On a scale of one to four Tonys, what are the chances each of the Chase bubble drivers can go on a Stewart-like run if they can make it?
With seven races left in the regular season, there are six drivers who can realistically be viewed as contenders to claim one of the two wild card spots for NASCAR's Chase.
But which of those bubble drivers would be considered legitimate threats to drive away with the Sprint Cup Series trophy if they actually made it?
Lest we forget, it was about a year ago that none other than Tony Stewart said his team didn't deserve to make the Chase. And of course, even after he did qualify, Stewart was still adamant he had little chance to be a factor.
Then he won the whole thing.
So let's analyze the six Chase bubble drivers using a "Tony Rating" as our barometer: The more Tonys appear below their name (on a scale of one to four), the better their hopes of a Stewart-like run if they should make the Chase.
Carl Edwards (11th in points, no wins)
With how strong Edwards' teammates have been this season, it's obvious the Roush Fenway Racing cars have the speed; all the 99 team has to do is find it. And much like Stewart, Edwards is very capable of flipping a switch, turning it on come playoff time and rolling off some W's. On the other hand, he has finished in the top five just twice this season, and there's that whole Bob Osborne being reassigned business.
Kasey Kahne (12th in points, two wins)
With 10 top-10 finishes in his last 13 starts, the consistency is obviously there for Kahne to challenge for his first series crown. Not to mention he's more than capable of winning races in bunches – like Stewart did last year.
Kyle Busch (13th in points, one win)
In theory, an already aggressive driver going all-out for victories sounds good. However, that approach brings an abundance of likely pratfalls, including the potential of an engine going sour – an issue the Toyota teams have had throughout the year. And maybe the biggest question mark is Busch's past inability to handle pressure-packed situations.
Ryan Newman (14th in points, one win)
It is hard to envision a scenario where Newman is much of a factor in the Chase. Then again, the same could be said 12 months ago about the guy who signs his paycheck. Still, Newman has led only 12 laps all year, which doesn't exactly signal a driver on the verge of winning again anytime soon.
Joey Logano (16th in points, one win)
If he can make the Chase, that would be an accomplishment unto itself. Anything more is expecting too much.
Jeff Gordon (17th in points, no wins)
If Gordon can get in – a BIG if – he absolutely could play a pivotal role in the championship, as he has the speed and know-how to win at any track in the Chase. The four-time champ is fourth in laps led this year and the 24 car has consistently been one of the fastest on the track. Whether that equates to title No. 5 is yet to be determined.