It's go time to get into Chase

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is approaching its deadline to claim spots in the 2012 Chase for the Sprint Cup, set to get underway next weekend at Chicagoland Speedway. With Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond (Va.) International Speedway looming, 10 drivers — the drivers currently in the top-10 of the championship points standings — already have their Chase spots guaranteed. They are as follows: Greg Biffle, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart.

While Stewart is locked into the Chase, he’s not locked into the top-10. But with three trips to victory lane, Stewart is at least guaranteed one of the two wild card slots, should he drop out of the top-10 on Sunday night. But there is incentive to be in the top-10 in points come the checkered flag at Richmond. If he remains in the top-10, he’ll start the Chase with nine bonus points, three for each win. If he has to resort to getting in with a wild card, he won’t receive those bonus points.

Here are the scenarios necessary each of eight other drivers to garner a spot in the chase, courtesy of NASCAR:

Kasey Kahne is the only driver outside the top 10 with two wins. He has yet to clinch a Chase spot.

“Kahne currently sits in the No. 1 Wild Card spot. A win would clinch a Chase berth. If Stewart stays in the top 10, Kahne clinches a Chase spot. If Stewart falls out of the top 10, Kahne will clinch a spot if a one-win driver outside the top 10 does not win. If Kyle Busch supplants Stewart in the top 10, and Jeff Gordon wins, Kahne clinches a spot by finishing 13th or better, 14th with at least one lap led or 15th with the most laps led.

“There are six drivers outside the top 10 with one win: Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Marcos Ambrose, Ryan Newman and Joey Logano.

“If one of those one-win drivers wins at Richmond AND Stewart remains in the top 10 (or Kasey Kahne supplants Stewart in the top 10), that one-win driver would have two wins, and clinch a Chase spot.

“The following scenarios are if a one-win driver DOES NOT win at Richmond…

Kyle Busch: If Stewart remains in the top 10 or if Kahne supplants Stewart in the top 10, Busch will clinch a Chase spot by losing 12 or fewer points to Jeff Gordon AND by losing 40 or fewer points to Marcos Ambrose. A win would guarantee Busch a Chase berth.

Jeff Gordon: If Stewart remains in the top 10 or if Kahne supplants Stewart in the top 10, Gordon will clinch by finishing 13 points ahead of Buschat Richmond AND by losing 28 or fewer points to Ambrose AND by losing 37 or fewer points to Ryan Newman. If Busch supplants Stewart in the top 10, Gordon would clinch a Chase berth with a win AND finishing 18 points ahead of Kahne at Richmond.

Marcos Ambrose: If Stewart remains in the top 10 or if Kahne supplants Stewart in the top 10, Ambrose will clinch by finishing 41 points ahead of Busch AND 29 points ahead of Gordon.

Ryan Newman: Newman can only clinch a Chase berth with a win. If either Busch or Gordon supplant Stewart in the top 10, Newman will be eliminated.

Joey Logano: Logano can only clinch a Chase berth with a win. If either Busch or Gordon supplant Stewart in the top 10, Logano will be eliminated.

“Two winless drivers outside the top 10 can clinch: Carl Edwards and Paul Menard.

Carl Edwards: Edwards needs to win (47-point win) AND Busch has to finish 24th or worse (with no laps led) at Richmond AND Gordon has to finish 12th or worse at Richmond. If Busch or Gordon supplant Tony Stewart in the top 10, Edwards will be eliminated.

Paul Menard: Menard needs to win (47-point win) AND Kyle Busch has to finish 34th or worse (with no laps led) AND Gordon has to finish 22nd or worst (with no laps led) at Richmond. If Busch or Gordon supplant Tony Stewart in the top 10, Menard will be eliminated.”

Tags: Chase For The Sprint Cup Kasey Kahne NASCAR Tony Stewart

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