---- — With just two races rem-aining before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase for the Champion-ship begins, only Jimmie Johnson is locked into the 12-car field.
Several other drivers, while not mathematically locked into the Chase field, are in good spots to make the field including Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch.
What will get interesting is the battle for the 10th spot and then the two wildcard slots, which are largely based on wins.
Drivers outside the top 10 in points have to be hoping that Matt Kenseth, currently sixth in the standings, remains inside the top 10. With five victories, Kenseth is assured of a spot in the Chase.
Kasey Kahne, eighth in the standings, will probably make the Chase field based on his two wins.
The only two drivers currently in the top 10 in points without a win are Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Bowyer.
Drivers needing a win at Atlanta or Richmond include Earnhardt, Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch.
Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Newman both are outside the top 10 in points, but have each recorded a victory this year. If nothing changes inside the top 10 over the next two weeks and there is not another first-time winner in 2013, they should make the Chase as long as they remain in the top 20 in points, a requirement for wild-card hopefuls.
Over the past 14 races at Atlanta, Gordon has the second-highest driver rating, trailing only teammate Johnson. Kurt Busch is ranked seventh at Atlanta and Little E is ranked eighth.
Atlanta could be the make-or-break race for drivers hoping to make the Chase field. A bad run could eliminate any hopes of battling for the title.
IN OTHER RACING NEWS
• In what has become a recurring theme this year, Kenseth held off Kahne to win the Sprint Cup race at Bristol. Several times this year Kenseth has beat Kahne to the checkered flag.
To his credit, Kahne has not attempted to wreck Kenseth in the final laps of any of the races to score the victory. Nice guys might finish second, but Kahne has demonstrated that he is a clean racer, regardless of the situation.
• The NHRA U.S. Nationals will be taking place this weekend at Lucas Oil Raceway with drag racing action starting on Thursday and the finals set for Labor Day.
• Winchester Speedway is hosting its annual two-day Labor Day weekend. The ARCA/CRA Super Series late models will be competing in a 100-lap event on Monday, the last tune-up before the Winchester 400 in October. A strong field of cars is anticipated. The JEGS/CRA All Stars Tour will compete in a 100-lap event on Sunday.
Ken de la Bastide may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 765-454-8580.