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Crunch Time In NASCAR Heading To Atlanta

Atlanta Motor Speedway (Getty Images)

With just two races left before the start of the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, it’s crunch time for drivers battling for a playoff spot.

The top-three drivers in the points standings — Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. — have already clinched a spot in the field. Matt Kenseth will likely join them. All he needs to do is finish 40th or better this Sunday night at Atlanta.

And mathematically the Top-10 positions could all be nailed down after Atlanta.

So heading to Richmond for the final regular season race the only thing left to decide would be the two wild card spots. Those are determined by victories and right now Kasey Khane and Kyle Busch have those spots. Kahne has victories at Charlotte and New Hampshire while Kyle Busch moved up to the second and final wild card spot after his sixth-place finish at Bristol, putting him just ahead of Jeff Gordon.

Gordon is the defending race winner at Atlanta and what happens on Sunday will likely be crucial to his Chase hopes. Atlanta has been a good track for him so he says he and his team will be working hard to win.

And how about Carl Edwards? He ended up in a points tie with Tony Stewart but lost on a tiebreaker. A different story this year. Edwards may not even make the Chase. He has yet to win a race this season and has gone 57 races without a victory. He gambled on fuel and tires late in the race at Bristol last week and it cost him. He was in the lead until Denny Hamlin passed him with 39 laps to go. Hamlin went on to win while Edwards ran out of gas and ended up way back in 22nd place. But Atlanta is a good track for him where he’s won three times.

Looks like Joey Logano will be out of a job at the end of the season. Matt Kenseth is expected to give up the driver’s seat in the Number 22 car at Penske Racing and take over the Number 20 Home Depot car next year. That announcement expected next Tuesday.

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