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Chase Mysteries Will Be Solved At Richmond

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, September 7 2013

Hendrick Motorsports teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne will earn their fate on Saturday night. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Christa L Thomas)

RICHMOND, Va. – Ten drivers, five positions and multiple scenarios exist for those drivers vying for a position in this year’s Chase with each contender’s performance in Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway the critical element.

In fact, the possibilities are so convoluted they could be a basis for a routine reminiscent of Abbott and Costello’s famous “Who’s On First” skit.

“Jon Edwards [public relations representative] shared some of it with me because we thought it was comical,” four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon said. “It definitely put a smile on our face when we were starting to go through some of the scenarios. I think I stopped him about halfway through and said, ‘Stop. I really don’t want to know any more. It gets too confusing. It’s going to change when the green flag drops anyway.”

Four drivers control their top-10 clinching destiny regardless of any other driver’s performance. They are Dale Earnhardt Jr., Joey Logano, Greg Biffle and Kurt Busch.

Kasey Kahne has clinched at least a Wild Card position with his two victories.

Six other drivers remain mathematically eligible to clinch a top-10 position, but need help. They do, however, control their own Wild Card destiny via a victory. Those drivers are Gordon, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Newman, Brad Keselowski, Jamie McMurray and Paul Menard.

Gordon, who starts on the pole for the race on the three-quarter-mile track, enters the event 11th in the standings, just 10 points outside the top 10. He would clinch a Wild Card spot with a victory.

Truex Jr., 13th in points, also would receive a Wild Card spot with a victory. He enters the race 15 points outside the top 10 and could clinch a Wild Card spot without a win, provided Newman doesn’t pass him in the standings. Newman trails Truex Jr. by a mere five points.

Like Truex Jr., Newman would obtain a Wild Card position with a victory. However, if Newman expects to make it into the Chase without a win, Logano and Biffle must remain in the top 10 or be replaced by Kahne; out-point Truex Jr. by six; Gordon can’t win; and Keselowski and McMurray can’t win and overtake him.

Keselowski’s task is a little more daunting. He’s 28 points outside the top 10 and must win to be in contention for a Wild Card spot. Mathematically, there will be at least two drivers outside the top 10 with victories. To gain access to the Chase and defend his 2012 title, Keselowski needs to win and out-point Truex Jr. by 13 and Newman by eight. Of course, if Kahne moves a winless driver from the top 10, Keselowski would need to out-point only one driver, either Truex Jr. or Newman. If Truex Jr. or Newman displaces Busch from the top 10, Keselowski would need to out-point the other one-win driver remaining outside the top 10 by the required amount.

The scenarios faced by McMurray and Menard are similar to those confronting Keselowski.

So if you’re now totally confused about who’s competing for the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship just be thankful you’re not a crew chief for one of these teams. They probably haven’t slept for a week.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, September 7 2013
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