By Ken de la Bastide
---- — With just eight races remaining before the Sprint Cup Chase for the Championship begins in Chicago, there is a logjam of drivers surrounding the No. 10 points position.
The top 10 drivers in the points standings make the Chase, and the two wild-card positions are determined by race victories or the next two in the points standings.
Tony Stewart’s second-place finish at Daytona vaulted him into the 10th spot in points, but he maintains a slim six-point advantage over Martin Truex Jr. and Kasey Kahne. All three of them have one victory on the year.
Stewart is two markers behind Kurt Busch.
Defending champion Brad Keselowski is currently 13th in the 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 10th 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. Points leader Jimmie Johnson, with four points 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 good positions 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.
In other racing news
There was one thing obvious at the Izod IndyCar race at Pocono and that was plenty of speed. Marco Andretti qualified at 49 miles per hour faster than the NASCAR Sprint Cup track record at the track.
Andretti’s speed was over 220 mph in qualifying and during the race the drivers were turning laps at 216 mph.
Tony Kanaan going for the second leg of the Fuzzy’s Triple Crown made an unexpected mistake while passing Scott Dixon for the lead and damaged the wing of his car requiring a pit stop.
With the additional stop Kanaan saw his opportunity to win $1 million slip away. If either Kanaan or Dixon when the season-ending race at Auto Club Speedway, they will pocket a $250,000 bonus.
Ken de la Bastide may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 765-454-8580.