Despite missing the first 11 races of the season, Kyle Busch could clinch a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup this weekend at Darlington Raceway – a week before the Chase field is set.
Busch is eligible for a Chase spot, in part, because NASCAR waived the requirement that he had to start every Cup race. Busch suffered a broken right leg and fractured left foot in a crash in the Feb. 21 Xfinity Series race at Daytona International Speedway. Busch returned in May for the Sprint All-Star Race and has won four points races since to climb into the top 30 in points to fulfill other requirements to be Chase eligible.
Should Busch leave Darlington with at least a 48-point lead on 31st in the drivers standings, he’ll clinch a Chase spot. Busch holds a 46-point lead on 31st in the standings (Cole Whitt) heading into Sunday night’s Southern 500 on NBC.
Busch isn’t the only driver who could clinch a spot in the Chase this weekend.
If Sunday’s winner is someone who has won this season, any winless driver 45 points ahead of the fifth-highest winless driver make the Chase. If Sunday’s winner is a first-time winner this season, then a winless driver would need to lead the fourth-highest winless driver by 45 points to clinch.
Drivers who have clinched a Chase spot are: Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards.
Kyle Busch is the only driver with at least a win who has yet to clinch a Chase position.
Winless drivers who are in a Chase-eligible spot heading into Darlington are: Jamie McMurray (696 points), Ryan Newman (683), Paul Menard (674), Jeff Gordon (672) and Clint Bowyer (655).
The Chase field will be set after the Sept. 12 Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway.
After NASCAR’s regular season wraps up September 12th in Richmond, the Chase grid will be set. Sign up atnbcsports.com/gridchallenge and lock in your picks for each stage of the Chase for a chance to win $16 million.