Part 1: A look at the final nine Sprint Cup Series races and impact on the Chase

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With nine races left before the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup begins, there are still plenty of spots available for drivers but time is quickly running out.  Eleven drivers have wins which leaves five spots currently up for grabs. Unfortunately for those vying for those five spots, many of the drivers with wins consistently have strong performances at the remaining tracks.

Part one of this series will take a look at the first five of the remaining nine races and who performs well at the tracks.

Kentucky Speedway – 6:30 PM CT on Saturday, July 9 on NBCSN

Kentucky Speedway has hosted five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at the track, starting in 2011. Both Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski have won two races each with Matt Kenseth picking up the other win. Additionally, Keselowski has won three NASCAR XFINITY Series races at Kentucky. After Keselowski broke the streak of eight different drivers winning the previous eight weeks in the Sprint Cup Series, don’t be surprised if he picks up his second straight win and his fourth of the season. Joey Logano is another driver who has raced well at Kentucky in the NASCAR XFINITY Series with three wins and he’s had three top-10 finishes in the Sprint Cup Series.

                Contenders: Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano.

Wildcard: Jimmie Johnson. Kentucky is one of four tracks Johnson doesn’t have a win at. However, he’s always finished in the Top 10. 

New Hampshire Motor Speedway – 12:30 PM CT on Sunday, July 17 on NBCSN

On the opposite end of the spectrum, New Hampshire has hosted quite a few Sprint Cup races. Of active drivers, 15 have won Sprint Cup Series races at the Magic Mile. Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman have won three races each at New Hampshire while Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch have each won two.

                Contenders: Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth.

Wildcard: Clint Bowyer. A quarter of Bowyer’s eight wins in the Sprint Cup Series have come at New Hampshire. If he’s going to pick up a win in 2016, New Hampshire is a great opportunity.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway – 2:00 PM CT on Sunday, July 24 on NBCSN

Indianapolis is another track that Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart have raced very well at and they’re the only two active drivers with multiple wins at the track (Johnson with four, Stewart with two). Kyle Busch has also raced well at Indy. He’s finished in the Top 10 in each of his last six races at the Speedway, including two runner-ups and one win in his last four races.

Contenders: Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart.

Wildcard: Joey Logano. Logano has yet to win at Indy but he has four Top-10 finishes in seven races there.

Pocono Raceway -- 12:30 PM CT on Sunday, July 31 on NBCSN

Dale Earnhardt Jr. most likely has this race circled on his calendar. In his last five races at Pocono, he has an average finish of 3.8 with two wins. Since 2011, he’s only finished outside of the Top 10 twice (11th in June 2015 and 32nd in August 2012). Nine active drivers have multiple wins at Pocono with Denny Hamlin leading the way with four wins with Kurt Busch, Bobby Labonte and Jimmie Johnson winning three races each.

                Contenders: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson.

Wildcard: Chase Elliott. Elliott is the only driver in the Top 11 of the driver standings without a win. The rookie finished fourth at Pocono on June 5th and a win would solidify his spot as the Rookie of the Year.

Watkins Glen International – 1:30 PM CT on Sunday, August 7 on USA Network

If Tony Stewart doesn’t pick up his 50th career NASCAR win in Indianapolis, it would make sense if he does it at Watkins Glen, with five of his 49 wins coming at the track. The only other active driver with multiple wins at Watkins Glen is Kyle Busch. Joey Logano, who is the most recent winner at The Glen, and A.J. Allmendinger, the winner of the 2015 pole and winner of the 2014 race, are both qualified to join the multiple win club.

                Contenders: Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, A.J. Allmendinger and Joey Logano.

Wildcard: Kevin Harvick. Harvick hasn’t won a road course race since Watkins Glen in August of 2006. However, he’s finished in the top seven in each of his last four road course races.

Part two of this post will be up next week detailing the final four races before the Chase for the Sprint Cup Series begins. Make sure you tune-in to NBCSN this Saturday at 6:30 PM CT for the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway.

The Chase for the Sprint Cup Series begins on September 18th at Chicagoland Speedway. Kansas Speedway hosts the fifth race in the Chase on October 16th. Tickets are currently on sale for the Hollywood Casino 400 and can be purchased online at WWW.KANSASSPEEDWAY.COM or by calling 866.460.7233.

 

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