There are two races left in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series before the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins.
Twelve drivers have locked themselves into the Chase field by winning a race. There will be two spots for the Chase that will go to the two drivers highest in points who have not won a race. There are two other spots left for a driver who wins one of the next two races that has not won a race yet. If no new driver wins a race then those two spots go to the next two drivers highest in points.
The race to the Chase and the scenarios on who can or will make the Chase can appear confusing or complicated. In an attempt to simplify it, here are some general ways to watch the next two races in order to be able to stay in the game without a calculator.
First off, Matt Kenseth leads all drivers in points by 41. That is just about one complete race. He will get one of those guaranteed spots that will make the Chase via points, unless there is complete disaster and major carnage plus a mediocre race.
The second group of drivers to watch, in order of points, is Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer and Greg Biffle. These drivers are quite simply racing each other for the second guaranteed spot in the Chase via points. They are also racing one another in case no new driver wins a race. They may have to race to win or race for points. This group of drivers is about 30 points from the third group of drivers. One mediocre race puts them down in their group.
The third group of drivers is, in order of points, Kyle Larson, Kasey Kahne, and Austin Dillon. These drivers cannot make the Chase unless they win a race or they race well and one of the second group of drivers falters, in which case they could get in by points.
The fourth and final group of drivers simply has only one chance to make the Chase. They absolutely must win a race. These drivers are 20th to 30th in points. See the chart below.
There you have it. You don’t need a score card; just follow the groups of drivers. If any of them win a race, they are in. The next two races will be nail biters.
The second to last race to the Chase will be at Atlanta Motor Speedway Sunday, August 31st. If you cannot get to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Oral-B USA 500 it will be broadcast on ESPN starting at 7:30 PM ET.
Feature Photo Credit: 289764 Sean Gardner/Getty Images for NASCAR