The race to the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship is really heating up now.
Five positions in the Chase are up for grabs with five races remaining before the 16-driver field is set.
The Sprint Cup Series heads to Watkins Glen for its second and final road-course event of the season.
After Watkins Glen, the series moves on to Michigan, Bristol and Atlanta before the 26-race regular
season concludes on Sept. 6 at Richmond.
Following this past Sunday's race at Pocono, seven drivers have clinched a spot in the playoffs for
NASCAR's premier series. They are: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon,
Joey Logano, Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick, assuming they all attempt to qualify for each of the last
five races in the regular season.
All seven drivers have multiple victories this season. By virtue of his three wins and current second-
place in the point standings, Earnhardt holds the top spot on NASCAR's "Chase Grid." He won the
Daytona 500 and scored a season-sweep at Pocono.
Gordon currently holds the lead in the point standings, but his two wins (Kansas and Indianapolis) have
him ranked fifth on the Chase grid.
Having one victory each in 2014, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Aric Almirola and Kurt Busch have all but
assured themselves a position in the Chase.
Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer, rookie Kyle Larson and Greg Biffle have not won a race
this season, but they presently hold the five provisional spots in the Chase.
Sitting fourth, Kenseth is the highest-ranked driver in the point standings that doesn't have a victory.
He led the series with seven wins last year. Kenseth finished 38th at Pocono after being involved in the
13-car accident late in the race.
Newman, in his first season with Richard Childress Racing, finished eighth at Pocono and moved from
seventh to fifth in points (26 behind Kenseth).
Bowyer's fourth-place run last weekend marked his first top-five finish since June 1 at Dover. He
moved up one spot in points to ninth.