Summer is finally here. Can you believe it? Seems just yesterday NASCAR fans were counting down the months, weeks, and days until the Daytona 500, now the fans and media alike are counting down the races until Richmond International Raceway, and the cutoff for the Chase for the Sprint Cup. With 15 races under the drivers belts, a solid baseline has already been established over who is in, who is on the bubble looking in with at least one win this season, and the guys just scrambling to put together a win or at least a good finish to get them into NASCAR’s version of a playoff.
Here are the drivers who are definitely in the 2012 Chase for the Sprint Cup. These six drivers have grabbed the bull by the horns and are showing the rest of the boys that they are the class of the field and deserve the honor to be called the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion.
Matt Kenseth: Driver of the No. 17 Ford for Roush-Fenway Racing wasted no time winning a race, the Daytona 500, and since then has been nothing short of consistent week in and week out. Currently Kenseth leads the point and with a win in his pocket, there is no doubt he will be racing for a shot at the championship.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr: He finally did it NASCAR fans. Dale Jr was able to finally break the 143 drought last Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, just in case you’ve been living under a rock. Earnhardt has definitely established himself as one of the guys to beat in 2012. He is the only driver to compete in all the laps this season. He also has 12 top 10s, a season high for NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver. Now that the monkey is off Earnhardt’s back, expect him to win a lot more and soon.
Greg Biffle: Another Roush-Fenway Racing driver in top form. Since the season began at Daytona, Biffle hasn’t left the top three in points. He’s led well over 500 laps in nine races, has a victory at Texas Motor Speedway, and has been on the Coors Light Pole twice this season already. Expect Biffle to stay at the top when the final 10 races start.
Jimmie Johnson: Can’t have a Chase for the Sprint Cup without “Five-time”. He has won two races already this season, at Darlington and Dover, and the rest of the field should be worried for what the Lowes Racing team has under their belts. Keep your eyes on Johnson and Knaus as they make their way to the front. They are capable of winning their sixth championship.
Denny Hamlin:He has won two races already this season, as well and has been a fixutre in the Top 10 for the first 15 races. Hamlin and the No. 11 have looked strong in the process of obtaining their first championship. They have seven top fives this season. They weren’t in the championship hunt last year, after 2010’s great run, could this be the year they are back?
Kevin Harvick: Baby Otis isn’t stopping Harvick, or is he? He hasn’t had much to smile about lately, as the No. 29 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing hasn’t been in Victory Lane. They have been in the top 20 for every race but one, Talladega in early May. They should continue to move to the front of the field, but there are much stronger cars coming.
Martin Truex, Jr. will likely make the Chase for the Sprint Cup, but sitting in seventh place with no wins makes him iffy if he were to slip out of the Top 10. 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion, Tony Stewart, is another likely in because of the two wins he has under his belt. Eighth in points, he could easily slip out of the Top 10, making rough for Brad Keselowski to jump into the Chase with his two wins as well. Then you have to add Clint Bowyer into the mix. Bowyer, is in the same position as his Michael Waltrip Racing teammate, Truex but further down the ladder in ninth. Whatever happens, this is going to make for one exciting summer!