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 while also recognizing race-to-race performance.
1. Jimmie Johnson – 3 wins, 7 top 5s, 9 top 10s
2. Matt Kenseth – 3 wins, 3 top 5s, 8 top 10s
3. Kyle Busch – 2 wins, 7 top 5s, 9 top 10s
4. Kasey Kahne – 1 win, 5 top 5s, 6 top 10s
5. Kevin Harvick – 2 wins, 4 top 5s, 7 top 10s
6. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – 4 top 5s, 9 top 10s
7. Clint Bowyer – 4 top 5s, 8 top 10s
8. Carl Edwards – 1 win, 5 top 5s, 8 top 10s
9. Greg Biffle – 1 win, 3 top 5s, 6 top 10s
10. Brad Keselowski – 5 top 5s, 8 top 10s
11. Tony Stewart (Wild Card) – 1 win, 3 top 5s, 5 top 10s
12. Jeff Gordon (Wild Card) – 3 top 5s, 4 top 10s
There was little change in the seed projections this week in the upper portion due to the fact that several drivers had issues that were completely out of their control, namely the Hendrick Motorsports drivers. Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. were all serious contenders for the win at Michigan on Sunday but each driver was knocked out of the race while running up front. Johnson and Kahne suffered cut tires while Earnhardt’s engine blew when it appeared his car was the best on the track.
Greg Biffle and his team have made a big resurgence in the past two races with a second at Dover and a victory at Michigan. Carl Edwards showed signs of being fast this past weekend too as he notched a top 10 finish. Brad Keselowski’s average finish the past seven weeks is a paltry 21.3 though he did have a top five at Dover. While 12th at Michigan wasn’t a bad result, with Biffle and Tony Stewart recovering and starting to notch top fives and wins, Keselowski and his team need to pick up the pace.
Drivers with a legit chance of making the Chase: Martin Truex, Jr., Joey Logano, Ryan Newman, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Kurt Busch, Jamie McMurray, Denny Hamlin
With only nine races left until the cutoff for the Chase, these seven drivers are the ones who have the most legitimate shot of getting in. That’s no disrespect to drivers like Paul Menard and Aric Almirola both of whom have had great seasons thus far. The difference between them and those listed is that Menard and Almirola have not shown the ability to run up front, lead laps and score top five finishes. The fact is any of these drivers could easily get a win or two in the next nine weeks. Even if they don’t win, they have the potential to make up enough points to sneak into the top ten outside of Denny Hamlin.
Speaking of Hamlin, he had a terrible run at Michigan which dropped him further behind 20th in the standings. Since returning at Talladega, it’s been either feast for famine for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver with Hamlin scoring an average finish of 18.7. The point margin between he and 20th place, Kurt Busch is 76 markers. Even if he scores a couple victories in the next nine races, it will still be tough to get into the top 20 when the drivers who are already there finish well almost every week.