By Michelle Lesener
Each and every point is crucial as all drivers and fans know, especially as we get closer and closer to the Chase cutoff.
|What every Sprint Cup driver wants
Photo – Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Going into Pocono, Dale Earnhardt Jr. held the points lead while Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch held the two wild card spots. Over the course of the rain shortened race at Pocono this past weekend, many had their eyes on the live points, keeping track of their favorite driver ranking. Many also watched as the top-ten changed multiple times and those outside of the top-ten continued their battle over the two coveted wild card spots.
During the race, Dale Earnhardt Jr. had to make an unscheduled trip to the garage when transmission issues left him without 3rd or 4th gear. The 88 team fixed the problem and got their driver out, which allowed them to salvage some points, finishing the day 18 laps down in 32nd place.
Before the race was called, fans saw Dale drop from the points lead and saw both Matt Kenseth & Jimmie Johnson take turns at leading the point standings before an accident on the last restart ruined their day.
The conclusion of the race left Dale Jr. still sitting atop the points, but only by a very slim margin. The top-four in points are all separated by less than ten points with Matt Kenseth five points out, Greg Biffle six points out, and Jimmie Johnson eight points out.
The other hotly contested positions in the Chase are the two wild card spots, which go to the two drivers with the most wins between 11th & 20th in points. Ever since Kasey Kahne won his second race this season at Loudon, he has held the top wild card spot. The second wild card spot has changed hands numerous times, the most recent being after the conclusion of the race at Pocono, where Jeff Gordon took the spot from Kyle Busch.
Kahne also sits 11th in the points, 57 points out of 10th place after Pocono. Making it into the top-ten is key for Kahne as he will not be awarded any bonus points towards Chase seeding by making the chase as the top wild card spot holder. Instead, he would end up in a hole, seeded 11th in the points for the Chase.
With five races remaining before the cutoff race at Richmond that determines our Chase field, anything could change between now and the time the checkers fly.
Who do you think will be atop the points at Richmond?
Do you think Kasey and Jeff will keep their wild card spots?
If not, who do you think will claim the two wild card spots?