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Breaking Down the 2013 NASCAR Chase for the Cup Field

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Chase for the Cup Breakdown

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Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

It’s that time of year again, NASCAR fans. After a wild night at Richmond International Raceway, the field is set for the 2013 Chase for the Cup.

This year’s field is filled with front runners and surprises. What could be more surprising than who’s in the field is who isn’t. Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman and last year's champion Brad Keselowski all missed the chase.

Headlining the field are the usual names. Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards make up the top five in that order. Receiving the two Wild Card spots are Kasey Kahne and Martin Truex Jr. In 10th place, you’ll find Kurt Busch, who drives for the single-car team Furniture Row Racing. This is the first time a single-car team has made the Chase.

The Chase will make a stop at variety of different styles of tracks, excluding road courses. They’ll begin at Chicagoland and will have stops at Dover, Talladega, Charlotte and Martinsville, just to name a few. The 10th and final race will be at Homestead-Miami.

The following is a breakdown of all 12 drivers in the Chase. Keep in mind, this is not a power ranking. We’ll simply start at 12th place and work our way all the way down to no. 1. Across the top of each slide, you’ll find the driver's position, name, how many points they have and how many points behind first place they are in parentheses.

The Sprint Chase for the Cup is set to begin. After 26 weeks of hard racing, it all comes down to these final 10 weeks for these lucky 12 drivers. Let’s break it down driver by driver.

Brian Skinnell is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter, Like him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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12. Martin Truex Jr. - 2000 (-15)

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Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

Martin Truex Jr. made the Chase on the final lap at Richmond on Saturday night. This season, he’s got one win, five top-fives, 11 top-10s and three DNF’s (did not finish). Truex earned his first career win at Dover, the third race in the Chase. His best average finish at any track is 9.9 at Homestead. Truex has an outside shot, but a shot nonetheless.

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11. Kasey Kahne - 2000 (-15)

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Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Kasey Kahne essentially made it in by eliminating his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jeff Gordon. Had Kahne made it in on points and not needed a Wild Card spot, it likely would have been Gordon in the Wild Card spot that Kahne now occupies. At any rate, Kahne has two wins, eight top-fives, 11 top-10s and three DNFs this season. Of tracks in the Chase, Kahne has best average finish of 11.9 at Charlotte. Kahne has been solid at Charlotte this season and a track similar to that is Texas, also in the Chase. Don’t let the 11th place start fool you, Kahne could surprise folks.

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10. Kurt Busch - 2000 (-15)

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Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Kurt Busch pilots the first ever single-car team into the Chase for Furniture Row Racing. In 2013, he has yet to win a race but has eight top-fives, 13 top-10s and two DNF’s. The former champion Busch is going to need to win a race or two to help his championship chances. His career-best average finish of Chase races is 13.9 at Phoenix. Consistency won’t win this championship, however -- he’ll need to win races to steal the cup.

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9. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 2000 (-15)

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John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Dale Earnhardt Jr. always seems to hang out around the front, but never seems to get over the hump. In 2013, he’s got zero wins, five top-fives, 14 top-10s and two DNFs. Junior does have wins at Chicago, Dover, Texas, Phoenix and Talladega, all Chase races. He’ll need to channel that past success if he wants to capture his first career championship. Don’t count him out.

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8. Clint Bowyer - 2000 (-15)

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Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Clint Bowyer caught a little bit of hot water after allegations surfaced that he intentionally spun in the final laps at Richmond to bring out a caution to help his Michael Waltrip Racing teammate, Martin Truex Jr., earn a spot. It should be interesting to see what comes of that. In 2013, Bowyer is currently winless, but has eight top-fives and 13 top-10s with two DNFs. Five of his eight career wins have come at Chase tracks Chicago, New Hampshire and Talladega. He averages a top-15 finish at eight of the Chase tracks, and could make some noise.

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7. Greg Biffle - 2003 (-12)

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Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Greg Biffle’s 2013 season has come as a pleasant surprise for the Roush Fenway Racing team. He’s got one win with three top-fives and 10 top-10s. What’s most impressive is that Biffle has been running at the end of every single race this season. While consistency isn’t enough to win you the championship, it will at least give him a chance. Three of Biffle’s best tracks -- Dover (two wins), Texas (two wins), New Hampshire (one win) -- all fall during the Chase. He’s a definite dark horse to win the championship.

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6. Joey Logano - 2003 (-12)

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Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

Joey Logano has made quite a splash this season with his aggressive driving on the track and sharp tongue off of it. This season, he’s got one win with eight top-fives, 14 top-10s and two DNF’s. His first career win came at New Hampshire, a Chase track, but overall he’s been about average for his career. Don’t forget about the young gun, though.

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5. Carl Edwards - 2006 (-9)

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Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Carl Edwards came oh so close to winning it all two years ago. In 2013, he’s got two wins, including Saturday night at Richmond, eight top-fives, 13 top-10s and one DNF. In his post-race press conference in victory lane, he said that they were going to win a championship because that’s what they are here to do. At the mile-and-a-half tracks in the Chase, you can expect Edwards to do well. The short track of Martinsville and the superspeedway of Talladega will be two tracks where the 99 team will have to overcome past struggles. That being said, Edwards will be contending for the championship right down to the final laps at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

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4. Kevin Harvick - 2006 (-9)

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Kevin Harvick is searching for his first career championship in his final year at Richard Childress Racing. In 2013, Harvick has two wins, six top-fives, 13 top-10s and two DNFs. Harvick has become known for his late-race charges and heroics. He’s had great success at Chase tracks in the past, and is one driver you won’t want to count out until the laps are all finished.

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3. Kyle Busch - 2012 (-3)

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Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Busch has won a lot of races, but has yet to win a championship. The trend seems to say that he starts hot, but finishes cold. In 2013, it was the other way around. He’s won four races, posted 11 top-fives, 15 top-10s and three DNFs. Lately, Busch has started to heat up and looks to be a force in the Chase.

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2. Jimmie Johnson - 2012 (-3)

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Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

Year in and year out, Jimmie Johnson is always in the thick of the Chase for the Cup. This year, the five-time champion will be looking to pick up no. 6 and has a good chance at doing so. He won four races in 2013 with nine top-fives, 15 top-10s and just one DNF. In his career, Johnson has won a race at all Chase tracks except Chicago and Homestead. Still, Johnson averages a top-15 or better at both. You want a safe pick for the championship? Johnson’s your guy.

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1. Matt Kenseth - 2015 (Leader)

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Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

In his first season with Joe Gibbs Racing, Matt Kenseth has all but taken over the NASCAR world. He won a series-high five races with six top-fives, 13 top-10s and three DNFs. Expect the former champion to stick around and battle at the top and to perform well at Dover, Texas and Phoenix. Don’t let the first 26 races fool you -- Kenseth has his tracks that he’ll struggle at, but he has a good chance at winning his second championship.