Four more drivers cleared the two toughest hurdles for entry into the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, joining Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brad Keselowski, both of whom locked up a spot on the Chase Grid at New Hampshire.
At Indianapolis, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards and Joey Logano all either scored a second win (Gordon) or clinched a top 30 points spot (Johnson, Edwards and Logano). Now, those six drivers need only to attempt to qualify for the remaining six races to “officially” earn a spot in the Chase.
As a reminder, any driver with multiple wins guarantees himself a spot in the top 15 winners (or top 16, if the points leader after race No. 26 has a win). Any driver who left Indy with a 289 point lead on 31st place clinched a top 30 points spot.
Now, the series heads to Pocono Raceway, where four more drivers have a chance to clinch a spot in the Chase.
This weekend, the magic number is 241 – any driver 241 points ahead of 31st place clinches a top 30 spot. If a driver does that, and has multiple wins, he clinches a spot.
Those who can do it this weekend: Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Aric Almirola. Harvick’s two wins mean he needs only to clinch a top 30 spot – a near certainty, as he needs to score only eight points at Pocono to do so (and that’s if 31st place David Gilliland wins and leads the most laps). Busch has clinched a top 30 spot, but needs another win to clinch. Hamlin has yet to clinch a top 30 spot. He would clinch with a win and some help.
Almirola would need to win this weekend to clinch, and get a good bit of help to also lock up a top 30 spot.