NASCAR Chase for the Cup 2012: Drivers Who Need Huge Nights to Earn Chase Berth

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 8, 2012

RICHMOND, VA - SEPTEMBER 07:  Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, stands by his car during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 7, 2012 in Richmond, Virginia.  (Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)
Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images

Entering the final regular-season race of the NASCAR season, we sit with 10 spots in the Chase already cemented. That leaves the two wild-card spots, currently occupied by Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch, still very much up for grabs.

Who’s still in contention, and what do they need to do at Richmond International Speedway to ensure that they have meaningful races left on their calendars?

Let’s take a look.


Marcos Ambrose

Sixteenth in the standings and 40 points behind Kyle Busch, Ambrose needs to finish 41 points ahead of Kyle Busch and 28 points ahead of Jeff Gordon in order to clinch a spot in the Chase.

Considering that he has not finished higher than 21st in any of his past three races at Richmond, Ambrose has his work cut out for him.


Carl Edwards

Edwards needs all sorts of help to work his way back into the Chase, but it all starts with him winning the race.

If he wins—something that he’s never done in 16 races at Richmond—he then needs Kyle Busch to never lead a lap and finish no better than 24th and he needs Jeff Gordon to finish no better than 12th.

If either Gordon or Busch overtakes Tony Stewart, Edwards is done.


Jeff Gordon

Currently in 13th place, Gordon trails Kyle Busch by only 12 points for the final wild-card spot and is 17 points behind Kasey Kahne for 11th place.

If Tony Stewart remains in the top 10 of the Cup standings or if Kasey Kahne moves ahead of Stewart, Gordon can clinch a spot by finishing 13 points ahead of Kyle Busch and losing 28 or less points to Marcos Ambrose. Under this scenario, he also needs to lose no more than 37 points to Ryan Newman.

Should Stewart be bounced from the top 10 by Kyle Busch, Gordon needs to win the race and finish 18 points ahead of Kasey Kahne.

With eight top-six finishes in his last 11 races, Gordon is hitting his stride at the right time.


Joey Logano

In 18th place, 82 points behind Kyle Busch, Logano needs a win to sneak into the Chase. His best career finish at Richmond came in the Air Guard 400 in 2010 when he finished fourth.


Ryan Newman

Currently 17th in the standings, Newman can only get into the Chase with a win at Richmond, something he has not done since 2003 when he took home the checkered flag in The Chevy Rock & Roll 400.