When NASCAR announced the new Chase system for this season there were a lot of skeptics but also a lot of people that thought the system, called the Chase Grid, has a lot of potential to create a ton of drama. That drama very clearly will not only be during the knock out rounds during the final 10 races of the season but also will be prevalent from this weekend's 13th race of the season at Dover International Speedway until the last laps of the 26th race at Richmond when the 16-driver grid is set.
The majority opinion was that there would not be 16 or more winners in the first 26 races meaning that those highest in points without a win would gain access to the Chase Grid. However, after 12 races there is already 10 different winners. Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick are the only two drivers officially locked into the Chase because they have found victory lane twice so far.
The other eight drivers feeling pretty good about their chances by finding victory lane are Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch. However, if more than 16 drivers win then even these eight drivers are not locked in and Kurt Busch is in the worst shape in that scenario since he sits 28th in the driver points and is 125 points behind the current next driver with a win.
What are the chances that there are more than six new different winners in the next 14 races? Probably still not that great but when you look at the names that still have not won it seems like it could actually be a possibility.
Matt Kenseth, who won seven times last season, has not won yet. Other winners last season not to find victory lane yet this year are Brian Vickers, Ryan Newman, Greg Biffle, Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart, Jamie McMurray (who did win the non-points All-Star Race which does not count toward the Grid), Martin Truex Jr, and David Ragan. Not even mentioned there were Clint Bowyer, Marcos Ambrose, and Paul Menard who have won in the past. Rookie Kyle Larson has been close to winning this year and has to be on the list of drivers that could along with drivers like Aric Almirola, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, and rookie Austin Dillon.
That is 16 drivers and if seven of those win in the next 14 races then there will be more than 16 winners. Throw in that there is still the July 4th weekend restrictor-plate race at Daytona and there could even be a surprise winner of a driver not even mentioned above like David Ragan last year.
What all this really means is that the drama of who will make up the Chase Grid field for the inaugural season will go down to the last laps at Richmond and makes each and every race on the schedule this summer very important.Tags: Brian Vickers, Chase Grid, Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle, Kasey Kahne, Kyle Larson, Marcos Ambrose, Martin Truex Jr., matt kenseth, Motorsports, NASCAR, Paul Menard, ricky stenhouse jr, Ryan Newman, Tony Stewart