OK, OK, another long shot. Patrick appears to be running out of time in her quality No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing ride, as sponsorship isn’t flocking to her like it used to.
Her 10th-place finish at Dover this season was her first in two years and she’s never had a top-five finish in 168 career starts. So it’s going to take something like a fuel-gamble strategy is a strange race where maybe weather comes into play for her to have a shot, but, hey, if Chris Buescher can win a fog-shortened race at Pocono like he did last year, who’s to say Patrick couldn’t pull off the same sort of thing if all the stars align just right?
Dillon tried an alternate strategy at Dover earlier this year and led 27 laps before crashing and fading to 14th by the finish.
The rookie driver of the No. 13 Germain Racing Chevrolet is more than willing to take such chances to run up front and possibly get to Victory Lane. So despite being in inferior equipment to most others in the Cup field each week, don’t completely count him out.
Suárez earned his first career XFINITY Series win last year at Michigan and used it as a springboard to go on and claim the series championship.
He thought he would be driving in that series again this year, but instead was thrust into a rookie seat in the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota vacated suddenly by Carl Edwards in the offseason. It’s a quality ride, and already in his first 14 Cup starts, he’s piled up four top-10 finishes, including a career-best sixth at Dover. He’s getting better every week.
Jones is coming off a career-best third-place run at Pocono last week and has been fast in practice all weekend at Michigan. Could this be his week?
Another Cup rookie, he has the one top-five and three total top-10 finishes in his first 14 starts in the No. 77 Furniture Row Racing Toyota, and is a respectable 16th in points. Like Suárez, he appears to be getting better rapidly.
Now in his second full-time season driving the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, it’s hard to believe Elliott hasn’t won yet.
He’s finished third twice already this season, at Las Vegas and at Martinsville, and has a total of four top-five and eight top-10 finishes in 14 starts while leading 169 laps. He’s also sixth in points. It remains only a matter of time before he visits Victory Lane.