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Chase Watch Bristol: Who will win and get in?

March 13, 2014, Staff report,

Kasey Kahne won at Bristol in the spring in 2013

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In the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' first three weeks of competition, there have been three different winners and potential Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup contenders. Brad Keselowski caught Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was running on empty, for a victory with a win in the bank.

Heading to the World's Fastest Half-Mile, Joe Gibbs Racing could punch its first 2014 Chase ticket and the first for Toyota. The manufacturer attempts to join the Chevrolets of Earnhardt Jr. and Kevin Harvick and the Ford of Keselowski in NASCAR's version of the playoffs.

Kyle Busch: Among active drivers, Busch is tied with his brother Kurt and Jeff Gordon for most wins (5), and he has the best average finish at 9.889. Busch also has eight top-10 finishes in his last 11 races. The runner-up to Kasey Kahne in this race last spring, Busch set a track record in Coors Light Qualifying for that race. He also swept both Nationwide races in 2013 adding to his record national series win total of 15 in Thunder Valley.

Matt Kenseth: Winner of last year's night race at Bristol, Kenseth has three Cup victories there to go with 11 top-five finishes and 18 top 10s in 28 starts. His 101.8 Driver Rating is tied with Kyle Busch for best at the track. He has a series-high 563 Quality Passes, which is passing a car running in the top 15 while under a green flag.

Jeff Gordon: 'Four-Time' shoved Kenseth on Bristol's pit road in 2006 after the two traded bumps on the track and cost Gordon a top-five finish at the Tennessee short track (he already has 16 top-five finishes at Bristol). He joins Kyle Busch and Kenseth as the only drivers with a Driver Rating over 100 at 101.2. Since the inception of Loop Data, he has the best Average Running Position (9.5) and more laps in the top 15 (7,413) than any other competitor.

Kasey Kahne: With three consecutive top-10 finishes, and a win and a runner-up finish in last year's two races at Bristol, Kahne could join Earnhardt Jr. as the second Hendrick Motorsports driver to all but clinch his spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. With Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano tangling on and off track last spring, it can be easy to forget that Kahne led 109 laps en route to a Driver Rating of 137.4 out of a perfect 150.0. 

Greg Biffle: The driver of the No. 16 has an average finish of 12.0, which is third among active drivers behind only Kyle Busch and Earnhardt Jr. His Driver Rating of 94.8 is fifth-best, and his Average Running Position of 12.7 is third-best. Unlike the other four drivers on the list, he doesn't have a win at Bristol yet, but wins have never meant as much as they do this year so NASCAR's new "win and you're in" policy may be just the motivation he needs.

Go deeper: Check out NASCAR's Bristol Statistical Analysis for more stats and notes for Sunday's Food City 500


Heading into the fourth race of NASCAR's regular season, here is how the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings look:

Pos. Driver Chase berth
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Winner: Daytona
2. Brad Keselowski Winner: Las Vegas
3. Kevin Harvick Winner: Phoenix
4. Jimmie Johnson 3rd in points
5. Joey Logano 4th in points
6. Jeff Gordon 5th in points
7. Carl Edwards 6th in points
8. Matt Kenseth 7th in points
9. Denny Hamlin 8th in points
10. Ryan Newman
9th in points
11. Kyle Busch
10th in points
12. Jamie McMurray
11th in points
13. Greg Biffle 12th in points
14. Austin Dillon 13th in points
15. Kasey Kahne 15th in points
16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 16th in points


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