Gibbs Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing and Richard Childress Racing — is so steep, Kahne and the GEM gang have been year.
Those big four owners placed three cars each in the Chase and have combined for 22 of 26 wins this season. Kahne has two and Penske Racing drivers Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman grabbed the other two.
But none made the Chase, and — coincidence? — all drive Dodges.
The automaker is reeling, lags far behind Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota on the race track and in showroom sales, and on Saturday revealed it was pulling out of NASCAR's Truck Series.
So as the race for the title begins Sunday in New Hampshire, it will be interesting to see what happens to Dodge as its teams are left out of the action.
It's also going to be interesting to see how Stewart and his Joe Gibbs Racing team handle The two-time champion is leaving at the end of the year to run his own race team, and the tension from his decision has been building all season.
Zipadelli has consistently presented a united front, but radio communications have revealed cracks that could crumble the team before Stewart moves on. streak dating back to last season, Stewart has had victory in sight several times this year only to lose in heartbreaking fashion. Sunday wasn't one of those crushing defeats: He waged a stirring late-race battle with Jimmie Johnson, but ultimately didn't have a car strong enough to win.
As he pulled off the track following the second-place performance for letting another victory slip away. In audio replayed several times by ESPN, Zipadelli sharply reminded him they win and lose as a group.
After, Stewart was surly and didn't want to dissect yet another on-track defeat.
A championship battle with Stewart involved is the best
tional driver usually leaves everything out on the track he and Zippy give up on each other before this season is over, there's very little chance Stewart will be a factor in this Chase.
Meanwhile, Stewart is being pulled in several directions as he shapes Stewart-Haas Racing for his impending takeover. He's hired a driver in Newman, a crew chief in Darian Grubb, secured several sponsors and is now seeking a general manager.
His sights are apparently on Frye, who kept a midlevel team swallowed last season by Dale Earnhardt Inc. That freed Frye to take over Red Bull in January and clean up what was a heavily funded but poorly managed team.
The Sprint Cup title will be but there's plenty of other industry issues to keep an eye on.