As many as 4 more drivers can clinch Chase spot at Pocono

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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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Karam, Daly get IndyCar rides with Carlin for Iowa

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NEWTON, Iowa – Sage Karam returns for the second-straight race and Conor Daly is back for another race with Carlin Racing at this weekend’s Iowa 300 NTT IndyCar Series race at Iowa Speedway.

For Karam, it’s his third start of the 2019 season and his second straight with Carlin. In his five starts at Iowa Speedway dating back to 2010, Karam has never finished outside of the top three, recording four wins (USF2000 – 2010, Indy Pro 2000 – 2011 and 2012, Indy Lights – 2013) and scoring his first NTT IndyCar Series podium in 2015 with a third-place finish.

“I’m really excited to be back again this weekend with Carlin and SmartStop Self Storage for the Iowa 300. Iowa Speedway has always been a good track for me in the past, so I’m really looking forward to getting back to work there,” Karam said. “Coming off of a very productive weekend in Toronto, I’m looking forward to applying everything I’ve learned and continuing to work with the team to get the best results possible. A huge thank you to everyone at Carlin and SmartStop Self Storage for a great opportunity to race at one of my favorite tracks.”

Daly is back in a second Carlin entry. Earlier this year, the popular driver finished 11th for Carlin in the DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway on June 8. At Iowa, he will drive the team’s No. 23 Gallagher Chevrolet.

Daly finished 10th in the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge for Andretti Autosport.

Daly raced at Iowa in 2016 for Dale Coyne Racing (finishing 21st) and in 2017 for A.J. Foyt Racing (finishing 19th).

The combination gives Carlin two more drivers to gather additional feedback on the car. Max Chilton remains the team’s primary driver but announced recently that he will forego all oval races to concentrate on street and road courses.

That created opportunities for Karam and Daly.

“We were very impressed with Sage’s steady progression throughout the Toronto race weekend and his willingness to learn and adapt,” said Carlin Team Principal Trevor Carlin. “The fact that he hadn’t been on a street course since 2015 and was still able to come right out of the gate confident and constantly improving every session was extremely impressive.

“The SmartStop Self Storage Chevrolet looked great out on track and their group has been a pleasure to work with, so we couldn’t be more pleased to have them back this weekend in Iowa. Sage has done really well in Iowa in the past, so hopefully we can use his experience and our past success at Iowa Speedway to come away with a good result for the team and our partners at SmartStop Self Storage.”

The Iowa 300 at Iowa Speedway will take place on Saturday, July 20th at 7:15 pm ET and will be televised on NBCSN.