With his win of the Kobalt 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Brad Keselowski joined Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. and winner at Phoenix International Raceway a week earlier, Kevin Harvick, as drivers who are all but guaranteed spots in the 16-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup championship postseason.
“Locked in the Chase early, so I don’t have to hear that crap all year about not making the Chase,” Keselowski said in victory lane following his Vegas win.
After winning the 2012 Sprint Cup title, Keselowski failed to make the Chase in 2013.
While race-winning drivers are sure to get in based on their trip(s) to victory lane in the first 26 races, there’s sure to be at least a few drivers who get into the newly-expanded Chase based on their position in the points standings. Here is how the top-10 looks heading into Sunday’s race at Bristol (Ten.) Motor Speedway:
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr., leader
2. Brad Keselowski, -1
3. Jimmie Johnson, -16
4. Joey Logano, -17
5. Jeff Gordon, -18
6. Carl Edwards, -28
6. Matt Kenseth, -28
8. Denny Hamlin, -32
9. Ryan Newman, -36
10. Kyle Busch, -38
NOTE — Kevin Harvick enters the Bristol race 14th in points, due, at least in part, to a mechanical issue that ended his day early at Las Vegas. But, again, with his win at Phoenix, Harvick is all-but-assured a spot in the Chase, regardless how the points work out, that is, as long as he remains in the top-30.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR