Now What? A Look At The 2012 NASCAR Chase Picture After Atlanta

With just one race remaining until NASCAR's Chase field is set, nine spots of the 12 playoff spots are already clinched heading into the final regular-season race at Richmond.

But after Sunday night's Atlanta race, there's still much to be decided about which drivers will compete for the championship.

Here's a look at the Chase picture after the Atlanta results:

Top nine are all good

The following drivers clinched spots in the Chase top 10 after Atlanta: Matt Kenseth, Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick.

Greg Biffle, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson already clinched top-10 positions last week.

Final spot in the top 10 still available

Tony Stewart is just 18 points ahead of Kasey Kahne for the final spot in the top 10, and even Kyle Busch could still take a top-10 position if Stewart has trouble. Busch is 23 points behind Stewart, so if the defending champ is involved in some kind of early wreck, that top-10 spot could be up for grabs.

Stewart would still make the Chase as a wild card if he fell out, but his three victories wouldn't count toward the playoffs. Plus, it could have an impact on the wild card picture for other drivers (see below).

Wild Card No. 1

Kasey Kahne has not clinched a wild card spot yet. Why? Because if Stewart falls out of the top 10 and Jeff Gordon wins at Richmond, Gordon could theoretically move ahead of Kahne in the wild card standings. Meanwhile, Stewart's wild card would come with three wins, so he'd have the No. 1 spot and Kahne would be gone.

But that's fairly unlikely, and Kahne is the heavy favorite to get one of the wild cards heading into Richmond.

Wild Card No. 2

Here's where it gets really tricky, so let's break it down by driver:

Kyle Busch is in the best position because he's 12 points ahead of Gordon for the final wild card spot and already has a win. So he'd make the Chase if he just finishes in the top 10 while none of the other one-win drivers go to Victory Lane, or he could be in if he just won himself. And he's really good at Richmond.

Jeff Gordon needs to either finish 13 points ahead of Busch (who has the tiebreaker) and hope none of the other one-win guys go to Victory Lane. Or he could just win the race and get in that way.

Ryan Newman, Marcos Ambrose and Joey Logano all need to win the race. Win, and they're likely in. No need to worry about points, really.

Carl Edwards is fairly screwed despite being 14th in the standings. He needs to not only win at Richmond, but he also needs to make up 26 points on Busch and 14 points on Gordon. It's a very tall order.

Paul Menard can only get in if he wins and the track opens up and swallows the No. 18 and No. 24 cars. But it's still mathematically possible, unless I calculated wrong.

Everyone else is eliminated, including top-20 drivers like Jamie McMurray and Jeff Burton.

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