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In the hunt for the Chase

July 31, 2012, Andrew Shain, Special to NASCAR.COM,

Four Coca-Cola drivers bolster playoff chances with top-10 finishes at Indy

Led by Greg Biffle, four of the five Coca-Cola Racing Family drivers in the hunt for the Chase landed in the top-10 at Indianapolis.

Biffle, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart bolstering their chances to make NASCAR's playoffs.

Greg Biffle

Indianapolis finish: Third

Season standings: Third

Biffle had a strong car and a strong finish. He qualified a personal-best fifth at the Brickyard. Despite battling some loose handling, Biffle never slid out of the top-15 while running fourth place on average. Biffle finished third -- his fifth straight top-10 at Indy and his fourth top-10 in his past six races. He's 22 points behind leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the season standings.

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What he said: "We did two tires there at the end, and I thought a lot of people would do two tires, and it turned out most everybody did four. That hurt us a little bit, but still, we ended up third. It kind of flattened off. That caution right there probably helped us, probably helped the tires equalize, and when we fired off there again, we were able to maintain."

Denny Hamlin

Indianapolis finish: Sixth

Season standings: Fifth

Hamlin seems to have retaken control of his season. He won the pole after never qualifying better than 10th at Indianapolis. Hamlin remained at the front until his car would not turn on a restart around Lap 50. He slid up the track and fell back from second to the mid-teens. Hamlin needed nearly 60 laps to get inside the top five. He came home in sixth for his third top-10 in four races. He solidified himself in fifth place in the points standings.

What he said: "We had about a fourth-, fifth-, sixth-place car, and that's kind of where we ended up. Once I got back there, I was able to maintain and make up a little ground, but I wasn't going to go any further forward than where I was. ... It's so hard to pass, and everyone who finishes second to 43rd is going to tell you that same thing. It's frustrating, but it's part of it. We come to this track that wasn't necessarily made for our cars and it's just tough."

Ryan Newman

Indianapolis finish: Seventh

Season standings: 14th

Newman has kept within a few cars lengths of a Chase spot. At Indy, he qualified 11th but fell outside the top 15 while battling a tight car. His Chevy would loosen as the day wore on, but he could not crack the top 10 until his final stop with 33 laps left. His crew made one last adjustment and got him out in seventh place, where he would take the checkered flag. Newman has three consecutive top-10 finishes. He remains just outside the final wild-card spot. Newman is 15 points or another win away from the Chase.

What he said: "We finally got good track position there toward the end, and we were able to keep it. The Quicken Loans Chevrolet was good. We just didn't have quite the speed we needed. The guys gave me a great pit stop at the end. It was a fantastic stop, and I'm proud of them."

Tony Stewart

Indianapolis finish: 10th

Season standings: Eighth

Stewart did not like his poor-handling car in practice or in qualifying but did not seem to mind a top-10 finish. He struggled with a tight car but managed to gain 12 spots in 50 laps after starting 28th. He dropped back outside the top 30 after a tire got away during a pit stop on Lap 74. Stewart made his way his through the field and reached the top 10 with about 10 laps left. He has five top-10 finishes in his past seven races. His record at Indianapolis has been impressive, with eight top-10s in his past nine Brickyard races.

What he said: "We just didn't start the weekend off good enough, but I will say that I'm really proud of [crew chief] Steve Addington, [competition director] Greg Zipadelli and all of our engineers and everybody who worked hard [Saturday] night to make this car what it was [Sunday]. It was a lot better, but this is where we should've unloaded instead of trying to be good for the race."

Joey Logano

Indianapolis finish: 33rd

Season standings: 17th

Logano needs his luck to be little different than what he found at Indy to win a spot in the Chase. He qualified third and was a staple in the top 10 for the first 90-plus laps despite a loose car. But his crew was slow to make an adjustment on a pit stop that cost him 15 places. The car became very tight in traffic and eventually went sideways. Logano collided with another driver, and he struck the outside wall for a career-worst 33rd at the Brickyard. He is 44 points or another win from catching a Chase wild card.

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What he said: "That was just unfortunate and not the kind of day we were looking for. We weren't a race-winning car, but I think if we had kept getting it better and better, we could have finished in the top five for sure. ... It was tough, and I hate that we ended up wrecking the car. We were just trying to make it back to the front. It's just a bad day. We just need to keep our heads up and go back to Pocono and try to get another win."

Other Coca-Cola drivers: Jamie McMurray finished 22nd, his worst finish in nine races. He moved up a spot to 19th in the standings. ... Bobby Labonte was 26th despite being involved in a wreck. He led his first lap of the season and sits 23rd in the points. .. Jeff Burton finished 32nd -- his lowest result in 18 races -- after a flat tire. He slid one position to 20th in the standings.

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