With Aric Almirola’s win last Sunday at Daytona, 11 spots on the Chase Grid have been secured.
Of the remaining five spots that are still up for grabs, three of them are occupied by Richard Childress Racing.
But with no wins between them, Ryan Newman (pictured, right), Paul Menard, and Austin Dillon are far from safe.
Newman sits 13th in the Grid (534 points), Menard is 14th (516 points), and Dillon is holding the 16th and final position (494 points) with just a four-point lead over Greg Biffle.
Eight races remain in the 2014 regular season and at this point of the year, the consequences of a bad result have a greater impact.
Perhaps mindful of that, RCR recently tested at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, which will host the Sprint Cup Series this weekend and again in September for the second race of the Chase.
Additionally, Menard will compete in Saturday’s Nationwide Series event at the Magic Mile along with Sunday’s Camping World RV Sales 301.
But out of the three RCR drivers, Newman may have the best chance this weekend to get a win and lock himself into the post-season.
New Hampshire is where he earned his first Cup win in 2002, and he’s got three Cup wins there overall (2005, 2011).
“This Caterpillar team just needs to stay focused and keep doing what we are doing,” Newman said in a release. “Kentucky was big for us to be able to get that ice breaker of a Top-5 out of the way. You really can’t expect to win a race by running 11th, 10th and seventh.
“But when you are in the Top 3, you are proving that you have a chance. I believe that’s the direction this team is headed and to look for a similar run this weekend in Loudon.”
As for Dillon and Menard, they too are optimistic but know that they need to have good cars around New Hampshire’s relatively flat corners (two to seven degrees of banking on each end of the track).
“If you’re not comfortable with that amount of banking, it can be difficult to really get your balance right on the car,” said Dillon, who has run at New Hampshire in Nationwide and Trucks. “You have to give up certain points of the corner in order to be good on the long run, and then also off the corner.”
“It’s really hard to pass, but it’s a couple grooves so you just have to make your car work where the other guys can’t,” said Menard. “We’ll try to work on that apron and get some good drive off, but you have to maintain the turn.”