With Kyle Busch’s win at Michigan International Speedway last weekend, one of the 12 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series spots has been gobbled up. Following this weekend’s event in Tennessee, there will only be two races left before the field will be set for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup which will culminate at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 20. The Chase will consist of the Top 10 drivers in points plus the two “Wild Card” drivers from 11th to 20th with the most wins.
Brad Keselowski (two wins) and Denny Hamlin (one win) currently hold the two “Wild Card” spots, heading into the weekend. But a victory for Paul Menard or David Ragan would knock Hamlin out of the “Wild Card” spot; moreover, a win by Marcos Ambrose or Regan Smith could also potentially do the job. Each of those drivers has one win on the season.
Drivers who have fared well recently on the speedways and road courses over the summer are in for a new challenge at Saturday night’s short track. Here are some Chase contenders to watch this weekend.
Greg Biffle Currently 13th in points with no wins this season; Biffle would take over Hamlin’s spot with a win. Fortunately for Biffle, he has the second-best driver rating (99.4) at Bristol. A “Wild Card” may be the only way for Biffle to get in; as he is 58 points out of 10th (the Top 10 in points are guaranteed in The Chase).
Denny Hamlin As mentioned, Hamlin has the final “Wild Card” spot…for now. Since he has one win and there are several other drivers with one win in or near the Top 20, he’s certainly “on the bubble.” Additionally, Biffle and Clint Bowyer have more points than Hamlin, so a win by either of them would propel them ahead of Hamlin. Hamlin has the 13th-best driver rating at Bristol but finished 33rd there earlier this season.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. He seems to be in the discussion every week, but the reality is Earnhardt Jr. remains on the bubble week after week. He is 9th in points (30 ahead of 11th-place Biffle) and has zero wins. Earnhardt Jr.’s 87.9 driver rating is 12th-best, and he finished 11th earlier this season at Bristol.
Expect these drivers to be in the thick of the Wild Card hunt. After Race 26 at Richmond, the Top 10 drivers plus two wild cards not in the Top 10 who score the highest number of victories will contend for NASCAR’s Chase For The Sprint Cup Championship “playoff” system—the winner of which will be crowned at Homestead-Miami Speedway during Ford Championship Weekend for a 10th consecutive season this fall.
Next up for the Sprint Cup drivers is Race 24 at Bristol, TONIGHT (7:30 p.m. ET, ABC)