Skip to content

With 7 races left to make the Chase, things are going to go from mild to wild

Jul 13, 2014, 6:50 PM EDT

You can see the concern about the potential of not making this year's Chase on Tony Stewart's face. (AP Photo/Jim Cole) AP

The so-called Race to the Chase just got real.

With the final off-weekend of the season next, followed by 17 straight weeks of racing, the remaining seven races leading up to the start of the Chase for the Sprint Cup could once again rival some of the most intense action we’ll see in the actual Chase itself.

The reason is simple: even with seven races remaining, only six drivers are essentially locked into the Chase after Sunday’s race at New Hampshire.

With Brad Keselowski winning Sunday, he’s at the top of the pack with Jimmie Johnson – who had a terrible day at New Hampshire, finishing 42nd due to an early-race wreck – both with three wins apiece.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is also officially in the Chase, with fellow two-time race winners Carl Edwards, Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick all but locked in, as well.

Single race winners Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Aric Almirola and Kurt Busch are all but confirmed for the 10-race playoffs.

But with seven races left to make the Chase and at least nine winless drivers still in the fray, we’re going to see a lot more risk-taking and heated driving from Indianapolis through Richmond.

If the Chase were to start today, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer, Paul Menard and rookie Kyle Larson would be in.

And rookie Austin Dillon, Greg Biffle, Kasey Kahne and Brian Vickers would be left on the outside looking in.

That’s why it’s more crucial than it has been the last few weeks that winless drivers such as Kenseth, Bowyer, Biffle and Tony Stewart – among all the others – find a way to get to victory lane in the remaining seven races prior to the Chase.

In a sense, the race to the Chase will be seven races of desperation. And as the old saying goes, desperate times call for desperate measures.

As a result, we’re likely to see significantly more beating and banging, more blocking and spinning out fellow competitors. With so much on the line, there’s really not much recourse but for those on the bubble or outside looking in to drive like men (and women) possessed.

Stewart could be one of the biggest keys in the next seven races. Not only has he failed to win yet this season, he also runs the risk of not making the Chase for the second consecutive season.

Sure, he missed last year’s Chase due to injuries sustained in a sprint car wreck early last August. But to miss a second Chase – which would mark the first time that’s ever happened to Stewart – would be unheard of.

Only if Stewart were to rally in these next seven races and earn enough points to qualify for the Chase, will he make it. This is not 2011, when he also failed to win any races prior to the Chase, only to still make the playoff on points and then ripped off five wins in the 10 marquee events to capture his third championship.

Click here to take a look at the Chase standings after New Hampshire.

And then click here for the actual Sprint Cup point standings to see where the landscape rests heading into the final off-weekend of, what else, rest.

Because from here on out, there’ll be no rest for the wannabe’s who will do anything they need to do to make the show, regardless of the risk.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Latest Posts
  1. MRTI, PWC at Mid-Ohio: Several different winners emerge

    Aug 1, 2015, 7:00 PM EDT

    Photo: @ Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography Photo: @ Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

    Mazda Road to Indy and Pirelli World Challenge race updates from Mid-Ohio as they happen on one of the busiest road racing days of the year.

  2. Wehrlein takes lead of DTM championship in Austria

    Aug 1, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    HOCKENHEIM, GERMANY - MAY 03:  Pascal Wehrlein of Germany and Mercedes HWA looks on prior to the second race of the DTM 2015 German Touring Car Championship at Hockenheimring on May 3, 2015 in Hockenheim, Germany.  (Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Mercedes F1 reserve driver finishes second at the Red Bull Ring to move into the lead of the DTM championship.

  3. Cole Custer sails to first career ARCA win at Pocono, 9th first-time winner in series in 2015

    Aug 1, 2015, 4:46 PM EDT

    cole custer Getty Images

    In his third career start in the ARCA Racing Series, Cole Custer breezed to victory in Saturday’s ModSpace 125 at Pocono Raceway.

  4. Dixon crushes lap record to score pole in Mid-Ohio (VIDEO)

    Aug 1, 2015, 4:21 PM EDT

    © INDYCAR © INDYCAR

    Dixon blisters previous mark for the track record at Mid-Ohio.

