With just eight races remaining before the Sprint Cup chase for the championship begins in Chicago, there is a log jam of drivers surrounding the 10th position in the points standings.
The top 10 drivers in the point standings are guaranteed a place in the chase, and the two wild card positions are determined by race victories or the next two in the point standings.
Tony Stewart’s second-place finish at Daytona vaulted him into the 10th spot, but he maintains a slim six-point advantage over Martin Truex Jr. and Kasey Kahne. All three of these drivers have one victory on the year.
Stewart is two markers behind Kurt Busch.
Defending champion Brad Keselowski is currently 13th in the point standings, 11 points behind Stewart.
Keselowski has had mostly an up-and-down season and is still looking for that first win of the year.
Another driver on the outside looking in is Jeff Gordon, who is 12 points out of the 10th spot and also looking for his first win.
At this point in the season, four drivers are probably locked into the chase. Points leader Jimmie Johnson, with four victories plus a victory in the All-Star race, has a 49-point margin over Clint Bowyer.
Bowyer, Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick are the other drivers looking at another shot at the title.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch also are probably in a good position to make the chase.
Realistically, there are probably no other drivers with a shot at the chase. Joey Logano and Ryan Newman would be possibilities but don’t appear to be hitting on all cylinders heading into the final races leading up to the chase.
After missing four races and crashing at Kentucky and Daytona, Denny Hamilin will not be a chase driver, unless he somehow manages to win two of the last eight races.
In other racing news:
There was one thing obvious at the IZOD IndyCar race at Pocono and that was plenty of speed. Marco Andretti qualified at 49 mph faster than the NASCAR Sprint Cup track record.
Andretti’s speed was over 220 mph in qualifying, and during the race the drivers were turning laps at 216 mph.
Tony Kanaan, going for the second leg of the Fuzzy’s Triple Crown, made an unexpected mistake while passing Scott Dixon for the lead and damaged the wing of his car, requiring a pit stop.
With the additional stop, Kanaan saw his opportunity to win $1 million slip away. If either Kanaan or Dixon win the season-ending race at Auto Club Speedway, they will pocket a $250,000 bonus.
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