It is not complicated. Win and you are in the Chase. Do not, and you better be one of the better three of the rest, and even then only one might slip through. At Michigan on Sunday, Kyle Larson punched his ticket with the first Cup win of the 24-year old driver’s career. To say he was pumped would have been an understatement as he jumped into the arms of his crew with checkered flag in hand.
Two races to go, 16 advance, and 13 of the spots have been spoken for. Or is it 12? Maybe 13. That brings us to the curious case for the Chase of Chris Buescher. With just the Penske pairing of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano locked in, Ford would sure like Buescher to join them. We hear Roush had taken the boy to their bosom, put him in a top notch chassis and gave him the best engines they got. Then the damn thing started sputtering on the fourth lap. The fourth. Maybe the agency should have held out for a Penske adoption.
As mentioned, the other dozen drivers with wins under their belt this season are locked in. After Buescher sputtered his way around to finish seven laps down in 35th position, he used up some of his cushion over David Ragan. Over the season, Ragan is ranked 31st. He is seven points behind the 30th rated Buescher, and if he catches up at Darlington then Buescher’s pass to the Chase due to his Pocono win would get torn up.
Ryan Newman just became a big fan of Ragan. He sits 17th on the season. While he is 27 points behind Michigan runner-up Chase Elliott, 21 off of Austin Dillon’s pace, he does sit just 15 behind bubble boy Jamie McMurray. However, if Buescher loses his ticket, Newman pops up a position to claim it as his own. Of course, he could go to Darlington and win that damn thing and take all the guess work out of it.
Come to think of it, 12 are locked in, four more currently hold a spot, while up to 18 others have at least a mathematical shot at winning and advancing heading into this weekend. They really do. Sure, Newman has better odds than Kasey Kahne, but both are ahead of the likes of Danica Patrick and Clint Bowyer. Yet, all are still in it, if you go by math and ignore reality. I mean, even Brian Scott, with a win and a charge into the Top 30 himself, can still do it.
All it takes is a win. Maybe some rain at the right time. Just ask Chris Buescher. Now, if he could just get his hands on some of the Ford good stuff for Darlington.