The following is a projected seeding for the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup. Seeding is based upon a driver’s performance thus far in the season as well as the projected performance of a driver based on their history. This is similar to most power rankings but focuses on the seeding for the Chase rather than race-to-race performance.
1. Kasey Kahne – 1 win, 2 top 5s, 2 top 10s
2. Matt Kenseth – 1 win, 1 top 5, 2 top 10s
3. Jimmie Johnson – 1 win, 2 top 5s, 3 top 10s
4. Brad Keselowski – 4 top 5s, 4 top 10s
5. Carl Edwards – 1 win, 2 top 5s, 2 top 10s
6. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – 2 top 5s, 4 top 10s
7. Kyle Busch – 2 top 5s, 2 top 10s
8. Denny Hamlin – 1 top 5, 1 top 10
9. Clint Bowyer – 1 top 5, 2 top 10s
10. Greg Biffle – 1 top 10
11. Joey Logano (Wild Card)
12. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Wild Card)
Kasey Kahne makes a huge leap thanks to his performances in the past two races. Matt Kenseth had a bad day at Bristol but he was a contender for victory before he was caught up in Jeff Gordon’s misfortune. It’s only a matter of time before Brad Keselowski gets to victory lane in 2013, while Carl Edwards win at Phoenix might play a bigger role as to whether or not he’ll make the Chase.
Earnhardt, Busch, Hamlin and Bowyer appear to be fairly solid in their positions although Busch cannot keep making pit road speeding penalties and Hamlin needs to avoid having bad luck and finishes outside the top 20. Biffle, Logano and Stenhouse are on much thinner ice as all three drivers have relied on consistency thus far this season but will most definitely need to improve to have a better chance of making the Chase.
Just missing the cut: Paul Menard, Jamie McMurray, Marcos Ambrose, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex, Jr.
Speaking of consistency, Paul Menard has been very consistent thus far in 2013 but will have to start running and finishing in the top five to hope to get in Chase contention. McMurray and Ambrose have been able to avoid terrible finishes but unless their performance picks up, they will have a hard time hold off others like Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex, Jr. who have the potential to win on any given week.
Pretenders: Aric Almirola, Casey Mears, Jeff Burton, Juan Pablo Montoya, Danica Patrick
Aric Almirola’s good run for the start of the year came to a sudden halt at Bristol. This weekend’s race will be a big test for he and his team to see if they can recover and continue getting good finishes. I don’t see Jeff Burton or Juan Pablo Montoya being able to mount a serious challenge to make the Chase while it appears as though Danica Patrick’s 2013 will be a long and rough rookie run.
Cooking Gooses: Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman, Tony Stewart
Of these three drivers, Newman had the best finish at Bristol with a seventh place effort. Gordon and Stewart found themselves the victim of flat tires which ruined their day. Gordon showed promise but his bad string of luck has him in a big hole while Stewart has yet to show any strength thus far into the season.
The Underdogs: Casey Mears, J.J. Yeley, Dave Blaney, Phoenix Racing
Casey Mears has done a fantastic job thus far in 2013 but it’s really only a matter of time before the more funded teams who find themselves behind in points will be able to catch and pass him. The Tommy Baldwin Racing team of J.J. Yeley and Dave Blaney continue to run decent and look to be more competitive than they were in 2012. Phoenix Racing has had three different drivers in the first four races yet they find themselves eighth in the owner’s standings. Regan Smith, A.J. Allmendinger and Austin Dillion have done a good job getting solid finishes for the underfunded team.