Jun 30, 2013; Sparta, KY, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. (88) and Carl Edwards (99) and Kyle Busch (18) and Jimmie Johnson (48) during the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Chase For The Sprint Cup Seed Projections (After 17 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 while also recognizing race-to-race performance.

1. Jimmie Johnson – 3 wins, 7 top 5s, 11 top 10s
2. Matt Kenseth – 4 wins, 4 top 5s, 9 top 10s
3. Kyle Busch – 2 wins, 8 top 5s, 10 top 10s
4. Kevin Harvick – 2 wins, 4 top 5s, 9 top 10s
5. Kasey Kahne – 1 win, 5 top 5s, 7 top 10s
6. Clint Bowyer – 6 top 5s, 10 top 10s
7. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – 4 top 5s, 9 top 10s
8. Carl Edwards – 1 win, 6 top 5s, 9 top 10s
9. Martin Truex, Jr. – 1 win, 4 top 5s, 8 top 10s
10. Jeff Gordon – 4 top 5s, 6 top 10s
11. Greg Biffle (Wild Card) – 1 win, 3 top 5s, 7 top 10s
12. Tony Stewart (Wild Card) – 1 win, 3 top 5s, 5 top 10s

In spite of his late race spin and Matt Kenseth’s out-of-nowhere victory, Jimmie Johnson maintains the top spot in the seed projections based on his dominant performance at Kentucky as well as the consistency he has displayed all season long. Kasey Kahne falls to fifth thanks to bad luck but he is plenty capable of shooting to the number one seed in the next few weeks.

Speaking of bad luck, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had a strong car until running over Denny Hamlin‘s tire carcass early in Sunday’s race. Despite the fact that the resulting damage wiped away any chance of winning, Earnhardt and his crew persevered to finish 12th which not only was a testament to their work in repairing the 88 machine but a testament to how fast the car was.

Greg Biffle slips into the first wild card position due to getting involved in the early wreck with Brad Keselowski and others while Jeff Gordon moves back to the 10th seed after overcoming several cases of bad luck at Kentucky on Sunday. The question for Gordon isn’t so much if he can make the Chase, it’s whether or not Lady Luck will smile upon him in the next nine races.

Chase outsiders: Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Jamie McMurray

Joey Logano has really caught fire the last six races averaging a 7.7 finish. His teammate, Brad Keselowski continues to run into misfortune as he was the victim of a mistake by Kurt Busch in Sunday’s Quaker State 400. The wreck drop kicked Keselowski out of the top 10 in points from 9th to 13th. Busch on the other hand was able to score a sorely needed sixth place effort which helped him close the gap in points.

Last week it seemed as though Jamie McMurray’s chances of getting into this year’s Chase had evaporated. However like Logano and Busch, McMurray had a great day in Kentucky finishing second to Matt Kenseth for his first top five finish of the year. The candle isn’t extinguished for his hopes yet but McMurray needs to continue these good runs to overtake those who lie ahead of him in points.

Tags: Chase For The Sprint Cup NASCAR

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