Race to Chase update: Five virtual locks after Brickyard 400

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Sunday’s Brickyard 400 was the 20th of 26 regular season races before NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup. Ryan Newman enhanced his Wild Card chances with his first win of 2013, and needs to gain 20 points on Martin Truex Jr. to move into the second Wild Card position to make this year’s Chase.

Here’s where things sit as of now:

1.   Jimmie Johnson, 740 points, 4 wins
2.   Clint Bowyer, 665, 0
3.   Carl Edwards, 655, 1
4.   Kevin Harvick, 648, 2
5.   Dale Earnhardt Jr., 616, 0
6.   Matt Kenseth, 615, 4
7.   Kyle Busch, 610, 2
8.   Greg Biffle, 565, 1
9.   Kasey Kahne, 564, 1
10. Jeff Gordon, 559, 0
11. Tony Stewart, -1 behind Gordon, 1 win
12. Martin Truex Jr., -5, 1
13. Brad Keselowski, -6, 0
14. Kurt Busch, -13, 0
15. Jamie McMurray, -22, 0
16. Ryan Newman, -25, 1
17. Aric Almirola, -30, 0
18. Joey Logano, -35, 0
19. Paul Menard, -39, 0
20. Jeff Burton, -60, 0

Johnson’s 75-point lead seems almost unassailable in the regular season and he could clinch a birth with two or three races to go before the Chase starts.

VIRTUAL LOCKS: Johnson, Bowyer, Edwards, Harvick, Kenseth
ALMOST LOCKS: Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch
GOOD FOR NOW: Biffle, Kahne, Gordon, Stewart, Truex

IN RANGE: Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Newman
OUT OF RANGE:  McMurray
VIRTUALLY ELIMINATED: Almirola, Logano, Menard, Burton

IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama final practice report

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Will Power posted the fastest lap in the third practice session for the Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. with a speed of 122.953 mph.

Rookie Robert Wickens (122.552 mph) was second fast, foretelling a continuation of his incredible rookie season.

Scott Dixon (122.237), Ryan Hunter-Reay (122.231) and Alexander Rossi (122.106) rounded out the top five.

The practice was interrupted several times for incidents. 

Ed Jones spun off track in turn five after locking up his brakes with 30 minutes remaining in practice three. He was able to drive back to the pits under his own power.

With 20 minutes still on the clock, Jordan King took a trip into the fence after posting a fastest lap of 121.753 mph. He sustained substantial left side damage to his car and came back to the pits on the hook.

“I’m annoyed really,” King said afterward on the live stream at IndyCar.com. “I slightly locked the inside front, then just stayed off onto the grass and that was it. But I wasn’t really even pushing that hard.”

With two minutes remaining, Charlie Kimball lost power and pulled off the track, bringing an end to the practice session.

Dixon also had an off-road excursion.