Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson have begun to separate themselves from the pack.
The Sprint Cup Series Chase for the Championship has completed four of its 10 events. Matt Kenseth currently leads the standings by just three points over five-time series champion Jimmie Johnson.
Behind the top two, no other driver is closer than 25 points, and it will take some very good finishes by the rest of the competitors if they plan to unseat the two front-runners.
Clearly, Kenseth and Johnson have separated themselves from the pack to the point where they are the outright favorites to win the title. But what about the rest of the contenders? Do any of the other drivers still have a chance at winning the 2013 championship, or is it a two-man race?
In the slides ahead, we will take a look at all 13 drivers in the Chase and reveal the updated odds on their chance to end the season as the champion.
Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman are too far out to be considered serious contenders.
Odds to Win the Championship: 100-1
Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman sit 83 and 73 points, respectively, out of the lead in the championship standings. In both cases, the amount of points to overcome is well over what can be accumulated in just one race.
With six races remaining in the championship, these two drivers are too far behind, and there are too many people they would need to pass in the standings to have any sort of chance at winning the championship this season.
In eight combined starts in the 2013 Chase, Kahne and Newman have posted just two top-10 finishes (Newman has both of them), and neither driver has posted a finish better than eighth.
The mountain is far too high for either of these drivers to climb this season. 100-1 odds may even be a generous number.
Clint Bowyer and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are among a group that is also too far out to win the title.
Odds to Win the Championship: 75-1
The situation for Carl Edwards, Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer and Dale Earnhardt Jr. is similar to that of Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman.
All four drivers are more than one race's worth of points out of first place. They are all between 54 and 60 points out of the lead and would need far too many things to go right for any of them to have a realistic chance.
The only way for any of these four drivers to get back into title contention would be to earn maximum points at Charlotte and then use that momentum to get on a hot streak.
It is a long shot, but it's not impossible.
Anything but a win in Charlotte for these title contenders and their 2013 championship hopes will be eliminated.
Kurt Busch needs to score a win to have a chance at the championship.
Odds to Win the Championship: 50-1
With a second-place finish in Kansas, Kurt Busch gave new life to his title hopes. Currently, he sits 47 points behind Matt Kenseth.
While extremely unlikely, it is mathematically possible for Busch to leave Charlotte in a tie for first. Granted, he would have to earn maximum points and Kenseth would need to finish in last place, along with a host of other near-impossible scenarios.
The fortunate thing for Busch is that he does not need to gain all of the points back in just one week. He still has six weeks left, but he needs to continue to post top-five finishes to have any chance.
His odds of winning would be slightly better if there were not as many people in front of him in the standings. Sitting seventh in the standings, Busch not only has to worry about posting good finishes, but he also needs the six other drivers to post a handful of mediocre finishes.
Busch and his team are clearly the Cinderella stories of the 2013 season, but for it to conclude with a fairy-tale ending, he is going to need a little bit of luck on his side.
Greg Biffle enters Charlotte in sixth place in the standings.
Odds to Win the Championship: 50-1
Greg Biffle enters Charlotte in sixth place in the standings, 44 points out of the lead. The Chase has gone much the same way the regular season went for the driver of the No. 16 Ford. He's posted decent but not spectacular finishes.
His four Chase finishes of 16th, third, ninth and 13th are good enough to keep his championship hopes alive, but he's still in need of a spark.
Charlotte will be a make-or-break race for Biffle's championship hopes.
His results at NASCAR's home track are mixed over the course of his career. He has never won in Charlotte and has posted just eight top-10 finishes in 21 starts. On the flip side, he has also finished worse than 25th just six times.
If Biffle is going to remain a title contender, he has to post a top-10 finish at the absolute least. Anything worse than that and Biffle will join a long list of drivers whose championship chances are already finished.
Kyle Busch has to avoid another finish like the one he posted in Kansas, if he has any chance at winning the title.
Odds to Win the Championship: 15-1
After opening the Chase with three consecutive top-five finishes, it all came apart for Kyle Busch at Kansas. He was involved in a hard crash that ended his day early and left him with a 34th-place finish.
The disastrous weekend saw Busch drop from third to fifth in the standings, and he went from 12 points behind the leader to 35 points out.
