By AMANDA VINCENT
The Drive for Safety 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., on Saturday afternoon is race 26 on the 2016 series schedule, making it the final race of the “regular season.” Ten drivers head into the Chicagoland race already with a berth clinched for the series’ first ever chase to determine its champion. Two spots are up for grabs.
Three championship-eligible drivers — Erik Jones, Elliott Sadler and Daniel Suarez — already have their chase berths by virtue of race win(s) in the 25 races up to this point. Seven other drivers are in safe enough positions, points-wise, to have their chase berths firmly in-hand. Those drivers include Justin Allgaier, Ty Dillon, Brendan Gaughan, Brennan Poole, Brandon Jones, Darrell Wallace Jr. and Ryan Reed.
The two drivers in the final two provisional chase spots heading into the Chicagoland race at Blake Koch and Ryan Sieg, but their spots aren’t secure.
Any driver in the top-30 of the points standings after Chicagoland would claim one of the final chase berths with a win on Saturday. Without a win, here is what needs to be done by each of the four drivers not locked-in but with a shot at getting one of the final two chase spots on points (courtesy of NASCAR):
Blake Koch — (0 Wins, 570 Points, +449 Points Ahead of 31st) – Would clinch on Points with 39 Points (2nd and no laps led, 3rd and led at least one lap, 4th and led most laps) and a new winner. Would clinch on Points with a repeat winner and 19 Points (22nd and no laps led, 23rd and led at least one lap, 24th and led most laps). With a win, would clinch a Chase spot on wins.
Ryan Sieg — (0 Wins, 567 Points, +446 Points Ahead of 31st) – Would clinch on Points with a repeat winner (or Blake Koch win) and 22 Points (19th and no laps led, 20th and led at least one lap, 21st and led most laps). With a win, would clinch a Chase spot on wins. Could clinch on Points with a new winner and help (needs to outpoint all three of Blake Koch by 3 points and give up 19 or 20 (depending on tie-breakers) or less to Dakoda Armstrong points and 28 or 29 points or less to Jeremy Clements).
Dakoda Armstrong — (0 Wins, 547 Points, +426 Points Ahead of 31st) – With a win, he would clinch a Chase spot on wins. Could clinch on Points with help (needs to outpoint all three of the following if a new winner or two out of three if there is a repeat winner: Ryan Sieg by 20 points (if he finishes 3rd or higher) or 21 points with a worse finish, Blake Koch by 23 points and give up 8 or less points to Jeremy Clements).
Jeremy Clements — (0 Wins, 538 Points, +417 Points Ahead of 31st) – With a win, would clinch a Chase spot on wins. Could clinch on Points with help (needs to outpoint all three if a new winner or two out of three if there is a repeat winner: Dakoda Armstrong by 9 points, Ryan Sieg by 29 or 30 points and Blake Koch by 32 points).
Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook (facebook.com/nascarexaminer)