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NASCAR: Tight race for final Chase spots

Published August 17, 2013 11:53 pm

NASCAR • Only 12 points separate 8th and 12th place.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Brooklyn, Mich. • Greg Biffle is back at Michigan International Speedway, where he has won the last two Sprint Cup races. It should be a comfortable spot — but then Biffle analyzes the standings.

"We are in the middle of the bees' nest and we understand that," Biffle said. "All we can do is get the best finishes we can the next four weeks."

Biffle is in ninth place in the standings, and he's not the only one in a precarious position as NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup approaches. There are four races left before the Chase, with the top 10 drivers qualifying along with two wild cards.

Even defending Cup champion Brad Keselowski isn't secure. He's in eighth place, but only 12 points separate him from 12th-place Kasey Kahne. The gap between Keselowski and 16th-place Joey Logano is only 36 points, and Logano won the pole for Sunday's race at MIS.

Martin Truex Jr. is 10th, and he's as unnerved as Biffle — although he picked a different scary insect for his analogy.

"We're kind of in that hornets' nest there, which we've been in for the past month or so," said Truex, who finished third in Michigan in June. "These type of tracks have pretty much been what we've been our best on the last few years, and hopefully that will be the case again this weekend."

The two wild cards go to the drivers between 11th and 20th in the standings who have the most wins. That's why Kahne, who has two victories, is in solid shape. Elsewhere on the bubble, Biffle, Truex and Ryan Newman (14th place) have one win each. Keselowski, Kurt Busch (11th), Jeff Gordon (13th), Jamie McMurray (15th) and Logano have none.

Biffle's lone win came at MIS, but he's had only two top-10 finishes since then. He finished 24th at Indianapolis last month.

"Indy really killed us. That was the turning point for us," he said. "We felt like we were really on some momentum and qualified 27th and finished 24th and never ran better than that all day. That buried us in the points."

Busch, the 2004 Cup champ, is only two points out of 10th place.

Nationwide

AJ Allmendinger led 73 of the 94 laps and survived a late challenge after a restart to win the inaugural Nationwide Children's Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington.

Allmendinger improved his record to 2 for 2 this year in the Nationwide Series, adding a victory to the one he picked up for Penske Racing in his only previous start at Road America. —

Pure Michigan 400

P Sunday, 11 a.m.

TV • ESPN