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Does a Fork Earning Race put you out of the Chase?

Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Last week in this column, ESPN had started putting “Fork” in drivers after only one NASCAR Chase race. It seemed premature to me. Read about it here. This week, after a third Chase race at Dover and a second round of ESPN “Forks”, added even more questions to ponder.  Does one bad race really put you in Fork Land? Is the Chase for the Sprint Cup really down to just three drivers?

The answer to both questions can be found by playing with the numbers. Would the Chase look the same if we removed the offending “Fork” earning races? It is really quite simple, take the drivers starting points and only add in their best two races of the Chase. See the refigured numbers below.

Previous drivers who have earned a “Fork” by car problems are Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne and Joey Logano. One might argue that Carl Edwards also earned a “Fork” last week but has yet to receive it from ESPN. Of these four drivers it can be argued that only Dale Earnhardt Jr. may not have earned a “Fork” since he would be only 29 points back in fifth. The others are essentially in Fork land even after removing their “Fork” earning race.

Looking at the top of the standings they have essentially not changed. In fact they are almost the same. Matt Kenseth leads Jimmie Johnson by nine. Kyle Busch is still third fourteen points back. The only real difference is Kevin Harvick is only 22 points back instead of 39 points back. 39 points back is probably the edge of Fork Land since the most a driver can earn in a race is 48 points over the driver that finishes last.

The bottom line is one bad race really messes up your Chase but one cannot blame it all on that. The top three guys are really that good right now. Unless each and every one of those top drivers has their own Fork Land moment, this race is down to three.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for RantSports.com.

Follow him on Twitter @brian_jr1 during the race and throughout the week for more NASCAR news and commentary, or on Facebook, Pinterest, and Google.

Car # Driver Adjusted Points Actual Points
#20 Matt Kenseth

0

0

#48 Jimmie Johnson

-9

-8

#18 Kyle Busch

-14

-12

#29 Kevin Harvick

-22

-39

#88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.

-29

-57

#24 Jeff Gordon

-31

-39

#16 Greg Biffle

-32

-41

#99 Carl Edwards

-36

-65

#22 Joey Logano

-36

-66

#39 Ryan Newman

-39

-48

#78 Kurt Busch

-40

-55

#15 Clint Bowyer

-41

-51

#5 Kasey Kahne

-48

-78