Countdown to the Chase: four to go

Only four races remain for drivers to claim those 12 coveted spots in the 2012 Chase for the Sprint Cup. Some drivers are all but a lock, but there are several notable drivers hanging by a thread, on the verge of possibly not even making the Chase.

The top-four drivers in points heading into Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn — Jimmie Johnson, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. — are so safe that they stand of shot of officially locking themselves into the Chase this weekend. And then there are several others who are comfortable enough, as far as the points standings go, to feel pretty safe. Actually, barring some catastrophic #fail, the drivers in the top-10 are all fairly safe.

It’s those drivers vying for those two precious wild card spots who need to worry. As they run, or I guess I should say, as they head into the weekend, Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman are in posession of the provisional wild cards — Kahne with a couple of wins and Newman with one, but highest in points of those with one.

Newman is one of five drivers between 11th and 20th in points with a single win, with the others being Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Marcos Ambrose and Joey Logano. If none of those five drivers win in the next four races, the first wild card will go to Kahne and the second to whichever of the five is highest in points. But a second win by one of them and they’ll jump to the head of the line, or at least second behind Kahne.

“I don’t put pressure on myself,” Newman said. “Maybe other people try to put pressure on me, but I don’t let them,” Newman said.

And those aren’t the only drivers looking for wins to get in. Also throw Carl Edwards into the mix. Edwards in uncharacteristically winless so far this year. He is, however, 12th in points. A single win and the ability to remain 12th in points — or even move past Kahne in 11th — would put him in front of the one-win line to the second wild card spot.

“I remember we ended a long losing streak at Michigan in 2007,” an optimistic Edwards said.

Sometimes past performance and statistics don’t correctly predict race outcomes. But often, they are pretty good gauges. Here’s a look at how some of these wild card hopefuls traditionally perform at Michigan.

Carl Edwards: 2 wins, nine top-fives, 12 top-10s

Ryan Newman: two wins, five top-fives, five top-10s

Kyle Busch: one win, three top-fives, five top-10s

Jeff Gordon: two wins, 18 top-fives, 25 top-10s

Marcos Ambrose: one top-10s

Joey Logano: three top-10s


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Tags: Carl Edwards Chase For The Sprint Cup Joey Logano Kasey Kahne Kyle Busch Michigan International Speedway NASCAR Ryan Newman

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