Denny Hamlin has had an incredible year so far in 2010.
He’s garnered five wins, which ties him with Johnson and makes him a legitimate favorite to dethrone the four-time champ.
However, a recent lull in performance has hurt the No. 11 FedEx team and has shown that they have a couple of chinks in the armor.
Still, with a 271 point cushion on 13th, he’s in no real danger of falling out of the Chase.
His numbers at Indianapolis are rather pedestrian, with two top 10s in four starts and a 17.2 average finish.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford, has proven that last year’s performance was no fluke.
With two wins this season, Busch currently sits one spot behind where he finished last season, fifth in points.
Barring some sort of meltdown, he’s going to make a repeat appearance in the Chase—he has a 253 point cushion on 13th place.
While not the headline maker that his younger brother has been, Busch has been solid at many different tracks the series has run at. He has earned 11 top 10 finishes, which ties him for second in the series.
However, the older Busch hasn’t had much luck in the past at Indianapolis, where’s he only finished in the top five once. He hasn’t finished better than 10th since 2004.
From older brother to the younger, Kyle Busch has also had a strong season in the Cup Series.
While he’s never a big fan of being anything other than first, Busch has to be at least somewhat happy with where he currently sits. Last season, he was fighting for his Chase life at this point, a fight which he ended up losing.
Busch, who like his older brother has won twice on the circuit, is one of those drivers who could be a threat to win any given weekend.
Like teammate Hamlin, however, he is currently in a slump. In the last five races, he has zero finishes inside the top 10.
Indy, however, could be a turning point for Busch and a place to start building back some momentum before the Chase begins. He has three top 10 finishes in five starts and ranks eighth among current full-time drivers in average finish with a 14.8 at IMS.
The final driver who currently looks to have clear sailing into the Chase is Jeff Burton.
Burton has had a season much like Jeff Gordon: close to winning many times, yet never being able to pull it out.
Burton, like his teammate Harvick, has been an integral part of Richard Childress Racing’s resurgence. He has nine top 10 finishes this season and, in the last six races, has finished worse than 12th only once.
Like Gordon, expect Burton to break through into winner’s circle before the season is over.
Burton’s numbers at Indianapolis are rather pedestrian, with only four top 10 finishes in sixteen starts. But two of those top 10s have come in the last three years.