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Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup: Four Races Until the Chase

August 16th, 2013 at 11:00 AM
By Mark Eddinger
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Michigan International Speedway this weekend with only four races until the 12-driver Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field is set. The top ten drivers in points following race 26 and the two drivers with the most wins between 11th and 20th in the points will make the Chase.
 
'Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch, 2013 STP Gas Booster 500' photo (c) 2013, chayes_2014 - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
 
Locked
 
Jimmie Johnson – The five-time champion has once again made the Chase. He clinched at least a wild card spot with his eighth place finish at Watkins Glen on Sunday. Johnson holds a 75 point lead in the standings over second and is 185 points ahead of 11th. His four wins are tied with Matt Kenseth for the most in the series.
 
All But Locked
 
Matt Kenseth – With his four wins Kenseth is going to get at least a wild card but that is not locked yet. He is currently seventh in points and 36 points ahead of 11th. There are some scenarios where Kenseth could clinch a spot after Michigan.
 
Kyle Busch – By picking up his third win of the season on Sunday at Watkins Glen Busch now looks like there is no way he won't at least have a wild card spot. So he moves up to "All But Locked" status. He is up to fifth in points and is 70 points ahead of 11th.

Looking Solid
 
Clint Bowyer – He enters second in the points and even though he is winless he is 110 points clear of 11th. Certain scenarios following Michigan would allow Bowyer to clinch a spot.
 
Carl Edwards – He is third in points and has a win. Right now he is 105 points ahead of 11th. Certain scenarios after Michigan would also allow Edwards to clinch.
 
Kevin Harvick – Currently fourth in points and has two wins. Harvick is 84 points ahead of 11th and real solid with his two wins.
 
In the Fight
 
Dale Earnhardt Jr – Downgraded from "Looking Solid" because he is still winless in 2013 and after his crash at Watkins Glen he is now 47 points ahead of 11th in sixth place. Another bad finish and he could be flirting with falling out of the top 10.
 
Kasey Kahne – Also downgraded from "Looking Solid" after being caught up in the same crash as Earnhardt Jr. Kahne is currently 12th in points but holds wild card number one because of his two wins. Those two wins should have him safe but he is definitely still in the flight. Kahne is three points out of getting back into the top 10 which would help other bubble drivers.
 
Brad Keselowski – The 2012 champion may not even make the Chase but a solid run at Watkins Glen jumped him up four positions to eighth in the points and has him in right now. Being without a win has Keselowski in danger still as he is only 11 points ahead of 11th in the standings.
 
Greg Biffle – He is ninth in points and does have one win coming at Michigan in June. If he can sweep Michigan on Sunday Biffle will be in great shape. Biffle is only four points ahead of 11th place so he is, oh so close to falling into position where he would need to use his win for a wild card spot.
 
Martin Truex Jr – A great run at Watkins Glen moved Truex up four spots to tenth and in the Chase right now. He is two points ahead of 11th and his win at Sonoma is very important. A second win would put him in great shape.
 
Kurt Busch – He is trying to land Furniture Row Racing in the Chase for the first time and right now is 11th in points and only two behind tenth. He does not have a win right now but is in the hunt for a Chase berth as much as anyone on this list.
 
Jeff Gordon – His big mistake at Watkins Glen dropped him four positions and out of a Chase spot currently. He is 13th in points and is 15 points behind tenth. Without a win Gordon is in the danger zone big time. He needs to win but consistency could still get him in the top ten.
 
Ryan Newman – With Tony Stewart out of the picture Stewart-Haas Racing's only chance at having a driver in the Chase lies with Newman. He is 20 points out of tenth but has his win from Indianapolis that currently has him in the wild card number two position.
 
'Ryan Newman, #39' photo (c) 2012, Terri  Hickox - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/
 
Jamie McMurray – He is 25 points out of tenth and 15th in points. McMurray really needs a win to make his Chase chances look brighter but a string of great runs could get him to tenth also.
 
Joey Logano – He is in the same spot as McMurray as he is 27 points out of tenth and needing a win to make his chances look better. Tenth is not out of the question though.
 
Tony Stewart - The injured Tony Stewart needs a healing miracle. He is currently 17th in points but with a win is only 11 points put of the second wild card right now. He will miss this race and is expected to miss more so Stewart baring somehow getting back in the car at Bristol looks like he will not make the Chase.
 
There But Without a Chance
 
Aric Almirola, Paul Menard, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Jeff Burton, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Marcos Ambrose. Three or four, if Stewart drops from the top 20, of these six drivers drivers will finish in the top 20 but it is highly unlikely they will be high enough even if they win one of the next four races to earn a wild card. Almirola is the closest at 44 points behind Ryan Newman the driver with the second wild card right now.

 

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Tags: Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., matt kenseth, Motorsports, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Ryan Newman

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