With only a handful of races remaining before the Chase to the Sprint Cup, NASCAR drivers and teams are gearing up for an all out dog fight for the final 12 spots available in the chase. The Chase to the Sprint Cup is the final stage in the 36 week racing year. The last 10 races in the year are considered The Chase Races.
Throughout the year, drivers compete in the first 26 races and receive points for their finishes. The top 10 drivers at the end of the 26 race span plus two wild card entries are then locked in to the 12 chase positions and are the only drivers that can compete for the coveted Sprint Cup. The Sprint Cup has been dominated the past five years by Jimmie Johnson and he looks to continue that dominance going into this years chase.
Points System Explained
Want your favorite driver to compete in the Chase? Here is how they can get there. During the first 26 races, divers can gain valuable points by out racing their opponents. Those who win a race will get 43 points for their finish. They also get 3 points for winning the race. The second place driver gets 42 points, third gets 41 and so on. Each driver can also get 1 point for leading a lap and 1 point for leading the most laps. So, the winner would receive a minimum of 47 points and a maximum of 48. Second would receive a minimum of 42 points and a maximum of 44. The drivers will accumulate the points and at the end of the 26 races those in the top 10 in points will be locked into the chase. Their are also 2 wild card slots open for the chase. These positions will go to the 2 drivers that have the most wins that sit between 11th and 20th in points. All the chase drivers will then be given the same amount of points and each driver will be awarded 3 extra points for wins they earned during the first 26 races. The drivers of the wild card spots will not be awarded the extra points for wins.
With this new points system, every position is crucial. Heading into the final 2 races before the Chase, six drivers are locked in. Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon. The remaining 4 drivers in the top ten could face falling out if they have bad finishes in these next two weeks. They include, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr and Tony Stewart. The two drivers currently siting in the two wild card positions are Brad Keselowksi with 3 wins and Denny Hamlin with 1 win.
This is gearing up to be a close and memorable Chase for the Cup. Dale Earnhardt Jr has failed to make all but 3 chases. This year he is poised to make it in if things go well in the next few races. Also getting fans excited is the late season rally by Brad Keselowski, he has moved from 21th in points to 11th in just 5 races. He is defiantly the hottest driver on the circuit right now and someone to keep an eye on to the championship.