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
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
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
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.