By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service

Distributed by The Sports Xchange

Are AJ Allmendinger and JTG/Daugherty Racing ready for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup?

Ready or not, they are qualified for NASCAR's 10-race playoff after Sunday's victory at Watkins Glen International, and the Chase is just four races away.

On Friday, before the win was reality, Allmendinger was conservative in his assessment of the team's chances to contend for a championship and acknowledged that he would face an uphill battle in the Chase against teams with broader resources.

Now that the Chase is a reality, however, team owners Brad Daugherty and Tad and Jodi Geschickter are prepared to make a fight of it.

"When we go back to the mile and a halfs (intermediate speedways) and start competing, it's going to be a little bit more difficult because of the simulation software for all these race teams, but with the ride heights and AJ's ability, if we can qualify the car well, we're going to race OK," Daugherty said.

"I'm confident in (crew chief) Brian (Burns). I'm confident in my pit crew. I think that we have more in us. We go to racetracks like Atlanta, we go to places like Martinsville, Bristol -- he (Allmendinger) is good at those race tracks. I think we've got a chance. If the dominos fall correctly, we've got a chance. So we've got to put all of our eggs in one basket. We don't want to just be there as a backmarker. We want to make some noise."


12: The number of different winners in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this season. AJ Allmendinger's victory at Watkins Glen eliminated one Chase position available on points, leaving a maximum of four up for grabs, if the next four races produce repeat winners. Those drivers who haven't won yet have reason to be nervous.

10: The number of top-10 finishes recorded this year by rookie Kyle Larson, who ran fourth in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen. Larson is 10th in the series standings and right in the middle of the fight for a Chase spot.

10: The number of top-five finishes this season for Dale Earnhardt Jr., the only driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series who has reached double figures in that statistical category. Though Earnhardt finished 11th on Sunday, he took over the series lead from teammate Jeff Gordon, after Gordon had electrical problems with his pole-winning No. 24 Chevrolet.

33: Jimmie Johnson's average finish in the last five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. Johnson's rash of trouble continued Sunday at Watkins Glen, where the six-time champion got the worst of a three-wide predicament with Kyle Larson and Matt Kenseth, as the cars negotiated Turn 1. Johnson spun and finished 28th.

2: The number of drivers who have won back-to-back races in the last 16 years at Michigan International Speedway. Ryan Newman accomplished the feat in 2003-2004, and Greg Biffle did it twice, in 2004-2005 and 2012-2013. Neither driver has won yet this year.


There are a number of marquee drivers still looking for a first win of 2014: Greg Biffle, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, among others. This weekend, much of the focus could land on Biffle. Biffle owns four Michigan wins, the most among active drivers. His team, Roush Fenway Racing, has 13 Michigan victories. ... It took six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson more than a decade to capture his first Michigan win. Now, we're talking about a sweep. If Johnson wins again this Sunday at Michigan, it would be his 13th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series sweep. The all-time record for career sweeps: 23, by Richard Petty. ... Each year NASCAR's Drive for Diversity initiative and its competition arm, Rev Racing, seek to obtain the highest quality of applicants representing the next crop of drivers seeking a spot in the program's 2015 class. This selection process begins with the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine held in October at Langley speedway. This year's application process is currently open until August 15, 2014. For more information on eligibility and application process please visit

Tune-In: NASCAR On Television, August 11-17

Monday, August 11

5 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1

5 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network

7 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub (re-air), FOX Sports 2

Tuesday, August 12

5 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1

5 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network

7 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub (re-air), FOX Sports 2