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: Newgarden, Sato quickest in first of 2 Friday practices at Road America

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Josef Newgarden was quickest in the first of Friday’s two INDYCAR practice sessions at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

The 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series champion covered the 4.048-mile, 14-turn course with a best lap of 1:43.0477, followed by Takuma Sato (1:43.4729), Alexander Rossi (1:43.5603), Robert Wickens (1:43.5774) and Marco Andretti (1:43.8825).

Sixth-quickest was Tony Kanaan (1:44.0429), followed by Spencer Pigot (1:44.1080), Zach Veach (1:44.1306), Scott Dixon (1:44.1643) and Matheius Leist (1:44.2963).

Alfonso Celis Jr., making his Verizon IndyCar Series debut and with Juncos Racing, was 22nd quickest in the 23-car field at 1:44.9164, while Gabby Chaves was the slowest driver on the course at 1:46.4485.

While there were no significant incidents during the 45-minute session, a number of drivers struggled in several turns, primarily due to some lingering puddles from overnight rain, as well as on rumble strips that threw their cars into adjacent grass areas.

The second practice session today takes place at 4:15 p.m. ET.

A third practice kicks off Saturday’s busy day at Noon ET, followed by qualifying at 4 p.m. ET, the second round of qualifying at 4:40 p.m. ET and the third and final round of qualifying at 5 p.m. ET.

The weekend’s main event, Sunday’s KOHLER Grand Prix, takes the green flag shortly after 1 p.m. ET. Make sure to tune in to NBCSN for the live telecast of the race.

We’ll have the full practice grid and driver quotes shortly. Please check back soon.

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