  5. Verstappen to take driving lessons over summer break

    Aug 1, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT

    BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - JULY 25:  Max Verstappen of Netherlands and Scuderia Toro Rosso speaks with members of the media after qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on July 25, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images) Getty Images

    At 17, Verstappen is still too young to get a road driver’s licence in Belgium.

  6. Johansson: Haas has done its homework ahead of F1 entry

    Aug 1, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT

    CONCORD, NC - APRIL 14:  The media looks on as (L-R) Guenther Steiner, team principal of Haas Formula, Gene Haas, founder, Haas Automation and chairman, Haas Formula, and Mike Arning, True Speed Communications, speak during the Gene Haas Formula One Press Conference at the Concord Convention Center on April 14, 2014 in Concord, North Carolina.  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Stefan Johansson, a veteran of over 100 F1 starts, argues the case of customer cars in F1.

  7. WATCH LIVE: Honda Indy 200 qualifying at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN, Live Extra

    Aug 1, 2015, 2:15 PM EDT

    Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio - Day 3 Getty Images

    Watch qualifying for Round 14 of the IndyCar season LIVE from Mid-Ohio.

  8. LED scoring panels debut in practice at Mid-Ohio (VIDEO)

    Aug 1, 2015, 1:02 PM EDT

    © INDYCAR © INDYCAR

    For fans and strategists alike, the new LED panels have been well received at Mid-Ohio.

  9. New Mazda Road to Indy shootout goes global across double-digit series

    Aug 1, 2015, 12:36 PM EDT

    MazdaRoadToIndy

    New global shootout for Mazda scholarship on Mazda Road to Indy is announced.

  10. Vandoorne chasing more wins in push for GP2 title

    Aug 1, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    © GP2 Series © GP2 Series

    He may have an 85 point lead at the top of the GP2 standings, but Vandoorne is not planning to play it safe for the remainder of the season.

  11. Dixon quickest with unofficial lap record in final practice at Mid-Ohio

    Aug 1, 2015, 11:34 AM EDT

    © INDYCAR © INDYCAR

    Dixon does it again in practice with an unofficial lap record at Mid-Ohio, finishing ahead of Newgarden and Kimball.

  12. Rossi focused on GP2 performances in bid for 2016 F1 seat

    Aug 1, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    © GP2 Series © GP2 Series

    Rossi is pushing to become the first American driver to make an F1 start since 2007.

  13. Jamin (USF2000), Cooper (PWC GTS) win first two races of weekend at Mid-Ohio

    Jul 31, 2015, 6:39 PM EDT

    Photo: Tony DiZinno Photo: Tony DiZinno

    Jamin, Cooper emerge victorious to kick off the weekend at Mid-Ohio.

  14. Nasr: Sauber must remain patient for updates

    Jul 31, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    xxxx during the Formula One Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on July 26, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. Getty Images

    Nasr calls on the team to make it through a rough patch ahead of the next raft of updates in Belgium.

  15. Dixon fastest on Friday at Mid-Ohio

    Jul 31, 2015, 4:35 PM EDT

    © INDYCAR © INDYCAR

    The Mid-Ohio dominator tops Friday practice in 2015.

  16. Verstappen joins sim racing team to complement F1 duties

    Jul 31, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - JULY 26:  Max Verstappen of Scuderia Toro Rosso and The Netherlands during the Formula One Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on July 26, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary.  (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Verstappen joins Team Redline’s sim racing roster in a bid to keep sharp when not on the track.

  17. Friday Mid-Ohio news and notes: Walker fallout, Honda update, an extra Sonoma car?

    Jul 31, 2015, 2:57 PM EDT

    © INDYCAR © INDYCAR

    Some news and notes from the paddock at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

  18. Formula E team names revealed for season two; Trulli yet to confirm line-up

    Jul 31, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    Nextev TCRs German driver Nelson Piquet JR (C) drives during the final race of the 2015 FIA Formula E London ePrix championship at Battersea Park in London, England, on June 28, 2015. AFP PHOTO / IAN KINGTON        (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    We round up all of the latest news and developments in Formula E ahead of pre-season testing next month.