As many as four drivers — or as few as one — can clinch Chase berths at Watkins Glen on Sunday

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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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Malcolm Stewart sidelined by knee surgery for ‘extended duration’

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The knee injury that kept Malcolm Stewart from mounting up for Anaheim 2 will require surgery and he will be sidelined for “an extended duration” of the Monster Energy Supercross season, according to the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team.

“I just wanted to give you guys an update,” Stewart said on Instagram. “It’s not the news you guys want to hear, but I took a spill last week and hurt my knee pretty bad to the point that we’re going to have to get surgery done.

“I’m definitely bummed out about it; I felt we were riding pretty good and were just now starting to get the ball rolling, but it is what it is.”

Stewart’s season started with high expectations until accidents in the first two rounds left him 15th in the standings.

He ended 2022 on a high note, finishing a career high third in the Supercross standings. He then missed the start of the Pro Motocross season with another knee injury.

The 2023 season appeared to live up to his expectations. Despite back-to-back accidents, Stewart contended for podiums at both Anaheim 1 and San Diego. He won his heat at San Diego.

“It was very tough to receive the news that Malcolm will need to undergo knee surgery,” Nathan Ramsey, Team Manager for the Husqvarna team said in a press release. “He has worked so hard to be in a position to win races this year and I truly believe he was ready.

“The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing program will support him in every way that we can through his recovery and we can’t wait to get him back on track and back at the races.”

Stewart joins 250 rider Jalek Swoll on the sidelines after he broke an arm in a practice session. Swoll will be relieved by Talon Hawkins beginning this week at Houston, Texas.

A replacement rider has not been announced for Stewart, which means the focus shifts to his 450 teammate Christian Craig, who currently sits 12th in the standings with three top-15s in the opening rounds.