Published August 30, 2013
We are now heading into the final two races of the NASCAR Sprint Cup regular season - Atlanta on Sunday and then Richmond the following Saturday night.
Brad Keselowski, our defending champion, is four points out of 10th but doesn't have a win. Kurt Busch, who is a former champion and made the announcement earlier this week that he is moving to Stewart-Haas Racing at the end of the season, is six points out of 10th but without a win. Four-time series champion Jeff Gordon is 11 points out of 10th but like the previous two drivers, I mentioned, he, too, is without a win.
Now the good news is that still with the clock ticking down, I can see one or more of them making it into the top 10 and gaining an automatic berth in the Chase. The problem is who are they going to displace? The reason I say that is because other than Greg Biffle, all the drivers on the back-side of the top 10 are running really well right now.
Kurt Busch is fast everywhere. Sure, the news that he is leaving at the end of the season now is a big distraction for his team. Kurt made it quite clear that next year is next year and he'll worry about that after Homestead. He guaranteed the fans and his team that he is laser-locked onto not only getting that No. 78 car into the Chase but also gunning for the championship before he leaves.
All bets are off if Brad, Kurt or Jeff would win one of the two remaining races. That will really, really shake up the Wild Card picture if they would have a win, yet still be outside the top 10 in points. The one I think should really be worried is the guy sitting in ninth - Greg Biffle. Yes, he moved up a position to ninth following Bristol, but they simply aren't running well.
Remember what got Jeff Gordon into the Chase last year? He finished second at both Atlanta and Richmond. If he could replicate that again this year, even without a win, Jeff Gordon will get in the top 10 and make the Chase. Who he pushes out is the even bigger question.
The No. 2 car has been on a pretty good run of late but Brad even admitted they are struggling with consistency right now. There couldn't be a worse time than right now not to be consistent. The reality is, though, anyone out there who can right now today tell you who the 2013 Chase field of 12 will be is a smarter man than I am.
There's still two wins out there available. Sure, it could be another win for someone that has one or more wins this year or it could be someone like Brad, Kurt and Jeff that desperately are seeking their first victory this season. Remember, all three combined are 11 points out of 10th. There is a legitimate scenario that all three could make their way into the top 10 in these next two races.
So if all three go in, what three come out? Like I mentioned earlier this week, no one has the ability to predict a problems under the hood like Carl Edwards had at Bristol. No one can predict a tire going down late in the race. Especially at the short-track of Richmond, which is the last race before the Chase field is set, no one can predict getting caught up in someone else's wreck.
Seriously, in a blink of an eye at Richmond, your 2013 Chase dreams could go POOF through no fault of your own.