Logano wins race at Bristol, but others had winning nights, too

Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, could not hold off Joey Logano for the race win at Bristol but Kenseth did help improve his chances of making the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

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Joey Logano wasn’t the only big winner Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.

While Logano won the Irwin Tools Night Race at the 0.533-mile oval, Matt Kenseth (3rd) and Ryan Newman (13th) got some good news, too.

With 24 of 26 races complete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular season, 12 different drivers have won races so far. That means even if there are first-time winners next week at Atlanta and again the following week at Richmond, there will be no more than 14 different winners in the regular season. And that’s a huge help for Kenseth and Newman.

After the Richmond race, the field will be set for the 10-race, season-ending Chase for the Sprint Cup. The 16-driver Chase field will consist of drivers who have won races in the regular season, along with the nonwinners who are highest in points.

Right now, the Chase field consists of 12 drivers who have won races and the top four winless drivers in points:

Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano have three race victories each.

Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards have two victories each.

Full house: Roush Fenway Racing puts all three drivers in the top 10 at Bristol

Kyle Busch, Aric Almirola, Kurt Busch, AJ Allmendinger and Denny Hamlin have one win each.

Of the winless drivers, Kenseth has the most points, with 751. Newman is next (710), followed  by Clint Bowyer (699) and Greg Biffle (694). With two races to go, those are the four drivers who would make the Chase on points. By virtue of his points total, Kenseth is a virtual lock to make the Chase, no matter what happens in the final two regular-season races.

On the outside looking in after Bristol are Kyle Larson, who is 26 points behind Biffle for the final transfer spot, Kasey Kahne (-33) and Austin Dillon (-40).

Of course, all that could go out the window if there are one or two new winners in the next two weeks. But for every winless racer behind Biffle in points right now, it’s pretty much win or miss the Chase, go or go home.

VIDEO: Matt Kenseth talks about coming home in third at Bristol