Blog: NASCAR enters home stretch
By Ryan Narramore
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
Related PIR News
Kevin Harvick did something Sunday that no driver had ever done in the 52-year history of Phoenix International Raceway. The 39-year-old from Bakersfield, Calif. scored a victory in his fourth consecutive race in the same professional series at the legendary one-mile oval in the Arizona desert, leading 224 of 312 laps to win the CampingWorld.com 500.
Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano put on a dominating display at Phoenix International Raceway in Saturday’s AXALTA Faster. Tougher. Brighter 200, the fourth race of 2015 in the NASCAR XFINITY series.
Ruben Pardo earned his first NASCAR Mexico Series win at Phoenix International Raceway in the Toyota 120 on Friday. After starting on the pole, Pardo fell as low as 12th but fought back to the front in the late stages.
Pop music sensation Tori Kelly will perform the national anthem prior to the start of the CampingWorld.com 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday, March 15, highlighting the pre-race festivities. Kelly’s performance will be included in the live national television broadcast of the race on FOX at 12:30 p.m. local time (3:30 p.m. Eastern).
Phoenix International Raceway is encouraging fans to prepare for race day traffic by arriving early and enjoying the full NASCAR experience during the CampingWorld.com 500 event weekend, March 13-15. In addition to the CampingWorld.com 500 on Sunday, March 15 at 12:30 p.m. PST, the race weekend at PIR will include the Axalta Faster. Tougher. Brighter. 200 NASCAR XFINITY Series race on Saturday, March 14 at 1 p.m. PST and the Toyota 120 NASCAR Mexico Series race on Friday, March 13 at 7 p.m. PST.