The field contending for the 2012 Sprint Cup championship took a beating after today’s action at
“Monster Mile” after completing the AAA 400. Brad Keselowski saved fuel and won
as other drivers struggled to reach the checkered flag to give the young driver
a five point lead over the five time champ, Jimmie Johnson.
Meanwhile, some drivers are either out of the chase or face an unprecedented uphill climb to be factor in this year’s championship chase.
Matt Kenseth’s 35th place finish just above the garbage heap ended his run for the championship, looking at a 72 point deficit, the #17 car will not be celebrating at
Greg Biffle (-51), Jeff Gordon (-48), Kevin Harvick (-46), and Martin Truex Jr. (-42) have more than a full race to make up with seven races left. It’s absolutely over for them too.
Current Chase Standings:
|7||--||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||2103||-39|
|8||2||Martin Truex Jr.||2100||-42|
Now looking at where the Chase contenders finished today, the results underscore just what a tough challenge lies head.
|6||3||56||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||38/0|
|11||25||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||33/0|
Right now, it’s a three car shootout for championship honors with Brad Keselowski leading Jimmie Johnson then Denny Hamlin within clear striking distance to take the lead. Tony Stewart and Kasey Kahne almost must win their way into the picture having 32 points between them and the top.
It’s too soon to stick the fork in Dale Earnhardt Jr. but at 39 points out of the top spot, he’ll need to pick up more than 5 ½ points a race with no setbacks to gain his first crown. It’s not just how well each driver does but which drivers he must over come to get to the promised land. Aside from Tony Stewart who does have three wins for the season, the remainder of the teams not yet out of the chase will have to show levels of performance not shown consistently to be a factor.