With six qualifying races left, a total of 10 more spots remain to be clinched to fill out the expanded 16-driver playoff field for this year’s 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Four more drivers can punch their Chase ticket in Sunday’s race at Pocono to join the six drivers that are locked in thus far: Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt Jr., while Brickyard 400 winner Jeff Gordon, six-time and defending Sprint Cup champ Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards and Joey Logano all clinched their spot in the Chase at Indianapolis.
According to NASCAR statisticians, “any driver who left Indy with a 289 point lead on 31st place clinched a top 30 points spot.”
“This weekend, the magic number is 241 – any driver 241 points ahead of 31st place clinches a top 30 spot,” a NASCAR media release stated. “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.”
But it’s not all that simple. There’s a few prerequisites to the clinching scenario for each of the four drivers:
* By virtue of his two wins, Harvick needs to score just eight points at Pocono to clinch – unless 31st-ranked David Gilliland wins and leads the most laps.
* Busch has clinched a top 30 spot, but needs another win to clinch all the way into the Chase.
* Hamlin can clinch a top 30 spot with his second win of the season, a strong likelihood given his past success at Pocono.
* Almirola could also clinch with a win Sunday at Pocono, provided he’s at least 241 points ahead of 31st place after the race.
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