Heading into Pocono, four drivers had a chance to officially clinch their berth in the upcoming and expanded 16-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup field.
However, only one driver wound up clinching, that being Kevin Harvick.
Harvick is the seventh driver to have officially locked up a spot in the Chase, the others being Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards and Joey Logano.
Sunday’s race at Watkins Glen presents an opportunity for several more drivers to officially punch their ticket into the Chase.
But this is where things could get tricky statistically, just like one of Watkins Glen’s tricky turns.
Here’s how things shake out, per NASCAR’s statisticians:
* If a repeat 2014 winner is triumphant this Sunday, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Aric Almirola and Kurt Busch will all officially be in the Chase.
* However, if there is a first-time winner in 2014 – someone that has yet to win such as Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth and others – it could mean only one driver, namely Kyle Busch, would officially clinch a Chase berth.
* But there’s a caveat to that: If Kenseth wins, he would likely become perhaps the only driver to clinch. However, that scenario is a longshot, given Watkins Glen is arguably Kenseth’s worst track on the Sprint Cup circuit.
* Likewise, if Newman or Bowyer were to win Sunday – and they are both decent road course racers – they would clinch their spot, but not the other, nor Kenseth.
* After Watkins Glen, the clinching driver must be 193 points ahead of 31st place.
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