Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Who Makes the Chase for the Sprint Cup?

And then there was one.

The battle for the Chase comes down to one race as the NASCAR Sprint Cup series moves to Richmond.  Things became a little clearer after an entertaining race Sunday night in Atlanta.  For all intents and purposes it’s a two-fold race; a race for the two wildcard spots and a race for that 9th and 10th spot are all too close to call.  Even CNN would be hard pressed to offer a projection at this point.  Last Word on Sports is going to give it a try.

Who’s in:

  1. Jimmie Johnson
  2. Clint Bowyer
  3. Kevin Harvick
  4. Carl Edwards
  5. Kyle Busch
  6. Matt Kenseth
  7. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

With his 2 victories you have to consider Kasey Kahne in as a wildcard.  We’ll put him down as finishing in 11th place in the first wildcard spot.  That leaves the following drivers in the top 25 with one victory fighting for the last wildcard spot:

  1. Joey Logano
  2. Greg Biffle
  3. Martin Truex Jr.
  4. Ryan Newman

Those drivers have double the chance to get to the Chase.  A solid finish at Richmond could see that group end up in 8th 9th or 10th position as well.  So let’s settle the 8th through 10th spots first.

  1.  Joey Logano (16 pts. ahead of 11th)
  2. Greg Biffle (14 pts)
  3. Kurt Busch (6 pts)
  4. Jeff Gordon (-6 Pts behind 10th)
  5. Martin Truex Jr. (-15 pts)
  6. Ryan Newman (-20 pts)
  7. Brad Keselowski (-28 pts)

Joey Logano has been on fire lately and I see no reason to think he won’t run strong at Richmond.  Logano will finish in the 8th spot.

Unlike Logano, Biffle has not run well lately.  Even so, a 14 point lead is an awful lot to spot such a smart veteran racer like Biffle.  He’ll make his supporters nervous but he’ll sneak in and finish in the 10th Chase position.

It will seem strange to be without the Cup’s defending champion in the Chase but that is exactly what will happen after the Richmond race.  Brad Keselowski has raced with some awful luck this season.  As an example of Keselowski’s poor luck, this week in Atlanta he was running up front when he lost his engine.  That race cost him an opportunity to defend his title.

Ryan Newman has too many people in front of him in both the wild card and the final 10th spot so I’m calling him out.  Ryan has been inconsistent this season but has shown perseverance in maintaining his team in the hunt even with the uncertainty that surrounded his dismissal from Stewart-Haas Racing.   This is a good example of a solid team probably running out of races.

That leaves Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon and Martin Truex Jr. fighting for the last spot in the Chase.  Kurt Busch has been amazing to watch this season.  One wonders where Kurt Busch would be if he were driving for a Hendrick or a Roush?  If NASCAR had a Most Valuable Driver Award Busch would be my choice, hands down.  He finishes strong in Richmond and grabs the 9th position.

Last season Gordon needed a win to sneak into the Chase at the regular season’s final race at Richmond.  He’ll need a win this season as well to beat out Truex for the final wild card spot.   With the resources that Hendrick Racing brings and Gordon’s history of success at short tracks, Gordon could very well have history repeat itself.  It says here lightning won’t strike twice.  Truex grabs the 12th position.

So here are the 12 teams we will see vying for the Championship come Monday morning.

  1. Jimmie Johnson
  2. Clint Bowyer
  3. Kevin Harvick
  4. Carl Edwards
  5. Kyle Busch
  6. Matt Kenseth
  7. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  8. Joey Logano
  9. Kurt Busch
  10. Greg Biffle
  11. Kasey Kahne
  12. Martin Truex Jr.

My picks for Atlanta:

  1. Kevin Harvick
  2. Kurt Busch
  3. Kyle Busch


Thanks for Reading, you can leave your comments below.  Feel free to give me a follow on Twitter – @JimLaPlante, as well as the site – @LastWordOnSport.

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