Who Makes The Chase For The Cup?
 
Photo by Paul Strickland Jr. / TheRacingExperts.Com
Ryan Newman is running out of time to make the Chase.

By Zachary Lange
TheRacingExperts.Com Reporter
8/6/2012
theracingexperts@aol.com

 

 

With this summer being one of the hottest on record, many people are staying indoors to beat the heat. However, the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season is flaming hot regardless. With only five races until the field is reset for the ten Chase races, several drivers are racing the wheels off to secure a spot to race for the coveted championship. But due to a recent rule change, drivers aren’t solely locked in on points. While there are 12 slots for the championship dash, only ten are locked by points, the other two are “wildcard” positions. Eligibility for a wildcard spot includes being in the top 20 in points, with at least one win. If more than two drivers outside the top 10 have the same amount of wins (five have one win, with Kahne having two) the person with the most points will move on. This new format creates quite a stir, and has all NASCAR fans asking who will make the Chase? Well, let’s take a rundown of all the drivers in real contention.



 

Kyle Busch - Busch has one win on the season, and has certainly proven he is playoff material. With nine top-ten finishes on the year, and an average finish of an impressing 15th, Busch can make the Chase if he can stay consistent. One area of concern is the lack of lead lap finishes (13 out of 20) and if his engines, which faltered three weeks in a row, can hold the entire race. Despite the damaged acquired at Pocono, the No. 18 team still has a chance to be in the post season.


Carl Edwards - Carl hasn’t had a year to remember. After tying for the championship last year (losing to a tiebreaker), Edwards has yet to win this year, and having his average finish drop from 9th to 15th…not the very best rebound for the 99. Nevertheless he can still be in the hunt for the championship, but he has to find a way to get that car to victory lane this season. Perhaps a win at Michigan in a couple of weeks is in the realm of possibilities.


Kasey Kahne - If there was an award for comeback driver of the year, Kahne would be your man. After getting a ride with the one of the best teams in the business, Kahne was looking to be one of the premier drivers in Sprint Cup. But six weeks into the season, his best finish was 14th, and that was his only good finish. The others were in the 20’s and 30’s. But after the rust was wiped off, he reeled off six top 10’s in a row and a win at Dover, add in another at Loudon and you have a driver who, unless challenged by a couple others, should be in the hunt for the championship.


Ryan Newman - After having his best year since the glory days in 2003 last year, Newman has gone back to the same old same old, and that’s a finish in about, 18th…But due to consistency, and Clint Bowyer taking out the leaders at Martinsville, Newman is sitting 14th in points. In order for “Flyin’ Ryan” to get into the Chase, he needs another win, or more Busch engine failures.


Other names in the hat to win access for the Chase are Jeff Gordon, Paul Menard, and Joey Logano.

 

Gordon took a big step in taking back his season with his win this Sunday, but the No. 24 team still has their work cut out for them in order to get into the Chase. He is now part of the mix of drivers that can make the Chase on the wildcard scenario, and the next few races have historically been decent tracks for him. Consistency holds the key to making the playoffs for Jeff Gordon.



Menard hasn't had a win this season. And with only one wild card position open for drivers with one win, it is unlikely that he will make it. And Logano, who has won a race is dozens of points back from the other drivers with one win, so he will need other drivers to have bad runs, or another win.



Overall the wildcard race is shaping up to be very exciting. And with tricky track in Watkins Glen coming up, temperatures off the track will stay hot, and on the track, well, they’ll be at boiling point.