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Chase Watch: Kenseth barely hanging on

Jay Hart
Yahoo Sports

David Reutimann has inserted himself into the Chase discussion, though if past history is an indicator, he remains a long, long shot to elevate himself into the top 12.

Every Wednesday, Yahoo! Sports will break down those drivers who remain on the bubble. With seven races to go, including the Brickyard 400 on July 25, here is how the list shakes out:

(NOTE: The estimated average finish needed is based on the points total each driver needs in order to match the average number of points the 12th-place driver earned after Race No. 26 in the 2007-09 seasons.)

8. Matt Kenseth

Points vs. 12th: +160
Avg. finish at remaining tracks: 14.1
Best remaining track: Michigan International Raceway (12.7)
Worst remaining track: Richmond International Raceway (17.0)
Indianapolis average: 15.4
Est. avg. finish needed: 20th
Comment: Kenseth is still riding his solid start to the season, because if it weren't for those five top 10s to begin 2010, he'd be well out of the top 12 right now. He'll likely hang on, though just barely. Richmond can't come and go soon enough for him.

9. Tony Stewart

Points vs. 12th: +103
Avg. finish at remaining tracks: 11.0
Best remaining track: Watkins Glen International (5.3)
Worst remaining track: Bristol Motor Speedway (16.5)
Indianapolis average: 8.5
Est. avg. finish needed: 17th
Comment: Stewart should build himself a decent cushion the next few weeks. He's very good at Indy, solid at Pocono and lights out at Watkins Glen. By mid-August, Smoke should have his Chase spot locked up.

10. Carl Edwards

Points vs. 12th: +59
Avg. finish at remaining tracks: 12.3
Best remaining track: Michigan International Raceway (6.6)
Worst remaining track: Richmond International Raceway (17.5)
Indianapolis average: 11.2
Est. avg. finish needed: 15th
Comment: The second-place run at Chicagoland couldn't have come at a better time for Edwards. Yes, they still have work to do, but it was a sign of life for a team that had been left for dead.

11. Greg Biffle

Points vs. 12th: +6
Avg. finish at remaining tracks: 16.3
Best remaining track: Bristol Motor Raceway (11.0)
Worst remaining track: Watkins Glen International (25.3)
Indianapolis average: 15.4
Est. avg. finish needed: 13th
Comment: You'd think that if Edwards can hit on something, so can Biffle. He'll need to, because the somewhat comfy cushion he had over 12th place has all but eroded.

12. Clint Bowyer

Points vs. 12th:
Avg. finish at remaining tracks: 14.0
Best remaining track: Richmond International Raceway (10.2)
Worst remaining track: Michigan International Speedway (21.2)
Indianpolis average: 13.5
Est. avg. finish needed: 12th
Comment: Bowyer has a decided advantage over the competition in that he's pretty good at the seven tracks standing between now and the Chase. The challenge will be if he can put together back-to-back solid performances, something Bowyer hasn't done a lot of this season.

13. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Points vs. 12th: -15
Avg. finish at remaining tracks: 16.0
Best remaining track: Bristol Motor Speedway (11.4)
Worst remaining track: Watkins Glen International (22.6)
Indianapolis average: 21.7
Est. avg. finish needed: 12th
Comment: The improvements Earnhardt knew he and his team still had to make were exposed at Chicagoland. That team may be better, but better from what?

14. Mark Martin

Points vs. 12th: -37
Avg. finish at remaining tracks: 12.5
Best remaining track: Watkins Glen International (7.8)
Worst remaining track: Atlanta Motor Speedway (17.3)
Indianapolis average: 13.4
Est. avg. finish needed: 11th
Comment: Another week, another lackluster finish for Martin. He may squeak his way into the Chase, but that's little consolation for a driver who wants to race for wins and a championship.

15. David Reutimann

Points vs. 12th: -96
Avg. finish at remaining tracks: 24.0
Best remaining track: Michigan International Speedway (19.0)
Worst remaining track: Atlanta Motor Speedway (27.3)
Indianapolis average:24.0
Est. avg. finish needed: 8th
Comment: The good news is Reutimann is back in contention. The bad news is his best average finish at the remaining tracks is 19th. He'll have to change history to make the 12-driver field.

16. Ryan Newman

Points vs. 12th: -99
Avg. finish at remaining tracks: 16.9
Best remaining track: Richmond International Raceway (11.4)
Worst remaining track: Indianapolis Motor Speedway (21.4)
Indianapolis average: 21.4
Est. avg. finish needed: 8th
Comment: Just when it looked like Newman might be getting into form, he posts finishes of 26th and 22nd. That's put him in a hole that he may not be able to climb out of.

17. Kasey Kahne

Points vs. 12th: -120
Avg. finish at remaining tracks: 17.3
Best remaining track: Michigan International Speedway (15.2)
Worst remaining track: Bristol Motor Speedway (21.1)
Indianapolis average: 26.0
Est. avg. finish needed: 8th
Comment: So, Kahne finishes sixth at Chicagoland and actually dropped a spot in the standings. That shows you how tight things are and how difficult it is to move up the standings.

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