Bowyer, Biffle, Larson on Chase hot seats with two to go

Many of the recent winners at Atlanta have already locked up a Chase spot.

Bowyer, Biffle, Larson on Chase hot seats with two to go
Greg Biffle, Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Greg Biffle, Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Greg Biffle, Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Ryan Newman and Greg Biffle
Kyle Larson, Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Ryan Newman and Greg Biffle
Greg Biffle, Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Clint Bowyer, Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota
Kyle Larson, Ganassi Racing Chevrolet

Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle and Kyle Larson are playing a high stakes musical chairs game of sorts. At the moment, Bowyer and Biffle sit in the final two seats to qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with Larson standing on the outside looking in at 17th on the current Chase Grid.

All three drivers need a victory to assure themselves spots in the Chase – and avoid being bumped down from their respective perches with a win by a competitor currently ranked lower.

I hope we can go there and get a win and stop worrying about points,

Kyle Larson

With the music still playing a mere two races left before NASCAR’s postseason, it’s not necessarily a win or go home situation, but it’s close to it.

Entering this Sunday’s Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta (7:30 p.m. on ESPN), Larson trails Biffle by a hefty 26 points for the final seed on the grid, while Biffle looms only five points behind Bowyer for the minimal breathing room afforded by the 15th spot.

“I hope we can go there and get a win and stop worrying about points,” Larson said.  “I think 26 behind Biffle is a long way to go for two races.  Hope for some bad luck for him, but we will see.”

The last two races, Larson has been plagued by some of the bad luck he wished on Biffle. The 22-year-old – attempting to become the second rookie to ever qualify for the Chase – finished 43rd at Michigan after a wreck and managed an impressive 12th-place finish at Bristol after starting the field from the rear after crashing his primary car in qualifying.

Potential good news for Biffle and Bowyer? Many of the recent winners at Atlanta have already locked up a Chase spot – and are favorites heading into the weekend. A repeat winner this weekend would guarantee that at least three winless drivers earn a spot on the Chase Grid.

Although they’re in comfortable, yet not reassuring situations, Biffle and Bowyer still both feel they need wins.

“You take chances, make passes, do all the things you can do,” said Biffle prior to Bristol. “But at the same time, we know we’re on the bubble in points. I feel it’s going to take a win still to get in this thing, and that’s what we’re going for.”

Bowyer’s crew chief, Brian Pattie, spoke about the team in advance of Bristol, emphasizing racing to win, but also mentioning not taking reckless chances.

“We go to the track every weekend looking to win,” he said. “That doesn’t change. But we’re not going to be stupid. If we have a chance to win we will go for it, of course, but we aren’t going to do something to jeopardize a good finish. We just need to stay focused on what we need to do to get a finish and if a win is in reach we will go for it.”

For the winless drivers, here are the clinch scenarios for Atlanta:

If there is a repeat winner, the top-three winless drivers would clinch if they are at least 45 points ahead of the fourth highest winless driver.

If there is a new winner at Atlanta, two winless drivers remain guaranteed to make the Chase. In this scenario, the new winner would clinch, if he/she finishes the race at least 49 points ahead of 31st. The top-two winless drivers would clinch if they are at least 45 points ahead of the third-highest winless driver.

Matt Kenseth controls his own destiny.  A seventh-place finish locks him in no matter who wins at Atlanta.

NASCAR

shares
comments
Hendrick Motorsports wraps up two-day test at Martinsville

Previous article

Hendrick Motorsports wraps up two-day test at Martinsville

Next article

Danica Patrick: Laboring on Labor Day Weekend

Danica Patrick: Laboring on Labor Day Weekend
Load comments
From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview Prime

From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview

The death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500 shocked NASCAR to the core. At the Daytona 24 Hours, two weeks before his fatal accident, ‘The Intimidator’ shared his expectations of challenging for an eighth Cup title with JONATHAN INGRAM, in an article first published in the 15 February 2001 issue of Autosport magazine. Little did we know then what tragedy would unfold…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death Prime

The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death

On February 18, 2001, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Dale Earnhardt – the fearless ‘Intimidator’ – was in his element at Daytona International Speedway. While his own DEI team’s cars ran 1-2 towards the finish line, his famed #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo was playing rear gunner to block any late runs from the chasing pack. As the cars tore through Turns 3 and 4 on that fateful final lap, Earnhardt maintained the strongarm tactics that encapsulated his persona… but his actions in those moments sadly proved to be his last.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR Prime

Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR

The NASCAR Cup Series is changing. Whether it be the gradual morphing out the seasoned drivers of yesterday as the next generation step up, a radical calendar shake-up featuring more road courses than ever before and the prospect of an all-new car on the horizon, stock car racing’s highest level is nearing the end of a huge facelift.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2021
The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021 Prime

The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 13, 2021
Why Kyle Larson can't blow his big shot at redemption Prime

Why Kyle Larson can't blow his big shot at redemption

From a disgraced NASCAR exile, Kyle Larson has been given a chance of redemption by the powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports squad. Effectively replacing seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson is no easy billing, but Larson has every intention of repaying the team's faith...

NASCAR Cup
Feb 11, 2021
Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon Prime

Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon

In this exclusive one-on-one interview, Roger Penske reveals the inner drive that has made him not only a hugely successful team owner and businessman but also the owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar. He spoke to David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Dec 28, 2020
Why NASCAR's latest second-generation champion is just getting started Prime

Why NASCAR's latest second-generation champion is just getting started

Chase Elliott's late charge to the 2020 NASCAR Cup title defied predictions that it would be a Kevin Harvick versus Denny Hamlin showdown. While the two veterans are showing no signs of slowing down, Elliott's triumph was a window into NASCAR's future…

NASCAR Cup
Nov 18, 2020
Why Kyle Larson deserves his second chance in a cancel culture Prime

Why Kyle Larson deserves his second chance in a cancel culture

“You can’t hear me? Hey n*****” Those fateful words uttered by Kyle Larson, spoken into his esports headset on April 12, were directed at his sim racing spotter – but instead they quickly became amplified around the world via social media, including his own Twitch stream.

NASCAR Cup
Oct 29, 2020