NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Gregg Biffle and Ryan Newman made the Chase coming out of the race weekend at Richmond. Both drivers were able to make the sixteen driver Sprint Cup Championship Chase field during the last race of the regular season.
Now the question is if they have a legitimate shot at winning during the ten race chase to end the season?
If you look at the numbers one of the strongest drivers coming into the final ten chase races is Gregg Biffle. Over the course of the last several weeks the driver of the No. 16 3M Safety Ford has proven his worth by finishing in the top ten several times. Biffle’s team has improved over the course of the season but he says that there’s room to get better following Richmond.
"The last five races, we scored almost more points than anyone with five top-10s in a row, and were looking really strong," Biffle said. "We felt like we would come here and run top-10 easy, and clearly that wasn't the case. It just caught us off guard and I'll admit it. We felt like we're ready for the Chase. We still do. We're just going to go back and look at what we did wrong and not make that mistake in the Chase."
The other driver breathing a bit easier following Richmond is Ryan Newman who made the chase with Biffle. Both drivers enter the field without having a win on the season. In Newman’s case the driver has had a solid season despite a couple of burps including a massive wreck at the Glen. If you take out that race and look at Newman’s stats it’s easy to see that he may well be a factor in the first portion of the chase.
"We've had good race cars," Newman said. "We've been consistent; I think that'll pay off at points, but just the opportunity to be in this position all over again is a lot of fun. That's what I strive for every year is to be a champion. Winning races is good, but being a champion is what the big picture is all about."
Newman finished up the NASCAR Sprint Cup regular season with the eighth spot in the standings. It’s obvious that he has the tools needed to move forward in the chase as he was the highest-ranked driver without a victory. Newman says that he’s excited about getting in the Chase this season by driving!
"Yeah, drama avoided me this time," said Newman, in his first year driving for Childress. "... It's a good spot to be after what we've been through the last 365 days. It's something I look forward to, these next 10 races. Everybody ... and the guys in the pits have done a good job of stepping up, but we've got to step up again, again, and then again, and hopefully we're in a good spot at Homestead."
Can they Make it?
The overriding question for both Biffle and Newman is if their performance over the course of the regular season will translate into moving forward during the first round of the Sprint Cup Chase. The good news for both drivers is that the new format may fit their driving perfectly!
Both drivers finish strong, both tend to avoid big wrecks and issues on a regular basis. Sure, both have been involved in wrecks and had a few things go wrong over the course of the season. But that’s over an entire season. Now we’re talking about three races to finish strong while not having a major issue.
While anything can happen on the track I still can say that Biffle and Newman have just as much of a chance as any of the Chase drivers. And at least during the first couple of rounds their chances may even be better!