Potential clinching scenarios for drivers to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup could become much clearer after Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen.
There are currently 11 different winners, with five races remaining to reach the Chase. That also means there are still five available spots open in the Chase for first-time winners in 2015.
That number will be four if Kyle Busch reaches and remains in the top-30 after Richmond to qualify for the Chase.
All multiple race-winners thus far this season — Jimmie Johnson (4 wins), Kevin Harvick (2), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2), Matt Kenseth (2) and Kurt Busch (2) — have already clinched their respective Chase berths.
Single-race winners thus far this season – Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards – will officially clinch their spots in the Chase if one of this year’s race-winning drivers takes yet another checkered flag Sunday at Watkins Glen.
All drivers that have/will have clinched must still start all of the four remaining races after Watkins Glen to maintain their Chase berth.
But wait, there’s more, per a NASCAR media release:
* “If there’s a new winner this weekend, Kevin Harvick can mathematically guarantee that the points leader at regular season’s end has a win. If he leaves Watkins Glen with a 176-point lead over the highest non-winning driver, it would guarantee the points leader after race No. 26 would have at least one win – and all one-win drivers would then clinch a spot as long as they also have clinched a top 30 spot.”
* “If Harvick doesn’t accomplish the above, and there’s a new winner, single-win drivers could lock up a Chase spot, but would need help (a clinching single-win driver would need to ensure that the lowest ranked winner could not pass him/her in the points – and that includes drivers who could potentially win).”