Part 2: 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 was posted last week. You can read it here as it detailed the races between July 9th and August 7th. This post will cover the last four races before the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins.

 Bristol Motor Speedway – 7:00 PM CT on Saturday, August 20 on NBCSN

The Busch Brothers are big fans of Bristol, both winning five races at the short track. Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth both have four victories at Bristol while Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano each have two. Logano and Edwards have combined for four victories in the last five races at Bristol.

                Contenders: Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards and Joey Logano.

Wildcard: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Bristol is Stenhouse Jr.’s best track based on his average finish of 11.86. While Stenhouse Jr. finished 16th and 21st in his last two races at Bristol, he finished in the top six in the three races before that.

Michigan International Speedway – 1:00 PM CT on Sunday, August 28 on NBCSN

Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch both have three victories in Michigan. Chase Elliott finished second at Michigan in June, his best finish in his rookie year so far. Carl Edwards has run remarkably well at Michigan with an average finish of 9.5 in 24 career races including two wins and 17 Top-10 finishes.

                Contenders: Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards and Chase Elliott.

Wildcard: Based on his last five finishes at Michigan, you’d probably be surprised to hear Greg Biffle has four career wins at Michigan. Despite his career-best 13.11 average finish at Michigan, he’s finished 19th or worse in four of his last five starts at Michigan.

Darlington Raceway – 5:00 PM CT on Sunday, September 4 on NBC

Mark Darlington down as just another one of the tracks that Jimmie Johnson has dominated. In 17 career starts at Darlington, he has three wins, nine Top5 and 12 Top-10 finishes. Denny Hamlin is the only other driver with a better average finish at Darlington (6.5). Hamlin has five Top5 and eight Top-10 finishes along with a win in 10 career starts.

                Contenders: Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin.

Wildcard: Ryan Newman. Newman has 17 starts at Darlington with an average finish of 12.18. He’s finished in the Top 10 in five of his last seven races at Darlington. Newman currently sits at 14th in the Sprint Cup Driver Standings. Darlington could be the race that decides his Chase fate.

Richmond International Raceway – 6:30 PM CT on Saturday, September 10 on NBCSN

The last race before the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup begins should provide great drama for everyone involved. Of active drivers, 14 have wins at Richmond and 10 have multiple victories. Kyle Busch leads the pack with four wins in his 22 career starts at Richmond. Of race tracks Kyle Busch has double digit starts at, Richmond is his best track with an average finish of 6.86. Richmond is one of three tracks he has more than 1,000 laps led. His 15 Top-5 finishes are the most at any track (he has 10 Top-5 finishes at four other tracks).  

Kyle Busch aside, there are still plenty of drivers who race well at Richmond that have already won this year. Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch all have multiple wins at Richmond. Additionally, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski both have wins at the track and have an average finish of 4.6 and 8.2 respectively in their last five races at Richmond.

If Dale Earnhardt Jr. still hasn’t made the Chase at this point, he’s also a driver to look for as he has three career wins at Richmond. Earnhardt Jr. won the NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Richmond earlier this year.

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

Wildcard: Clint Bowyer. Richmond is another track that Bowyer has performed well at. Bowyer has two wins at Richmond, with his most recent win coming in 2012. Despite his poor finish at Richmond in April, he had finished in the Top 10 in his previous three races at the short track.

Make sure you tune-in to NBCSN this Sunday at 12:30 PM CT for the New Hampshire 301!

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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