Chase Watch: Jeff Burton demands you pay attention to him

With only a handful of races left until the Chase, it's time to start considering who'll make it to the dance, and who will be left home alone by the phone. Let's take a look at the contenders, shall we?

In for the moment: Kevin Harvick continues to run the show, followed by Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton, Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle and Mark Martin.

Outside looking in: Clint Bowyer fell out of the Chase by a mere 10 points. Several other drivers are within 200 points -- Ryan Newman, Jamie McMurray, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne and David Reutimann. Juan Pablo Montoya, despite his Watkins Glen win, is way, way out of the running now.

Movin' on up: Burton and Kurt were the big winners this week, moving up two and three places respectively. Burton hasn't won a race yet this season, but he's on the way to establishing himself as a potential dark-horse championship contender. Kurt Busch, meanwhile, continues to solidify his bona fides as one of the best drivers in NASCAR. Further down the line, Martin snuck into the Chase for the moment, while Jamie McMurray continued his climb into near-Chase contention.

Bottoming out: Bad news for Mr. Next-Jimmie-Johnson, as Hamlin dropped three spots back into sixth. Not that it'll matter; he's in the Chase and he's got 50 bonus points. But confidence breeds confidence, and the last thing Hamlin needs is to be limping into the Chase. Further down the line, Bowyer is looking at a repeat of 2009 -- so close to the Chase, but yet so far -- while the bell is tolling for Junior and Kasey as they fall further out of contention.

Prospects: Barring a major collapse by either Martin or Bowyer, it'll be very tough for Newman or McMurray to sneak into the Chase hunt. So it's all about positioning and momentum now.

All right, your turn. Which drivers do you predict will make the cut, and which will be watching the Chase from the outside with a tear in their eye?

What to Read Next