With just eight races remaining before the Sprint Cup chase for the championship begins in Chicago, there is a log jam of drivers surrounding the 10th point’s position.The top 10 drivers in the point standings and the two wild card positions are determined by victories or the next two in the point standings.
Tony Stewart’s second place finish at Daytona vaulted him into the 10th spot in points, but he maintains a slip six-point advantage over Martin Truex Jr. and Kasey Kahne. All three of these drivers have one victory on the year. Stewart is two markers behind Kurt Busch.
Defending champion Brad Keselowski is currently 13th in the point standings, 11 points behind Stewart. Keselowski has mostly an up-and-down season and is still looking for that first win of the year. Another driver on the outside looking in is Jeff Gordon, who is 12 points out of the tenth spot and also looking for that first win of the year.
At this point in the season, four drivers are probably locked into the chase. Point leader Jimmie Johnson, with four victories plus a victory in the All Star race, has a 49-point lead over Clint Bowyer. Bowyer, Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick are the other drivers looking at another shot at the title.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch are probably in a good position to make the chase. Realistically, there are probably no other drivers with a shot at the chase. Joey Logano and Ryan Newman would be possibilities but don’t appear to be hitting on all cylinders heading into the final races leading up to the chase. After missing four races and crashing at Kentucky and Daytona, Denny Hamilin will not be a chase driver unless he somehow manages to win two of the last eight races.