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. Jimmie Johnson – Two wins, three top 5s, four top 10s
2. Kyle Busch – One win, four top 5s, four top 10s
3. Kasey Kahne – One win, four top 5s, four top 10s
4. Brad Keselowski – Four top 5s, five top 10s
5. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – Three top 5s, five top 10s
6. Matt Kenseth – One win, one top 5, three top 10s
7. Clint Bowyer – Two top 5s, three top 10s
8. Jeff Gordon – One top 5, two top 10s
9. Greg Biffle – Three top 10s
10. Carl Edwards – One win, three top 5s, three top 10s
11. Joey Logano (Wild Card) – One top 5, one top 10
12. Kevin Harvick (Wild Card) – One top 10
Kasey Kahne falls from first to third, merely because Johnson and Kyle Busch appear to be slightly better at this point. The rest of the top six stayed intact while Clint Bowyer was able to boost himself to seventh in the rankings thanks to a solid run at Martinsville. With Denny Hamlin out for the next several weeks, it opened up a spot in the seeding. Jeff Gordon’s great day on Sunday boosted him from out of the rankings all the way to eighth in the predictions.
Just missing the cut: Paul Menard, Jamie McMurray, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Aric Almirola, Casey Mears, Kurt Busch
Menard continues his fantastic run so far. He needs to start running in the top five before I feel he could really make the Chase field. McMurray has shown surprising speed the past few races but his recent past of inconsistency leaves him out of making the Chase, at least for now. Stenhouse and Almirola continue to get solid finishes in the top 20 but have to make the leap of finishing in the top 10 to be a threat to make the Chase field. What can be said about Casey Mears and his team? They are doing an amazing job every single week. Kurt Busch’s day at Martinsville was bad and he will have to avoid having more of those to have a chance at the Chase.
Pick up the pace: Marcos Ambrose, Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, Jeff Burton, Martin Truex Jr.
All of these drivers need to gain ground in the points. Stewart, Newman and Truex are the most capable of this group to reel off good finishes and wins potentially but it will be difficult considering the competition that stands between them and the final few spots in the Chase.
Playing out the string: Danica Patrick, Bobby Labonte, Juan Pablo Montoya
These three teams are highly unlikely to make the Chase and are looking to just have good finishes and improve every week. Danica Patrick really impressed a lot of folks by finishing 12th at Martinsville in her first race there. The good finish was desperately needed as both driver and team struggled the previous weeks. Montoya had a bad day at Martinsville cutting a tire twice and ending the race with a disappointing 26th place.