|Kyle Larson will be looking for some revenge on Allmendinger.|
The race to the Chase has four events remaining until NASCAR's version of the playoffs begin at Chicagoland Speedway Sept. 18, and for the drivers that haven't qualified yet we're going to see some interesting strategy along the way.
Only 12 drivers have made themselves automatic qualifiers with a win on the season, but one of them -- rookie Chris Buescher -- is three points out of the 30th position in points which makes him ineligible to qualify at the moment.
So what we're looking at during NASCAR's final off weekend of the season -- they race next week at Bristol -- is 10 drivers with no wins on the season that are fighting for the final five Chase positions and they're all within 87 points of each other. It's going to be a mad dash, and if Buescher can make up those three points, because of his win, only four spots would be available for those 10 drivers. It's probably the best thing about the Chase.
Let's just call the next four weeks the Wild Card round.
Now to give an idea of how small of a number like 87 points are, consider that Denny Hamlin gathered 44 points for his win Sunday at Watkins Glen and Jimmie Johnson collected just one point for finishing dead last. These drivers can be shuffled around quickly, but the surest way to to collect them is by staying out of trouble and finishing well.
Easier said than done.
On Sunday, Kyle Larson had a top-five finish coming to him and on the last lap when A.J. Allmendinger spun him out. Instead of getting 37 points for finishing fourth, he got only 12 points for finishing 29th. Larson is currently holding the 16th and final position, eight points ahead of Trevor Bayne. He's really pissed off, too.
"We were about a 10th-place car and we were going to get a top-five day out of it," Larson said Sunday. "We were running sixth coming to (Turn) 7; the No. 47 (Allmendinger) was behind me. He is always aggressive. I figured he would be smart.
"Obviously, the No. 78 (Martin Truex Jr.) was spinning in front of us. That is a free spot for both of us and he just dumped me. He had already ran me down to the front stretch wall once with about 15 to go or so. Pretty dumb move right there, too, but I was the smarter one racing for points, lifted, could have wrecked him, but didn't. It just sucks they are going to have to start building some more race cars because he has got a few coming," he said.
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