greg Biffle and Clint Bowyer aren’t in the winners’ column yet, but trending upward after a solid last few weeks.

For “The Biff,” three top-six finishes in the last four races, including second on Sunday in Talladega, have vaulted him from 18th in the standings up to eighth.

Meanwhile for Bowyer, who had a banner Monday in announcing both a new baby and a new contract extension, he’s climbed five positions in the last five races to 18th with four top-12 results. Combined with Michael Waltrip Racing teammate Brian Vickers, who’s 10th in points, this team might be starting to hit its stride.

SNEAKY GOOD LAST FEW WEEKS FOR ‘DINGER

The single-car JTG Daugherty team has delivered back-to-back top-six results courtesy of AJ Allmendinger, and the driver of the No. 47 Chevrolet is up to a season-best 15th in points. If you’re looking for a possible surprise race winner over the next several weeks, this could be the guy, as Allmendinger’s coming back to form after the post-Penske fallout of 2012 and his reclamation project bouncing between teams, cars and series last year.

THE STEWART-HAAS QUARTET IS ALMOST ALL OUTSIDE THE TOP 20

As we’ve written before, it’s a good thing both Kevin Harvick (19th in points) and Kurt Busch (27th) already have wins in the bag because the rest of the Stewart-Haas Racing team’s results this year have not justified how well they’ve run.

Stewart got caught up in the Lap 136 crash at Talladega and registered a 43rd and last place finish; that dropped him from 15th to 21st in points. And at a restrictor plate track, where you’d expect her to do well, Danica Patrick was involved in a wreck as well, and ended 22nd. She sits 29th in the standings.

POINTS: Through 10 of 26 races

Hamilton: Abu Dhabi ‘the last race with good-looking cars’ in F1

Getty Images
1 Comment

Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.

Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.

Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.

“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.

“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”

Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.

“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.

“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”