NASCAR is at the halfway break and one thing is clear. The changes that NASCAR made to the Chase for the Sprint Cup have made it so that wins are important. Last year Tony Stewart went from, at his own admission, not deserving a spot in the Chase, getting five wins in the Chase and winning the Championship. Carl Edwards seemingly had the Chase in hand but won only one race during the regular season and ended up losing the Championship by one point. All of the drivers have appeared to have taken note that wins during the regular season and the Chase are more important than ever.
The top ten drivers, with the exceptions of Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr., all have at least one win. More importantly, they are all 46 points away from eleventh place Carl Edwards. Unless some big disaster happens to any one of them, the top ten drivers are all but locked into the Chase. They can race for wins and take the extra points that are awarded for race wins with them into the Chase. It is all about wins for them at this point.
Carl Edwards is eleventh in points, twenty points ahead of 12th but without any wins he misses the Chase. The two wild card spots go to the drivers 11th through 20th who have the most race wins. There are four drivers with at least one race win behind him that will leap frog him unless he wins a race. It is all about wins for Carl Edwards. Right now without one he does not make the Chase. Kasey Kahne, who is in 12th place, has two wins. The rest have one win. With seven races remaining, the odds that either Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman, or Joey Logano get another win are pretty good. Carl Edwards will probably need more than one win.
Looking at Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman, or Joey Logano, they can’t be assured to be in the Chase so they also need to race hard to get another win.
Paul Menard, Jeff Gordon, Marcos Ambrose, Jeff Burton, and Jamie McMurray have not won a race yet this season and have absolutely no way to get into the Chase without getting multiple wins.
When NASCAR started the Chase for the Sprint Cup the ultimate goal was to make winning more important than just racing for the points. It appears that they have finally gotten it right. With seven races to go there is no driver that can just sit back and relax, if they want a Championship they need to win races. Race Fans, it is now all about the wins.
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