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, 10 top 10s
2. Matt Kenseth – 3 wins, 3 top 5s, 8 top 10s
3. Kasey Kahne – 1 win, 5 top 5s, 7 top 10s
4. Kyle Busch – 2 wins, 7 top 5s, 9 top 10s
5. Kevin Harvick – 3 wins, 4 top 5s, 8 top 10s
6. Clint Bowyer – 5 top 5s, 9 top 10s
7. Carl Edwards – 1 win, 6 top 5s, 9 top 10s
8. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – 4 top 5s, 9 top 10s
9. Martin Truex, Jr. – 1 win, 4 top 5s, 7 top 10s
10. Greg Biffle – 1 win, 3 top 5s, 7 top 10s
11. Tony Stewart (Wild Card) – 1 win, 3 top 5s, 5 top 10s
12. Brad Keselowski (Wild Card) – 5 top 5s, 8 top 10s
The top two in the seed projections didn’t change but Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch did thanks to Kahne’s good run and Busch’s bad run at Sonoma. Kahne finished sixth while Busch finished 35th. Kahne isn’t in the top 10 in points but barring some terrible luck in the next 10 races, he should be able to race his way back in.
Martin Truex, Jr.’s win vaults him into the top 10 while Brad Keselowski falls out. In the past eight races, Keselowski had dropped from third in the standings to ninth while Truex had fought hard and hung tough moving up to 10th in points.
Drivers with a legit chance of making the Chase: Jeff Gordon, Joey Logano, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.
Jeff Gordon, Joey Logano, Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman all had good runs on Sunday rookie driver, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. struggled in his first visit to the Sonoma road course. Busch, Newman and Stenhouse still have a lot of ground to make up in the next 10 races and even though Logano is closer than those drivers, he has to continue reeling off good, consistent finishes. Based on how things have played out thus far, it seems the battle for the final spot in the Chase will come down between Truex, Keselowski and Gordon.
Eliminated: Jamie McMurray, Denny Hamlin
Of these two drivers, Jamie McMurray showed the most strength at Sonoma starting from the pole and leading two laps. However, a cut tire ruined his effort and it seems as though he has too much ground to make up compared to his competition.
Denny Hamlin’s goose has been officially cooked after this weekend’s race. Hamlin is now 83 points behind 20th place Jeff Burton while he still has an outside shot of reaching the top 20 before the cutoff race at Richmond, his finishes since coming back from injury say that he won’t be able to make up enough points to do so.