March 23, 2013; Fontana, CA, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. (88) during the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Chase For The Sprint Cup Seed Projections (After Five Races)

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, 3 top 10s
2. Jimmie Johnson – 1 win, 2 top 5s, 3 top 10s
3. Kyle Busch – 1 win, three top 5s
4. Brad Keselowski – 4 top 5s, 4 top 10s
5. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – 3 top 5s, 5 top 10s
6. Matt Kenseth – 1 win, 1 top 5, 3 top 10s
7. Carl Edwards – 1 win, 3 top 5s, 3 top 10s
8. Greg Biffle – 2 top 10s
9. Joey Logano – 1 top 5, 1 top 10
10. Denny Hamlin – 1 top 5, 1 top 10
11. Clint Bowyer (Wild Card) – 1 top 5, 2 top 10s
12. Kurt Busch (Wild Card) – 2 top 5s, 2 top 10s

Only four drivers on this list had a good day at Auto Club Speedway on Sunday; Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Joey Logano and Kurt Busch.  The biggest question now lies with Denny Hamlin and the severity of his injury.  Should he miss one or two races, his chances of making the Chase are diminished.  Should he miss more, Hamlin almost certainly would have to rely on getting in via the wild card.  Given the competition that is vying for those two spots, it will be a tough road to go.

Just missing the cut: Paul Menard, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Jeff Gordon

Menard and Stenhouse continue to be consistent, particularly Menard who has finished in the top ten for three races in a row.  Harvick, McMurray and Gordon all had middle of the road finishes at Auto Club and need to start reeling off top 5 and top 10 finishes very soon.

Pretenders:  Aric Almirola, Martin Truex, Jr., Ryan Newman

Of these drivers, Ryan Newman has the most potential as he has three top 5 finishes thus far which have been anchored by two terrible finishes.  It appears as though Almirola has faded the past few weeks and it is likely he will continue to fall in the standings.  Martin Truex, Jr. has to be one of the most disappointing drivers thus far in 2013 as he has yet to show any kind of speed.

Cooking Gooses:  Tony Stewart, Jeff Burton

Stewart looked strong for a while this past Sunday but ended up having another mediocre finish.  Jeff Burton still seems to be in the same mode that he’s been in the past few seasons and unless things quickly improve he will miss The Chase.

Playing out the string:  Marcos Ambrose, Danica Patrick, Juan Pablo Montoya

Barring amazing and unforeseen circumstances, these three drivers will not make The Chase.  Ambrose’s best finish so far in 2013 is 18th while Montoya’s is 12th.  Patrick will likely be a contender at Talladega in a few weeks but otherwise it appears as though finishing in the top 20 for her on a weekly basis is unlikely.

Tags: Chase For The Sprint Cup NASCAR

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