Who has a Chance for the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup?

Race to Win or Race for Points to Make the Chase?

There are three races to go and four spots in the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup open and available. There has never been a “Go Time” like this at the end of the regular season in NASCAR.

Right now there are four drivers who will be in the Chase by points. They are, in order of points, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer and Greg Biffle. Since there are three races left and four spots, at least one driver will make the Chase for the Sprint Cup by points.

If any driver who has not won yet wins a race, they will make the Chase. They would also take one of those four spots away from those trying to get in by points. If you are any of the four drivers above do you race for maximum points? Do you really have to win a race? Is this as nerve racking as it would appear?

In reality, anything can happen. The way the top seven drivers have been racing, we really could have three winners who have won previously such that racing by points would be acceptable to make the Chase. To add to that, the odds are good that one or more of those drivers on the points bubble is also the driver most likely to get a race win in the next three.

What are the statistics for those drivers not locked in for the next three races? How do they compare with one another? Who is most likely to either win or gain maximum points to make the Chase?

Driver Bristol Atlanta Richmond Weighted Rank Current Points
Matt Kenseth 102.7 96.5 85.7 29 709
Greg Biffle 93.7 91.3 81.5 26 660
Kasey Kahne 88.9 86 87.6 25 651
Kyle Larson * 104.5 90 66.1 24 636
Clint Bowyer 82 84.8 98.7 24 672
Ryan Newman 86 74.1 92 22 679
Jamie McMurray 76.3 73.7 74.8 14 596
Marcos Ambrose 80.7 68.1 70.1 13 616
Brian Vickers 69.4 81.1 65.9 11 598
Paul Menard 72.6 63.6 58.8 6 614
Austin Dillon 67.4 67.3 54.9 4 638

* Note Kyle Larson has no rating for Atlanta. His rating was estimated via his rating at Texas Motor Speedway

In the table each drivers rating for each of the next three tracks was entered and then weighted relative to one another. If they had the highest rating they received an 11; the lowest a 1. These ranking were then simply added together to get the weighted score.

Though the chart itself will not predict who makes the Chase—since any driver could pull off a single win—it does point to the drivers who have a better chance than others.

First off, Matt Kenseth is leading these drivers in points by 49—or one full race. He also is at the top of the Chart. Of all the drivers, he has the best chance of being able to point’s race and get into the Chase.

It is apparent by the rankings that Greg Biffle, Kasey Kahne, Kyle Larson, Clint Bowyer and Ryan Newman are racing themselves for whatever spot is available by points. The leader board for that race is currently Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle, Kasey Kahne, Austin Dillon and Kyle Larson. Note there are only two points between Dillon and Larson due to Larson’s unfortunate crash and fire at Michigan.

The chart also shows that of those drivers the ones who have the best chance of pulling off a win are the same six drivers that are racing for points.

The next three races are going to be exciting. Some of those drivers in the Chart above will be points racing and others will be racing for the win. Since they are racing one another that strategy may even change throughout the race depending on what is happening. Either way, put seat belts on your chair because it’s going to be one wild ride to the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 289529 John Harrelson/Getty Images