By Jared Turner
1. JoLo Is Crushing It
Already on a roll before arriving at Watkins Glen for Sunday’s race, Joey Logano is now arguably the sport’s hottest driver. With his win at The Glen, the Team Penske wheelman has finished in the top five in seven of the past nine races. In one of the two races where he didn’t finish in the top five, he led before running out of gas with three laps to go. Making Logano’s victory at The Glen all the more sweet was that it enabled him to complete the weekend sweep after dominating Saturday’s XFINITY Series race at the 2.45-mile road course. Sunday’s win marked Logano’s milestone first Sprint Cup triumph on a non-oval.
2. The Chase Field Is Taking Shape
With only four races remaining in the regular season, 10 drivers are locked in the Chase by virtue of having won one or more races in 2015. An 11th driver, Kyle Busch, will make the Chase provided he stays in the top 30 in points. Assuming no other drivers break into Victory Lane for the first time this season in the next four races, the last five spots in the 16-driver Chase field will belong to the highest-ranking drivers in points who don’t have a win. As it stands, those five drivers are Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard, Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman and Clint Bowyer – the last of whom is a healthy 50 points ahead of the first driver on the outside of the Chase looking in.
3. Kyle Busch Is Chase-Bound
OK, so it’s still technically possible that something could go terribly awry for Kyle Busch in the next four races, keeping the Joe Gibbs Racing driver out of the Chase for the Sprint Cup despite his remarkable comeback from early-season injuries. In all reality, though, it would take a mini-miracle for Busch to miss the Chase at this point. A winner of four of the past seven races, Busch could easily be sitting on six victories in seven races, with a little more luck. Either way, the chances of Busch falling out of the top 30 now that he’s finally in it are about as good as the chances of a man taking permanent residence on the moon.
4. Denny Hamlin Has A Hood Problem
Remember a couple weeks ago when the hood on Denny Hamlin’s No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota flew up during practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway? Well, it happened again – this time during Sunday’s race at Watkins Glen. But unlike at Indy where the issue was a result of hood pins not being fastened tightly enough before Hamlin got on track, the problem at The Glen was a result of contact with another car that broke the hood pins and braces and caused the hood to fly up into the windshield. Nevertheless, it seems like a strange coincidence that this would happen to the same driver and team in a span of just three events.
5. Gremlins Are Chasing Jeff Gordon
Just when it seemed the tide might finally be turning for Jeff Gordon in a season marred by disappointment, think again. A week after finishing third at Pocono in a race where he didn’t have a top-five car, Gordon saw his luck turn sour again Sunday at Watkins Glen. After starting fifth, the Hendrick Motorsports driver almost immediately struggled with the handling on his car. A brake-line issue ultimately cost Gordon four laps and resulted in a 41st-place finish at a track where he arrived as a four-time winner. Although he is still in relatively good position to make the Chase, Gordon has to wonder if the gremlins are going to follow him all the way to the last race of