The NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup field has been set. Twelve drivers will now battle for the 2011 title, 10 by virtue of their points position and two that earned a berth through NASCAR's new wild-card spots. So who will be battling for the title this season?
It hasn't been an easy season for Hamlin, but he's back in the Chase for the Sprint Cup once more. Hamlin used his lone win of the season to snare the final wild-card berth in the Chase. He didn't have his best night at Richmond, but it was enough to lock him into the field. Hamlin has one win this season, a year in which he has four top-five finishes and nine top-10.
Getty Images For True Speed CommTodd Warshaw
Keselowski turned a stellar summer run into his first career berth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. With three victories this season, Keselowski earned a wild-card spot in the field. The driver has six top-five and 10 top-10 finishes this season.
Getty Images for NASCARJohn Harrelson
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Earnhardt Jr. kept his fans on the edge of their seats, enduring a problematic night at Richmond before locking into the Chase for the Sprint Cup field. Earnhardt Jr. has nine top-10 finishes this season, three of them top fives.
Getty ImagesJamie Squire
Stewart handily made his way into the Chase, though he waited until the final race of the title-determining segment to lock into the field. Stewart has yet to snare a win this season, but has 11 top-10 finishes, three of them top fives.
Getty Images for NASCARGeoff Burke
Newman grabbed his spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup with his 20th-place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Newman has one win with eight top-five and 13 top-10 finishes this season.
Getty ImagesChris Graythen
Kurt Busch finished fourth at Atlanta Motor Speedway to lock into the field for the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup. The Penske Racing driver has one win this season, with seven top-five and 14 top-10 finishes.
Getty ImagesTodd Warshaw
Five-time Sprint Cup Series champion Johnson and his Hendrick Motorsports team already have begun their quest for a sixth consecutive title. Johnson locked into the Chase-determining field at Bristol. Johnson has one victory this season, but has enjoyed consistency with 17 top-10 finishes, 11 of them top fives.
After leading the standings earlier in the season, Edwards and his Roush Fenway Racing team still handily made the Chase. Edwards locked into the field at Bristol. He has one win this season, with 17 top-10 finishes, 12 of them top fives.
Kenseth and his Roush Fenway Racing team have quietly put together a championship-style season. Kenseth, who locked into the Chase field at Bristol, has two wins this season. He has 14 top-10 finishes, seven of them top fives.
It took a few days after the Bristol night race to be confirmed by NASCAR, but Gordon had secured at least a wild-card spot in the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup. The four-time Cup champion made sure he would be in the top 10 when the Chase started with his victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the 85th win of his career. He has three wins, 10 top-five and 14 top-10 finishes ahead of the start of the this year's title-deciding portion of the season.
Although mired in a midseason slump, Harvick clinched at least a wild-card spot in the Chase with his 22nd-place finish at Bristol. He secured his berth in the top 10 with his seventh-place finish at Atlanta a week later. He finished third in the championship race last year. Then he showed his championship form in winning at Richmond, the final race before the Chase. This season, he has four wins, seven top-five and 13 top-10 finishes.
Busch was the first to snare a bid, locking in to at least one of the two wild-card slots by virtue of his four wins. At Bristol, he joined the group locked in based on their points position. Busch leads the series standings with four wins and a season that includes 16 top-10 finishes, 13 of them top fives.