Actually, there are six more drivers in the mix, including one sitting just two points ahead of Martin, but for the moment, Martin and Kahne are the ones sitting on either side of the Chase bubble. With just two races left before the Chase, the pressure is on.
So how did the wily veteran and the rising star deal with said pressure here at California Speedway on Saturday night?
There was no meditation, no yoga, no Tai Chi, no herbal-scented baths – at least not that they told us about. And there weren't any traditional or new-age relaxation techniques being employed.
Instead, Martin and Kahne went racing.
Kahne used some good (and somewhat fortunate) strategy to win Saturday's Ameriquest 300 Busch Series race at Fontana, while Martin led the most laps and drove his stout car to a third-place finish. Not bad for a couple of guys under pressure on the Cup side of things.
Sure, there are the obvious benefits of running a Busch race the day before the Cup event, like gaining seat time, learning how the track changes from late afternoon to evening and working on setups. But the positive impact on the driver also can be psychological.
"The Busch Series does a few things," Martin said after the race. "One thing is it causes the time to pass so you don't dwell on things as much."
So rather than fret over the following day's crucial race, Martin occupies his time by turning 150 laps at Fontana – and he has himself a good night to boot.
In doing so, Martin also proved – not that it was necessary – that he has what it takes to win at California.
"Certainly we had the car to beat, and I had a blast," said Martin, the Busch Series' all-time win leader. "If we go out there [Sunday] night and run like dirt, people aren't pointing fingers at me."
Kidding (if that's what it was) aside, the Busch run does give Martin extra confidence heading into Sunday's race.
"Don't get me wrong, I think we will run as good [Sunday] night as [Saturday]," said Martin, who credits Busch Series success early in his career with helping him keep his ride with Jack Roush despite struggling at times in the No. 6 Cup car. "The cars were very similar. I'm very happy with my Cup car."
As for Kahne, he was confident about his Chase prospects even before Saturday night's win – this despite sitting 90 points behind Martin in the Cup standings.
He's feeling even better now.
"It feels good to gain some momentum for [Sunday]," Kahne said. "I hope we can get a really good run, especially coming off [this] momentum."
Despite having used pit strategy to help him reach victory lane, Kahne's No. 9 Snuggle Dodge (yes, you read that right) was strong all night. And his Dodges on the Cup side typically also are strong at the two-mile tracks in Fontana and Michigan, as Kahne won at Michigan earlier this year.
But that didn't stop Kahne from worrying. Or at least from worrying about worrying over his precarious points situation.
"I don't know what to do [with the pressure of making the Chase]," Kahne said. "I don't want to lose any sleep over it and hurt myself for being tired and things like that."
That was before Saturday night's win. Kahne doesn't have to worry much about his mood now.
"I think anytime you win any race, it gives you momentum, gives you a good feeling," Kahne said. "It's going to be nice to wake up in the morning with a win. Everyone will be pumped up [Sunday]."
It's doubtful Kahne and Martin lost any sleep Saturday night.
Instead, it's likely they both are feeling pretty good heading into what is, for them, perhaps the biggest race of the year.