As the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series “regular season” comes to a close, the drama and excitement of The Chase takes to the track at Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend. The upcoming event in Atlanta is all that remains before “The Road to Richmond” culminates atRichmond International Raceway on Saturday, September 8 with the Federated Auto Parts 400—“One Last Race to Make The Chase.”
After last weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway, Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have clinched top-10 spots in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Matt Kenseth also clinched himself a postseason berth and is guaranteed at least a “Wild Card” position.
This week, every driver currently in the top 10 can clinch a top-10 spot at Atlanta. This turns the focus to the “Wild Card” hunt. As it stands, any driver ranked 11th-24th still has a shot at making the Chase. Notable drivers looking to race their way into the Chase with a “Wild Card” berth include: Kyle Busch (13th in points and the provisional holder of the last “Wild Card” spot), Jeff Gordon (14th), Ryan Newman (15th), Marcos Ambrose (16th) and Joey Logano (18th). Not mentioned in that group is Carl Edwards. Edwards is ranked 12th in points, but still needs a victory to become eligible for a “Wild Card” spot.
With so many drivers teetering on the bubble, here’s a look at some facts about some notable Chase hopefuls and how they have fared at Atlanta Motor Speedway:
Carl Edwards Atlanta Motor Speedway is arguably one of Edward’s strongest tracks.Edwards scored his first NSCS victory at the 1.54-mile track in the spring of 2005 and repeated that fall. On top of his three career wins, Edwards also has 10 top-10 finishes. His driver rating this week is fourth-best at 101.8. A trip to victory lane for Edwards would certainly shuffle up the “Wild Card” picture heading into Richmond.
Jeff Gordon This weekend last year, Gordon won his 85th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. So far, it’s been a tough 2011 season for Gordon, and as it stands now, he is on the outside looking in for the final “Wild Card” position. Currently sitting 14th in points with one win on the season, he needs a good finish and a bad day for Kyle Busch. This week he’s 2nd on the driver rating list at 104.1 to go along with his 5 career victories at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Kyle Busch Kyle is currently the provisional holder of the last “Wild Card” spot behind Kasey Kahne. At Atlanta, Busch has one career win and comes in with an 11th-best driver rating of 90.6. A victory this weekend would make it tough for the rest of his competitors to knock him out of that last spot.
Expect these drivers to be in the thick of the “Wild Card” hunt as “The Road to Richmond” ends at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday, September 8, for the Federated Auto Parts 400 “One Last Race to Make The Chase.” Once the checkered flag flies, the field will be set for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Only those in the top 10 and two “Wild Card” drivers will be eligible for the championship over the final 10 races of the season.