Sev­eral NASCAR play­off spots still open

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - DAVID SCOTT

It’s get­ting close to the Chase.

Five races re­main un­til Rich­mond — the fi­nal race in the reg­u­lar sea­son. Through 26 races, five drivers — Brad Ke­selowski, Kyle Busch, Carl Ed­wards, Jim­mie John­son and Matt Kenseth — have clinched spots in the 16-driver post-sea­son. They have mul­ti­ple wins and are guar­an­teed to fin­ish in the top 30 in the points stand­ings (as long as they start the re­main­ing races in the reg­u­lar sea­son).

That num­ber could change at Po­cono (Pa.) Raceway on Sun­day. If any of five other drivers who have one vic­tory and are as­sured spots in the top 30 — Kevin Har­vick, Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr. or Denny Ham­lin — can break through for a sec­ond win, that driver would also clinch a spot in the post-sea­son.

Re­mem­ber, there’s still the math­e­mat­i­cal pos­si­bil­ity that there can be more than 16 dif­fer­ent win­ners or even a points leader with no vic­to­ries who, ac­cord­ing to the rule book, would earn a spot in the Chase.

Then there’s Tony Stewart, who has his one vic­tory, but at 27th in the stand­ings hasn’t clinched a spot inside the top 30.

Five win­less Chase hope­fuls — rookie Chase El­liott, Austin Dil­lon, Ryan New­man, Jamie Mc­Mur­ray and Kyle Lar­son — are hang­ing on to spots 11-15 (Stewart has the other berth).

Lar­son was the big­gest mover of the week, mov­ing into the 15th spot from No. 19. with his fifth-place fin­ish at In­di­anapo­lis. Here’s where the five drivers who can clinch this weekend stand:

Har­vick (one vic­tory, 671 points, 434 points ahead of 31st).

Kurt Busch (one vic­tory, 627 points, 390 points ahead of 31st).

Logano (one vic­tory, 606 points, 369 points ahead 31st).

Truex (one vic­tory, 573 points, 336 points ahead of 31st).

Ham­lin (one vic­tory, 542 Points, 305 points ahead of 31st).

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