Blog: NASCAR enters home stretch

By Ryan Narramore

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race to the Chase 2010
It’s almost “playoff time” in NASCAR, with the Chase for the Sprint Cup just two races away.

Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon are sitting comfortably in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series right now. They’ve each secured their spot in this season’s Chase for the Sprint Cup and are gearing up to run down a championship. Heading into Atlanta this weekend, several drivers are looking to lock in their place and shot at the championship too.

In order to secure a spot in the Chase, a driver will need to have a 196 point lead above the No. 13 spot in the Sprint Cup points standings after Atlanta. Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin are the most likely to clinch their spot in the Chase this weekend. Without leading any laps at Atlanta and regardless of how any other drivers finish, Kyle Busch needs to finish 40th or better, Edwards 21st or better and Hamlin 20th or better.

Other drivers that have a chance at locking in their shot at the championship in Atlanta are Tony Stewart, Jeff Burton and Matt Kenseth. For these drivers, Stewart needs a 19th place finish or better, Burton 17th and Kenseth 15th. You never know how things will turn out, but it looks like Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch and Greg Biffle will have to see what happened at Richmond, with Johnson needing to finish 10th or better, Kurt Busch 9th and Biffle 4th.

Clint Bowyer is the only driver in the Top 12 who cannot clinch a spot at Atlanta. Bowyer will continue to battle Jamie McMurray and Mark Martin – who are only 100 and 101 points, respectively, behind the No. 12 spot – to hang onto his chances at making the Chase.

With the Chase just two races away, the points will be reset and 12 drivers will start a brand-new season. But for the rest, it’s all about winning races, improving performance and looking ahead to next year. Jeff Owens has more at SceneDaily.com: http://www.scenedaily.com/news/articles/sprintcupseries/Jeff_Owens_For_Dale_Earnhardt_Jr_and_these_nine_drivers_the_final_12_Sprint_Cup_races_are_crucial.html

Check out the SceneDaily.com staff predications for this weekend’s Sprint Cup action at Atlanta here: http://www.scenedaily.com/news/articles/sprintcupseries/PREDICTIONS_Kurt_Busch_favored_to_double_up_at_Atlanta_but_Jamie_McMurray_Kasey_Kahne_could_surprise.html

While Kyle Busch is likely to lock in his much-deserved spot in this year’s Chase after jumping five positions in this week’s Sprint Cup points standings, the 25-year-old driver is entered in all three of NASCAR’s national touring series this weekend – Camping World Trucks at Kentucky and Sprint Cup and Nationwide at Atlanta.

A victory at Kentucky will tie the record with four other drivers with five wins in a row, while a win in Saturday’s Nationwide race could tie him with one other driver holding the six-race winning streak record. While unlikely – even though he just did it three weeks ago – a first-place finish at Atlanta in Sunday’s Sprint Cup race would tie Busch with Mark Martin for the second longest winning streak in NASCAR history.

Outside of Busch’s consecutive winning streaks, he’s also got a chance at setting another Nationwide record. Sporting News’ Lee Montgomery talks more about Busch’s shot here: http://www.sportingnews.com/nascar/story/2010-09-02/kyle-busch-one-win-from-nationwide-record

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