Some of NASCAR’s biggest names are trying to keep their championship hopes alive and the Chase for the Sprint Cup is still about a month away.
Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon would all be on the outside looking in if the Chase started now. They have four races to change that, starting this weekend at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich.
“We don’t feel there is a better race track on the circuit to come to when we need a win than Michigan,” Edwards said. “We have had a lot of success here.”
Edwards has won twice at this track, and another victory Sunday would put him in great shape in what Gordon called the “chase for the Chase.” The top 10 drivers advance, along with the two with the most wins who are between 11th and 20th in the points standings.
Edwards is 12th in points but has no victories this year. Busch and Gordon have a victory apiece but are 14th and 15th, just behind Ryan Newman for the second wild card spot.
Kasey Kahne, who is in 11th place, has two wins and is in line for one wild card spot at this point. Newman is 13th with one victory.
Gordon hasn’t missed the Chase since 2005, and Edwards hasn’t been left out since 2006. Busch has made it the last two years.
Martin on Michigan pole
Mark Martin won the pole for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway.
Martin posted the top qualifying speed Friday of 199.706 mph on the track’s still-new surface. Carl Edwards was second, followed by points leader Jimmie Johnson.
National Guard extends deal with Earnhardt
The Army National Guard is staying on as a sponsor of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 NASCAR Sprint Cup team.
Hendrick Motorsports said it has extended its relationship with the National Guard through the 2013 season.
The contract was scheduled to expire at the end of 2012.
Last month, Congress rejected a bid by Reps. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., and Betty McCollum, D-Minn., to trim $72.3 million for sports sponsorships from a $608 billion defense bill for fiscal 2013. The measure had targeted the money the National Guard spends to sponsor Earnhardt, as well as IndyCar Series driver JR Hildebrand.
Tagliani leads Nationwide field
Foiled a year ago by countryman Jacques Villeneuve, Montreal native Alex Tagliani finally has a NASCAR pole.
Tagliani, a regular in IndyCar, turned a speed of 96.688 mph around the 15-turn, 2.7-mile layout in his hometown to edge Sam Hornish Jr. for the top spot in today’s Nationwide Series race in Montreal.
Villeneuve will start third this time. Danica Patrick qualified fourth.