Chase Continues To Heat On

Misan AkuyaCorrespondent IJuly 12, 2010

JOLIET, IL - JULY 10:  Clint Bowyer, driver of the #33 Cheerios / Hamburger Helper Chevrolet, climbs into the car during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LIFELOCK.COM 400 at the Chicagoland Speedway on July 10, 2010 in Joliet, Illinois.  (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jason Smith/Getty Images

Clint Bowyer grabbed his second top five 2010 by finishing fourth in saturday night's race at Chicagoland speedway.  Bowyer also led once for one lap.  More important Bowyer is back into the top 12 in points being 12th in points.  15 points over fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Greg Biffle may have only dropped one spot in the point standing to 11th with his 35th place finish saturday night, but he is now only 21 points to the good of 13th place in points Earnhardt Jr.

Mark Martin dropped a spot in points as well with his somewhat controversial 15th place finish. But gained two points and is only 37 points out of the chase.

Ryan Newman dropped a spot in points to 16th and lost 19 points with a 22nd place finish saturday night.  He is now 99 points out of 12th.

But the big gainers saturday night concerning points were David Reutimann and Jamie McMurray.

Reutimann led 52 laps on the way to win at Chicagoland.  His second of his career and first in cup that met the scheduled distance. 

Reutimann jumped two spots up to 15th in points and from being 173 points out of the chase to now just 96 points out.  Reutimann after Texas was 30th in points.  Now he stands a chance at missing the chase.

McMurray won the pole and 72 laps saturday and would settle for a 5th place finish.  While he would move just one spot in points to 18th, he went from being 225 points out of 12th to now 181 points out of 12th.

The Daytona 500 champion feels that they are a car that needs to be in the chase and it has been bad luck that has been keeping them out of the top 12 in points.  He has led the second most laps of a driver outside the top 12 with 244 only second to Kasey Kahne's 294.  This team has the speed to make the cut.

Speaking of Kahne he made some ground by finishing 6th saturday night.  Though he is now 120 points out of 12th he lost 1 spot in the points.  This team has been one of the fastest since the beginning of June with 4 top fives and five top tens in the last six races.

Think about what if hew hadn't lost an engine at Loudon where he led 110 laps (the most), certainly not 17th in points.

The farthest any driver has come back from to make the chase under seven races to go was in 2005 when Matt Kenseth with six races left came back from 213 points to make the chase.  This gives hope to Kahne, McMurray and Joey Logano who are 120, 181, and 183 points out of the chase.

Seven races can be a long time or a short time depending on how you look at things.  Either way time is running out if these guys want to be championship contenders.