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Wildcard hopefuls need Stewart, Keselowski to finish strong

By admin | June 14, 2012

By Richard Allen


NASCAR rules call for those within the top-10 in the series standings after the 26th race of the season to be eligible to do battle for the Sprint Cup crown. Also, two ‘wildcard’ drivers are to be added to the playoff which decides the season title winner.

The wildcard recipients are those drivers in positions 11-20 after that cutoff race in Richmond who have the most race wins. Should there be a tie in the number of wins among drivers in those points positions, the driver highest in the standings will be chosen for the Chase.

As of right now(just over halfway to the cutoff), there are four drivers in positions 11-20 with one win each. Kyle Busch and Ryan Newman are the most highly placed among those with Joey Logano and Kasey Kahne hoping to move up.

Obviously, there is the possibility for any of the other six drivers in those positions to win a race as well. Carl Edwards and Paul Meanard are best among those with no wins who are outside the top-10. Either of those two drivers would immediately move into one of the wildcard spots should they win.

But of great concern to any of the wildcard hopefuls should be the fact that Tony Stewart and Brad Keselwoski, each within the top-10 of the standings and with two victories so far, are barely clinging to those automatic qualifier positions. Should either of those drivers suffer poor finishes in the near future they could fall out of the top-10 and then become first in line for a wildcard.

Obviously, someone would have to take the place of a driver who falls out of the top-10. Should those filling the vacated spots be the winless Edwards or Menard, then those with one win could find themselves on the outside looking in.

Needless to say, drivers Busch, Newman, Logano and Kahne want to move up in the standings and not have to rely on the wildcard. But at the same time, it could work against them should Stewart and Keselowski falter and be replaced in the top-10 by winless drivers.

One of the many oddities of the Chase system is that it actually causes some drivers to root for those ahead of them in the standings to do well instead of dropping back. As things currently stand, Busch and Newman would be fine with Stewart and Keselowski staying right where they are.

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