In each of the first two seasons of the elimination Chase format, two drivers who were seeded Nos. 13-16 advanced to the Round of 12. With the gap between No. 5 and No. 13 tighter than ever, there’s little room for error for the drivers seeded Nos. 5-8 in the opening round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Now we ask you, the fans, which of these four drivers has the highest chance of falling out of a top-12 spot and failing to advance to the Round of 12?
Each of the four drivers seeded Nos. 5-8 have two victories in the regular season but enter the Chase-opener at Chicagoland with very different levels of momentum.
Jimmie Johnson enters the Chase in the ninth spot but both of his victories came in the first five races of the season. Since then, the six-time champion has seen plenty of struggles and enters the Chase almost two months removed from his last top-5 finish.
Matt Kenseth should have the most confidence entering the first round of the Chase as he won the regular-season races at New Hampshire and Dover, the second and third races of the opening round.
Martin Truex Jr. brings the most recent momentum of the four drivers with a win two weeks ago in the Southern 500 and one of the strongest cars throughout the race at Richmond.
Finally, Carl Edwards brings a lot of uncertainity about which way his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota is going.
He struggled at Dover and New Hampshire in the regular season. Mix in four top-10s with four finishes outside the top 20 in the past ten races and you have to wonder which version of Edwards shows up in the Chase.
That’s what we’ve seen in the weeks heading into the Chase. Now, you make the call.