NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup should be the most exciting part of the season, especially if it's anything like last year's epic run between Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards. This year, however, the excitement seems to be brewing just outside of the top 10: the race for the two Wild Card positions in the Chase is tight, and there are at least four drivers vying for them - more if someone else wins in the next seven races. Here are the top drivers looking for a spot in the Chase going into the July 29 event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Kasey Kahne - Kahne's second win of the season last weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway gave him the edge on the first Wild Card spot, and he'd like to get another: "Two helps, but three would put you in a real good spot. We're going to stay after it," Kahne said in the post-race interview. He has 10 top-10 finishes this season, and has five combined wins at the remaining tracks before the Chase.
Kyle Busch - sitting 13th in points with one win, Busch holds down the second Wild Card spot; he has eight top 10 finishes this season, and like Kahne has five wins at the remaining tracks before the Chase for the Cup. He's just two points behind Kahne for 12th, but would need another win to take back the first Wild Card spot.
Ryan Newman - Newman, with one win on the season, sits nine points behind Busch for the second Wild Card spot. He has four wins at the remaining tracks, with an average start at those tracks of 9.5, best among the current top 20 in the standings.
Joey Logano - the last driver with a win outside the top 10, Logano is 12 points behind his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Busch for the final Wild Card spot. That one win came at the track the Cup Series returns to on August 5, Pocono Raceway, where Logano was very strong from testing and practice to the race.
Carl Edwards - Edwards sits 11th in points - but that's not near enough to get him a Wild Card spot. 46 points behind 10th-place Brad Keselowski, Edwards needs a win to have any shot at making another run for the title. At the remaining tracks on the schedule before the Chase, Edwards has nine wins.
Jeff Gordon - is it too late for Jeff Gordon? He's 21 points behind Busch in the standings, and has yet to get a win. His last win came at Atlanta last year - the second-to-last race before the Chase - and he has 27 combined wins at the remaining tracks, including four at "the Brickyard." If he does find a lucky horseshoe in the next few weeks, it'll make for a very interesting story indeed.
Source: "NASCAR National News and Notes," NASCAR Media, July 17, 2012
Paula is a long-time NASCAR fan who also covers the sport at Skirts & Scuffs and Examiner.com.
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