Kevin Harvick’s eighth-place finish Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway might seem like a ho-hum result for a driver who has 10 top-two finishes this season, but it helped the reigning champion clinch a berth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Harvick, who has two victories this season, becomes the first driver to grab a Chase spot – provided he starts each of the eight remaining races before the Chase begins.
He has 692 points. Harvick holds a 410-point lead over David Gilliland, who is 31st in the season standings. Gilliland cannot make up that gap in the next eight races, assuring that Harvick will be in the top 30 in points by the time the Chase field is set.
Any driver with a 336-point lead or more on 31st after this weekend’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway can clinch a Chase spot.
Both Jimmie Johnson and Joey Logano hold a 342-point lead on 31st in the standings at this point and could clinch a Chase spot. Dale Earnhardt Jr. has a 334-point lead on 31st in the standings and could clinch a Chase spot at New Hampshire if he gains a couple more points.