The Jimmie Johnsons and Brad Keselowskis of the world have been getting most of the “favorite” votes, but here are some other drivers to watch:
Kevin Harvick: On Tuesday, Stewart-Haas Racing announced that the No. 4 and the No. 14 teams were swapping pit crews. That move, alone, may have launched Harvick into “favorite” status. The No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing driver has had one of the fast cars on the circuit this year, winning two races and six poles, but some mistakes and struggles on pit road have haunted him. He now has the 2011 championship pit crew on his side for the remaining 10 races.
AJ Allmendinger: Perhaps the feel-good story of the year, Allmendinger finds himself in the Chase thanks to the new “win and you’re in” format after holding off Marcos Ambrose for the victory at Watkins Glen. It marked the first-ever Sprint Cup win for Allmendinger and JTG/Daugherty Racing, who signed the 32-year-old in 2013 – his first season back since finishing NASCAR’s Road to Recovery program after his suspension for a failed drug test in July of 2012. Allmendinger specializes on road courses, none of which are in the Chase, but his best oval course happens to be Dover, which hosts the final race of the Challenger Round.
Carl Edwards: Normally a bona fide contender, Edwards enters this year’s Chase in a state of flux. He will be leaving Roush Fenway Racing for Joe Gibbs Racing at the end of the season and hasn’t found himself near the front of the pack recently. Although Edwards has two wins this season, he has just three top 10s with two high finishes of fifth-place in his last 10 starts. Though he struggled at Richmond, teammate Greg Biffle entered last week’s race with five consecutive top-10 finishes.