NASCAR instituted the Chase several years ago to create excitement late in the championship fight.Â The Nationwide series runs the old fashioned way with a total point value added up after 33 races.Â 19 events through the 2013 schedule as we head into August, there is literally no favorite to win the championshipÂ â€“ any driver in the Top 10 is capable of being a champion.
Hereâ€™s a list of each one of those drivers and note that only 67 points separate first from tenth.
10. Parker Kligerman – The 22 year old has had a solid if at times inconsistent season.Â His best finish is a third but he drives for Kyle Busch and if they can get a handle on the consistency issue, Kligerman will be near or at the top.
9. Trevor Bayne – Another 22 year old, he has a win this year and been a front-runner for most of the season.Â However, itâ€™s been feast or famine for Bayne with good qualifying efforts and then either a very good or very bad finish.Â If the Roush Fenway driver can reduce the bad days, he should be in the running for a championship.
8. Brian Scott – A 25 year old, heâ€™s been able to stay in the title chase due to consistently solid finishes.Â He has only one finish outside the Top 20 and of recent, has two top fives over the past three races.Â If Scott can continue that trend, his Richard Childress owned car should be right in the thick of the battle.
7. Kyle Larson – Just turning 21, this phenom is a likely superstar of tomorrow.Â The first eight events of the year had Larsonâ€™s Turner Scott racecar outside the Top 10 in points, but since then he hasnâ€™t finished worse than 14th â€“ bringing him back into the title hunt.Â If he should improve his qualifying and continue his run of great finishes, heâ€™ll probably win a race or two and be in contention for the 2013 championship.
6. Justin Algaier – The 27 year old Turner Scott driver always seems to be battling for the Nationwide championship and this season is no different.Â He has only two finishes outside the top 15 but on average will need better points days to contend for the title.
5. Brian Vickers – The 29 year old veteran NASCAR driver was expected by some â€“ including yours truly â€“ to win the Nationwide championship in 2013 â€¦ and he just might. Â Vickers has finished in the top five a league-leading nine times and although the Joe Gibbs driver hasnâ€™t won this season, he does have a couple runner-ups.Â Brian has led over 100 laps this season and if he keeps that up, he should have a legitimate shot at being the Nationwide champ â€“ which would be his second after winning 10 years ago.
4. Sam Hornish Jr. – At 35 years of age, heâ€™s one of the older veteran drivers.Â At times this season, Hornish has been the car to beat but inconsistent finishes along with mistakes have cost the Roger Penske team.Â He has a win and always qualifies well, keeping in the front most races â€“ which has helped him lead the league in Top 10s and most laps led.Â If Sam can eliminate the bad finishes â€“ he has four 25th or worse â€“ he should be able to win the championship.
3. Elliott Sadler – The oldest driver in the Top 10 at 38, he has been one of the top drivers in Nationwide over the past two years.Â Sadler hasnâ€™t won in his Joe Gibbs prepared racecar but with only two finishes outside the Top 20 along with a couple of runner-ups, he’s been able to stay in contention.Â A win or two and he should be right there challenging for the championship.
2. Regan Smith – The 29 year old has two wins this year and coupled with consistent Top 10s, heâ€™s been able to stay at or near the front of the standings all year.Â A few hiccups a month or so ago has the Dale Earnhardt Jr. driver just six points out of first in the standings.Â If he can grab another win or two and keep away from bad finishes, Smith will be a champion in 2013.
1. Austin Dillon - The 23 year old 2011 Truck champion may be ready to win it all in Nationwide this season.Â The grandson of Richard Childress has become a pole king, registering a dominating six poles this year.Â Dillon is second amongst drivers leading laps this season, so you would think with all that speed, heâ€™d have a win â€“ but he doesnâ€™t.Â Still, if Austin maintains his frontrunner status, he will be tough to beat out â€¦ especially if he wins a few along the way.