And then there were six.
That's how many races remain in the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup. The number of guys who legitimately have a chance at winning the title is beginning to dwindle. The power is starting to be consolidated at the top, while the rest are just fighting it out amongst themselves to see who can have the better finish.
With so few races left, having a poor performance here can be devastating. You've got less and less time to make up ground on the guys ahead of you.
Here's what the top 10 looks like after Sunday.
|8||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||2,129||-54|
These three drivers did more than anyone to hinder their place in the Chase.
Whatever chance Greg Biffle had of winning the title evaporated on Sunday. He finished 13th, and while he didn't lose a spot in the standings, he didn't help himself, either.
While it's not impossible he could finish on top at the end of the season, as a result of the Hollywood Casino 400, Biffle is now 44 points off Matt Kenseth. There's almost no way he'll be able to jump ahead of four other drivers and then Kenseth with just six races left.
Biffle seemed to concede on Twitter that it's only a three-horse race at this point in the season.
With virtually no shot at the title, the only thing left for Biffle is to try and get up to at least fourth. It would be an improvement on last year's fifth-place finish and add a little bit more to that check at the end of the season.
Coming into the race, Kyle Busch had been terrible at Kansas. According to DriverAverages.com, it was the fourth-worst track for him on the circuit.
In that respect, it was a vintage Busch performance. He failed to finish for the third-straight time.
On Lap 187, Busch made contact with Juan Pablo Montoya and spun out. After returning to the track, he was sent into the wall after crashing into Brian Vickers and Carl Edwards. That officially ended his day.
Busch didn't pull any punches after the race, via ESPN's Marty Smith.
I asked Kyle Busch if he felt like the Montoya spin was JPMs fault: "I don't spin out by myself on the front straightaway, do I?"— Marty Smith (@MartySmithESPN) October 6, 2013
Spoke to Kyle Busch and Joe Gibbs. Kyle was quite short and directly to the point. He hates KS and felt like others ran into him all day.— Marty Smith (@MartySmithESPN) October 6, 2013
That DNF pretty much took him out of the Chase altogether. There's almost no way he'll be able to make up that kind of ground with so little time left.
Clint Bowyer wasn't going to win the 2013 title. However, he was still in the Chase and had a chance on Sunday to make a nice account for himself and work his way up the standings.
Instead, with a 14th-place finish, he actually dropped a spot to No. 9 in the overall standings.
It's not as if there's nothing to race for anymore. Sure he can't win the title, but Bowyer has some money on the line. A higher finish in the standings will mean a higher payout at the end of the season. He's been such a consistent driver all season, it would be a shame to fade down the stretch.