DOVER, Del. — Matt Kenseth has Chase perfection. Kyle Busch nailed the runner-up finishes. And no driver can touch the championship pedigree of Jimmie Johnson.
Led by Kenseth, the top three drivers in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship standings have started to separate themselves from the rest of the field with eight races remaining.
But is the list of contenders set? Have only three drivers out of the 13-car field really emerged as the favorites to win the championship?
Not so fast.
Carl Edwards is lurking in fourth, and Greg Biffle and Kevin Harvick have certainly stamped themselves as drivers who can win races and wrest the top spot away from Kenseth.
“I can’t imagine with eight races to go that somebody would be willing to say, ‘Oh, this is a three-man race,”’ Biffle said.
As the Chase shifts Sunday to Dover, the field knows time is running short to widen the list of contenders. They’ll need that perfect blend of strong finishes and the hope that Kenseth blows an engine or Busch and Johnson wreck. Anything that takes the top drivers out of the checkered flag chase.
Kenseth, who has a series-high seven wins, leads Busch by 14 points and Johnson by 18. Edwards (36 back), Biffle (38), and Harvick (39) are still in the mix.
Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Joey Logano and Kasey Kahne round out the field. For some perspective, Kahne is 71 points behind Kenseth, more than a full race behind the leader.
“I wouldn’t be the one putting my name on the line to say there are only three cars in this hunt right now,” Biffle said. “I wasn’t necessarily saying that for the 16 team. I wasn’t making the case that it’s not a three-man race because of us. I wouldn’t count out Carl Edwards or any of those other guys that are right there in the hunt.”