Gas 'N' Go: Which Non-Chase Driver Will Win a Race?

Jamie McMurray Denny Hamlin

Jamie McMurray (1) and Denny Hamlin (11) could be the first non-Chase driver to win a Chase race since Nov. 2011. (Photo: Getty Images)

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The pits are open again and, MotorRacingNetwork.com's Pete Pistone and Dustin Long each answer this week's featured question in "Gas 'N' Go."

What non-Chase driver will win a Chase race?

MRN Staff Answer
Pete Pistone
Pete Pistone

Quick, who is the first driver in the point standings outside the 13 Chase participants? Yep, that's right - Jamie McMurray. The Earnhardt Ganassi Racing driver has had his share of ups and downs but is decidedly on the upswing in recent weeks.

McMurray has two top-five finishes in his last four starts and came home 11th last Sunday in Dover. He returns to Kansas this weekend after finishing seventh there in April. Unlike his EGR teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, McMurray has escaped mechanical issues and plain old bad luck for the most part while staying near the front of the field.

McMurray has a history of rising up in the final portion of the season, and with places like Talladega, Charlotte and Martinsville on the horizon, there's a distinct chance the No. 1 car can roll into Victory Lane before the season ends.

 

Dustin Long
Dustin Long

Martin Truex Jr. is an inviting choice because he’s been good on 1.5-mile tracks much of the season, including finishes of fourth at Kansas and second at Texas. Chase drivers, though, have won the past 13 races on 1.5-mile speedways, dating back to 2010. I don’t think Truex is good enough to top all the Chase drivers at such a track.

So I’ll go with Denny Hamlin for the win at Martinsville. Yes, Hamlin has had a horrible season with 15 consecutive finishes outside the top 10, but he’s money at Martinsville. He has seven top-five finishes, including four wins, in his last 10 starts at the Virginia track. He’s led in each of the last eight races there.

If someone outside the title hunt is going to win a race this year, it’s going to be Hamlin at Martinsville later this month.

 

 

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