Those drivers on the outside of the top 12 have raced with a sense of urgency over the past three races. At least that’s what the stats say.
Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch and Jamie McMurray — currently vying for a spot in the top 12 — sit 13th through 15th, respectively. But since the Race to the Chase (the 10 events leading up to the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup) began three races ago at New Hampshire International Speedway, all three have cut their points deficits.
Prior to the New Hampshire race, Kurt Busch was in 16th place, 171 points behind 12th-place Dale Earnhardt Jr. Two top 10s later, Busch is 14th, just 77 points out.
Ryan Newman began the Race to the Chase in 13th position. He’s still there, but is now only 30 points behind Earnhardt — he started with a 96-point deficit.
Jamie McMurray, with his Pepsi 400 win, also has closed the gap. McMurray started the Race to the Chase 129 points out of the top 12. He’s now 111 points out.
Busch and Newman, especially, have excelled over the first three races of the Race to the Chase. Below are some of the stats of drivers who were targeting the 12th-place cutoff prior to New Hampshire.
In the cases of Kurt Busch and Newman, the finishes also have favored those outside the top 12.
As for the remaining seven tracks in the Race to the Chase, Kurt Busch seems like a driver who could make a major move. Busch has nine career wins at the upcoming seven tracks — only Jeff Gordon (24) and Tony Stewart (10) have more. Over the past two years at the seven tracks, he has a solid Driver Rating of 97.0 and an Average Running Position of 13.4.