We're still five races from the beginning of the Chase, but it's looking more and more like it it's not hyperbole to claim that a single position on the race track could be the difference between missing and making the Chase.
The bog of drivers near the bottom of the top 10 didn't get much clearer on Sunday at Pocono as the six drivers from 8th-13th in the points standings all finished in the top 10. That includes Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon, the Hendrick drivers that went 1-2.
8. Kasey Kahne, 612 points: Kahne's win solidifies his position in the top 10, but it's also important because he now has more wins than anyone else with a realistic chance of grabbing a Wild Card berth. If we're going to crown a "biggest winner" of this group, yes, it's the guy winning the race.
9. Jeff Gordon, -10 points to Kahne: If we crown a biggest winner, we also have to crown a biggest loser, and despite moving up a spot, it goes to Gordon. Why? Because this might have been his best chance at a win this season. Gordon's in a good position now, but if he falls out of the top 10 there's no parachute.
10. Greg Biffle, -13 points: Biffle drops two spots despite finishing 10th. That win at Michigan is looking very important right now.
11. Tony Stewart, -18 points: The first Wild Card goes to Smoke right now, and unless any of the drivers in this group gets to victory number two over the next five races, points position is looking like it'll be the ultimate decider. Stewart finished 9th.
12. Brad Keselowski, -20 points: Like Gordon, Kes, who finished sixth, is without a victory, so he's got his sights set on 10th place and Greg Biffle. Could he get him at Watkins Glen? Biffle has three top 10s and a morass of bad finishes in 10 starts there. Keselowski has two second place finishes in three starts.
13. Kurt Busch, -24 points: Another really fast car off the truck on Friday for Kurt Busch, and another solid finish, as Busch finished third. That speed is eventually going to turn into a win, but will it be soon enough?
14. Martin Truex Jr., -28 points: A miserable first half of the race for Truex turned into a 15th place finish. Right now, he's still Wild Card No. 2, so he's hoping no one ahead of him wins.
15. Ryan Newman, -37 points: Is Newman's late charge going to be enough? Right now, he just needs to score 10 more points than Truex to make the Chase after finishing fourth.