Chase Grid: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth on outside looking in

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It’s almost here. After five Chase races, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Talladega Superspeedway this weekend for the next elimination race.

With Talladega’s level of unpredictability, the only Chase driver safe is Joey Logano, who has won the past two races to earn his way into the third round. For the remaining 11 Chase drivers, the pressure is on to make the cutoff to the final eight. Last year, Kyle Busch entered this race second in points, crashed and failed to advance.

Denny Hamlin, who is second, has an 18-point lead on teammate Kyle Busch, who is the first driver outside the eighth and final transfer spot. Also outside a transfer spot are Ryan Newman, who finished second in last year’s Chase, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Matt Kenseth, who was on the verge of winning Sunday at Kansas Speedway until contact with Logano spun him.

Here’s the Chase standings

(*automatically advances to third round via victory)

1 – Joey Logano … 3095 points*

2 – Denny Hamlin … 3082 points

3 – Kurt Busch … 3077 points

4 – Carl Edwards … 3076 points

5 – Kevin Harvick … 3071 points

6 – Jeff Gordon … 3071 points

7 – Brad Keselowski … 3071 points

8 – Martin Truex Jr. … 3070 points

9 – Kyle Busch … 3064 points

10 – Ryan Newman … 3062 points

11 – Dale Earnhardt Jr. … 3039 points

12 – Matt Kenseth … 3035 points

Chase drivers eliminated from title contention

13 – Jamie McMurray … 2154 points

14 – Jimmie Johnson … 2134 points

15 – Paul Menard … 2109 points

16 – Clint Bowyer … 2086 points