Six drivers, eight championships, 180 wins – all separated by 12 points – all competing for one major goal: a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
A scant 12 points separate eighth-place Greg Biffle and 13th-place Brad Keselowski. The names between those two: Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Martin Truex Jr.
A spot in the top 10 is big, especially for those with wins in the “regular season” – something all those names have, with the exception of Keselowski and Gordon.
After race No. 26 at Richmond International Raceway, the top 10 in points will make the Chase. Spots 11 and 12 will go to drivers outside the top 10 with the most wins, provided they are in the top 20. Each Chase driver will have their points reset to 2,000, with three bonus points tacked on for each win during the regular season. One caveat – only the top 10 drivers get the bonus points. Wild Card contenders get shutout.
Three points could be the difference between a championship and runner-up. Famously, in 2011, Carl Edwards finished in a tie with Stewart for the title, but lost on a tie-breaker. One more win in the regular season would have made the difference.
Coincidently, since 2008, five of the six drivers mentioned above have won at Pocono (Truex has not).