Baltimore Sun

Call it the chase before the Chase

It's shaping up to be a wild ride as NASCAR heads into the last two regular-season races (Atlanta, Sunday night) and Richmond (Sept. 10) before the 12-driver field is set for the Chase.

Five guys are in: Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick, who, along with Jeff Gordon, can clinch a top-10 spot with a finish of at least 40th; or 41st and at least one lap led; or 42nd and the most laps led in Atlanta.


Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch look solid too. Then it gets a little dicey for the last four slots.

Any driver who has a 49-point lead over 11th place after the Atlanta race clinches a top-10 Chase spot. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is 39 points ahead of 11th and Tony Stewart is 21 points ahead, so both are looking fairly solid.


With three victories, Brad Keselowski is a lock to get in, at the very least with a wild-card slot. That will leave Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, among others, jockeying for the last slot. Stay tuned.

Kentucky parking woes: Despite a rather non-consumer-friendly response to the parking chaos at Kentucky Speedway earlier this year, Speedway Motorsports CEO Bruton Smith finally figured out that annoying thousands of paying customers isn't a good thing.

The company has announced that it has acquired a 143-acre parcel of land that will be used to expand speedway parking. In addition, professional parking and engineering services professionals will be brought in to manage traffic flow during race events.

The expansion is expected to increase available event parking by 35 percent.

Junior, Hendrick close to deal: Look for Earnhardt to sign an extension of his NASCAR Sprint Cup contract with Hendrick Motorsports soon.

"I feel pretty good where I am at and really happy who I am working with," Earnhardt told Fox Sports recently. "You have to be comfortable in your work environment."

The new contract is expected to last through the 2017 season.

Snooki sighting: In a sobering sign that the apocalypse is here, Snooki of the TV show "Jersey Shore" will be waving the green flag as the starter for the race in Richmond. Apparently, Octomom Nadya Suleman wasn't available.

George Diaz