The Race to the Chase is heating up.
After an emotional win by Ryan Newman in the Brickyard 400, there are now only 6 races remaining until the field is set for the playoffs. Here’s a quick look at how things are shaping up.
IN CONTROL: Jimmie Johnson
Johnson has led the points for basically the entire season, add to that his 4 wins and he’s looking like the favorite going into the Chase.
FALLING HARD: Greg Biffle
The Biff started out the season in the top 3-5 in points, but has struggled immensely lately, usually no where near the front. Bad news is he has dropped to 8th in points, just 7 points ahead of 11th. The good news is he has a win that could help save him if he continues to fall.
BUBBLE WATCH, IN: Jeff Gordon
Gordon continues to steadily gain points, his 7th place at Indy moves him inside the top 10 for the first time this season, however it is only by 1 point. Still needs a win for added security, its only 25 points back to 16th. Gordon has 5 DNFs but has finished outside the top 13 just twice in the races he has finished.
BUBBLE WATCH, OUT: Brad Keselowski
Currently in 13th, Keselowski also has no wins to give him some added confidence. He’s only one point out of 12th, and 5 out of 11th, but both those drivers had made it to victory lane, so passing them does nothing. Just 6 points behind Gordon for 10th
COMPLICATING THINGS: Ryan Newman
Newman’s win at Indy gives him the win he needed to be in contention for the wild card. He’s in a similar scenario as last season. Currently 16th, Newman needs to outdo Truex or his owner Stewart, who are 20 and 24 points ahead of him respectively.
KEY PLAYER: Kasey Kahne
Kahne has had a strong season, but has also had some tough luck. This has put him in the fight for tenth and the wild card. His Bristol win helps, but if he falls outside the top 10 – currently 9th, 6 points to the good – the Wild Card hunt gets crowded, especially if Biffle joins him.This could open up top 10 spots for drivers without a win, while also making being in the top 10 that much more important.
UNDERDOGS: Kurt Busch & Jamie McMurray
There’s two drivers here because neither of them were supposed to be in this position. Busch is 14th, just 13 points outside the top 10, Jaime Mac is only 9 points behind him. Both drivers are without a win so need strong finishes to pull off the upset.
In the two years of the Wild Card format, no one has earned a Wild Card from further back than 12th. With all the one win teams around the bubble I expect that to continue