With the dominating performance by Brad Keselowski at Loudon in the rear view mirror, the 2014 Cup chase is nearing its stretch run.
The haves and have nots will be sorted out in the next few weeks, and the process may be just too much for some drivers and well within the means of several others.
Jimmy Johnson had a tough one in New Hampshire, blowing two tires early and crashing for a 42nd place finish, but the defending champ is set to make another run at the top prize, and as his record states, don’t ever bet against him.
It’s been a solid year for Jeff Gordon.
He has gone through a streak where he has been first in 11 out of 12 weeks.
That consistency will serve him well as he looks to take another title. It’s been awhile, but he’s not over the hill yet by any means.
The sports most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., is putting together one of the best campaigns of his life and is among those who can take his number 88 to the top of the heap.
If he can beat out his two Hendrick Motor teammates will be the big question.
Carl Edwards came close to a title a couple years back and is within striking distance of the top high rent district of the sport in the standings as he hangs around just below the top five in sixth.
Clint Bowyer is knocking at the door, and if the race Chase started today, he would make the field. But he will have to finish strong to assure a spot among the elite.
Kevin Harvick is in the Chase by virtue of his two season trips to victory lane.
A dangerous driver who can get hot at any time, he has had an inconsistent run lately and needs to gear up to make a real impact at the end.
Joe Gibbs racing star Matt Kenseth is close to being where he wants to be.
He has been steady most of the year and has been around fifth place for sometime now. How he does from here on out will determine his year.
Tony Stewart has a tough time of it after badly breaking his leg late last season. He is hovering just on the outside edge of the field but has time to bring his number 14 into the fray.
Denny Hamlin’s victory in Alabama will assure his place in the Chase but he needs to improve his week-to-week performance to considered a serious threat the crown.
Kurt Busch won in Martinsville so he has that pressure off his back. He does however have to mesh with rookie crew chief Daniel Knost. They expect to be better the second time around the circuit as the second half is underway.
That’s only eleven among 16 or 17 or so that have a real shot vying for the 2014 title.
You can bet that a half dozen more than this group will show their colors as the field gets closer to the kickoff of the Chase this fall.
But if you had to bet the house on the outcome, count on one of the big three of Hendrick Motors to be the last man standing.