There are still plenty of laps left before the cut is made to determine which 12 drivers will make the Chase for the Championship in 2013. But the reality is that Gordon and, in particular, Stewart have some making up to do while overcoming erratic results.
Gordon has a top-5 and a top-10 finish, but he also finished 34th at Bristol and crawled to a season-low 38th-place finish at Texas. He was sidelined on Lap 306 with a front-suspension issue.
Stewart has one top-10 finish but has averaged a 21st-place finish in his last five races. He finished 21st at Texas.
"We just couldn't get the car right," Stewart said. "It's pretty obvious we've got some work to do."
Onto Kansas this week, where Gordon feels a good vibe. Gordon has two victories (2001 and 2002) in 14 starts and has eight top-5s. But he has never won a pole there.
"I think we have made gains, so I'm confident we can make improvements when we get there," Gordon said. "But we are really going to have to be on our game."
The horrific events at the Boston Marathon will impact all sporting events in the immediate future, including this week's race at Kansas. Fans are likely to experience longer waits for security checks, all part of an increased security presence.
"We've had several meetings with our local contact with the Kansas police department, which interphases with Homeland Security and the FBI," track president Pat Warren told reporters on Tuesday. "We don't discuss publicly the things we do because we don't want somebody who might do something bad to know what our plans, policies and procedures are.
"What I would say is that we treat every event seriously, and we treat the safety and security of our fans seriously. Probably it's a good idea for people to plan on a little more time getting through the gates, having their backpacks checked, their coolers checked, those kind of things."
Congrats to Kyle Larson, who became the first graduate of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program to win on one of the upper-tier levels. Larson, 20, captured Sunday's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway.
"Well, [the program] helped with getting me exposure in NASCAR in a series like the K&N East Series, and also being able to race on tracks that I'll be running on this year," Larson said. "We got to go to Iowa, New Hampshire, Richmond, Dover and tracks like that. It helps us gain experience.
"It was my first year racing stock cars too, so it helped all around with driving and introducing me to all the media that I'll hopefully be having to do in my future. So it was good for me."