Wild Card Scenarios Wild in Richmond

Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards

Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards are among the drivers fighting for a Wild Card spot. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Wild Card Standings

The race for the two Wild Card spots in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship will go down to the wire Saturday night in Richmond.

Nine drivers have clinched top-10 spots in the Chase heading into the Federated Auto Parts 400: Greg Biffle, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick. Tony Stewart, currently 10th, has clinched at least a Wild Card spot.

That leaves a pair of positions on the table in the 400-lap event at the .75-mile short track to be decided between at least eight drivers.

Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch currently hold the pair of Wild Card spots but neither driver is taking anything for granted.

“We had a solid finish at Richmond in the spring, and we need another one this weekend,” said Kahne, who with two wins is in the driver’s seat in the number one Wild Card spot. “Our cars have been really fast on the short tracks all year. We need to put together a full race and get ourselves into the Chase on Saturday night.”

Although Busch has the second position for now, he knows with the likes of Jeff Gordon breathing down his neck Saturday night is going to be a battle in Richmond.

"I'm not saying that I'm for sure going to be in at all — anything can happen," Busch said. "Jeff is no slouch at Richmond either — he will be fine. I feel like that's the guy we're racing — the 24 car. We'll just have to see how it all plays out. Jeff could give us a run for our money."

In fact, Gordon is counting on that happening. After missing a chance he thought he had to win last Sunday night in Atlanta, when he felt there should have more been aggression chasing eventual winner Denny Hamlin to the finish line, Gordon is hungry for win number two of the season and a berth in the Chase.

"We got a lot of pressure on us, so we're going to be going there, guns loaded, and ready to do battle,” said Gordon. “We're just going to fight all the way to that last lap. Short track is a little bit different than mile and a half. I think everybody expects there to be a little more pushing and shoving on the short track. So that's definitely going to ramp up the intensity."

There are nearly an infinite number of computations in play Saturday night for the drivers who still have a chance at getting into the playoffs:

Tony Stewart, on the strength of three wins, has already clinched at least a Wild Card Chase spot. Regardless of where any other driver finishes, he will clinch a top-10 position with a finish of 14th or better, 15th and at least one lap led or 16th and the most laps led. Only three drivers can supplant Stewart in the top 10: Kahne, Busch and Gordon.

Kahne is the only driver outside the top 10 with two wins. A win would clinch a Chase berth. If Stewart stays in the top 10, Kahne clinches a Chase spot. If Stewart falls out of the top 10, Kahne will clinch a spot if a one-win driver outside the top 10 does not win. If Busch supplants Stewart in the top 10, and Gordon wins, Kahne clinches a spot by finishing 13th or better, 14th with at least one lap led or 15th with the most laps led.

There are six drivers outside the top 10 with one win: Busch, Gordon, Marcos Ambrose, Ryan Newman and Joey Logano. If one of those one-win drivers wins at Richmond AND Stewart remains in the top 10 (or Kahne supplants Stewart in the top 10), that one-win driver would have two wins, and clinch a Chase spot.

The following scenarios are if a one-win driver DOES NOT win at Richmond: If Stewart remains in the top 10 or if Kahne supplants Stewart in the top 10, Busch will clinch a Chase spot by losing 12 or fewer points to Gordon AND by losing 40 or fewer points to Ambrose. A win would guarantee Busch a Chase berth.

Gordon: If Stewart remains in the top 10 or if Kahne supplants Stewart in the top 10, Gordon will clinch by finishing 13 points ahead of Busch at Richmond AND by losing 28 or fewer points to Ambrose AND by losing 37 or fewer points to Ryan Newman. If Busch supplants Stewart in the top 10, Gordon would clinch a Chase berth with a win AND finishing 18 points ahead of Kahne at Richmond.

Ambrose: If Stewart remains in the top 10 or if Kahne supplants Stewart in the top 10, Ambrose will clinch by finishing 41 points ahead of Busch AND 29 points ahead of Gordon.

Newman: Newman can only clinch a Chase berth with a win. If either Busch or Gordon supplants Stewart in the top 10, Newman will be eliminated.

Logano: Logano can only clinch a Chase berth with a win. If either Busch or Gordon supplant Stewart in the top 10, Logano will be eliminated.

Two winless drivers outside the top 10 can clinch: Carl Edwards and Paul Menard.

Carl Edwards: Edwards needs to win (47-point win) AND Busch has to finish 24th or worse (with no laps led) at Richmond AND Gordon has to finish 12th or worse at Richmond. If Busch or Gordon supplant Stewart in the top 10, Edwards will be eliminated.

Paul Menard: Menard needs to win (47-point win) AND Busch has to finish 34th or worse (with no laps led) AND Gordon has to finish 22nd or worst (with no laps led) at Richmond. If Busch or Gordon supplant Stewart in the top 10, Menard will be eliminated.

Gentleman, start your engines... and your calculators.

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