The opportunity for drivers to earn spots in NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup by winning races continues to dwindle as just three races remain before the Labor Day Weekend event at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
A total of five slots in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series playoff format are up for grabs with five races left before the Chase field will be set. With Labor Day Weekend being the next-to-last event before the field for the Chase is set, Atlanta Motor Speedway will lay out a golden opportunity for drivers to lock themselves in, even if they are outside the top 16 positions in the points standings.
If the Chase were to begin today, Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle, Kyle Larson, Ryan Newman and Clint Bowyer would make the field without a race victory based on their season-long points accumulation. A race victory, however, would lock them in. The list of drivers who would not make the Chase is filled with some of NASCAR'S biggest names, some of which have found great success at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
"For teams that have not secured a Chase spot yet, Labor Day Weekend is going to be huge. For teams and drivers who have not had the season they may have hoped for, they're in must-win mode," Atlanta Motor Speedway President & GM Ed Clark said. "If you're trying to get into the Chase, there's no time to settle for a good points day. That should lead to some of the most exciting racing of the entire season."
Nine drivers who recorded a victory in 2013 have yet to win so far in 2014. Among them is Tony Stewart, who is currently 19th in the points standings, is a three-time winner at Atlanta, his most recent victory coming in 2010. Kasey Kahne ranks 14th in the standings, but by virtue of not yet having a race victory is not locked into the Chase. Kahne, who has won two times at Atlanta, knows plenty about the importance of the Atlanta race on the schedule. His victory in the inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup Series night race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2009 clinched a Chase spot.
A handful of other drivers have their eyes on the Chase as well. Despite winning the Sprint All Star race earlier this season, Jamie McMurray is not yet in the Chase. The same holds true to a group that includes Marcos Ambrose, A.J. Allmendinger, Martin Truex, Jr. and Brian Vickers.
A race victory for any of the drivers would send them to the Chase. As the next five events approach, the intensity will be at a season-high for teams and drivers seeking a highly coveted position in NASCAR's playoff format. That energy will make the Labor Day Weekend a must-win event for Chase hopefuls and perhaps the biggest race of their entire season.
For more information on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Labor Day weekend of night racing, contact the Atlanta Motor Speedway Ticket Office at (770) 946-4211, (877) 9-AMS-TIX or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.