One bad race is not enough to eliminate him from championship contention. He is capable of winning on any track, and should he score a win in Charlotte, he'll be right back in the mix of the title hunt.
Charlotte is the ultimate boom-or-bust track for Busch. In 19 starts at the mile-and-a-half oval, he has posted 11 top-10 finishes. His other eight finishes, however, were all outside the top 25.
While a win in Charlotte is not a necessity for Busch to remain in championship contention, a good finish is required.
He cannot afford a second consecutive finish like the one he posted in Kansas. Any sort of mishap will once again leave Busch without a Sprint Cup Series championship.
Jeff Gordon currently sits fourth in the championship standings.
Odds to Win the Championship: 12-1
Jeff Gordon has quietly been keeping his championship hopes alive through the first four Chase races. After making it into the playoff field thanks to the NASCAR sanctioning body ruling in his favor, he has posted three finishes of sixth or better and currently sits fourth in the standings.
Gordon is only 32 points behind championship leader Matt Kenseth as the field prepares for Saturday night's race in Charlotte.
In 41 starts at NASCAR's home track, Gordon is a five-time winner. He has posted 21 top-10 finishes but has struggled in recent trips to the facility. In the last six visits to Charlotte Motor Speedway, he has only finished better than 18th one time.
It is crucial that he post a solid finish on Saturday night if he wants to keep his hopes for a fifth series championship alive.
Considering it appeared that Gordon would not have the chance to race for a championship following the Richmond event, he has certainly made the best of his opportunity to do just that. He is a win or two away from really taking full advantage.
Kevin Harvick is the Sprint Cup Series' most recent winner.
Odds to Win the Championship: 10-1
Going into last Sunday's race at Kansas, Kevin Harvick had led a total of 53 laps on the season, less than any other Chase driver. He then went on to dominate in Kansas, leading 138 laps en route to his third win of the year.
With the victory, Harvick cemented himself as one of the top contenders in the championship hunt. The win moved him from a tie for fourth in the standings, 39 points out of the lead, into third place, just 25 markers out of the top spot.
If there is such a thing as momentum, the win in Kansas certainly gives it to Harvick. It comes at a great time too. The series now prepares for its next race in Charlotte, a track where Harvick was victorious earlier in the season.
While he cannot control what happens to the top two drivers currently in the standings, Harvick can certainly continue to keep himself in the hunt by posting solid finishes and having performances like the one he turned in in Kansas.
Matt Kenseth is the current championship leader.
Odds to Win the Championship: 3-1
Matt Kenseth is the current points leader, but even that is not enough to make him the favorite at this point.
Kenseth leads the Sprint Cup Series with seven wins in 2013, including the first two events of the Chase. Even after all of that, though, he leads the standings by a mere three points.
In his career, Kenseth has at least one win at five of the remaining six tracks that the series will travel to. Martinsville is the only remaining track where he has yet to find Victory Lane.
If recent history is any indication of how the rest of the season will play out, Kenseth's championship hopes could be in trouble.
Thus far in 2013, the Sprint Cup Series has raced at five of the remaining six tracks on the schedule (it has not made a trip to Homestead-Miami). In those five starts, Kenseth has posted only two top-10 finishes, and neither of those ended inside the top five.
While he has already posted a career high in wins for one season, it may still take at least one more before Kenseth becomes the favorite.
Jimmie Johnson is just three points out of the lead.
Odds to Win the Championship 2-1
Though he is not the current points leader, Jimmie Johnson is still the favorite to win the 2013 championship and become a six-time NASCAR champion.
Johnson spent most of the season at the top of standings. He was the points leader for the first three weeks of the season before dropping to third for two weeks. Following the sixth race of the year—a Johnson win in Martinsville—he regained the points lead and held it until the playoffs started following the 26th race of the year.
At no point in the season has he been worse than third in the standings.
In total, Johnson has won 22 times at the remaining tracks on the Sprint Cup schedule, including a win earlier this year at Martinsville. Already this year, he has finished sixth or better at four of the remaining tracks.
With his past success in the Chase, as well as the success he's had at the remaining tracks on the schedule, Johnson is clearly the odds-on favorite to win another Sprint Cup Series title.