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The Chase for The Chase is on

 

Warning: You are now entering The Chase for The Chase portion of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season.

With just nine races left, the competition to get into the top 12 in owner points is heating up and one of those tracks that could be a wild card for a lot of teams hanging around 12th place is Daytona.

The Coke-Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway tomorrow night could be a Chase changer for many teams.

With the cars running so close to one another because of the horsepower-robbing restrictor plates, this race has the potential to drastically change the hopes of some Chase chasers such as Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is about 300 points out of 12th.

Running well in one race isn't going to get you in The Chase when you are 300 points out like Earnhardt, but running badly in one of the remaining nine races can kill your hopes of getting in -- especially if you crash out of it early, which can happen at Daytona.

Joey Logano's first Cup win last week in New Hampshire marks another race won by fuel mileage management. Fuel mileage and rain-shortened events have played an important role this season and I wouldn't be surprised if either one of those things present themselves again tomorrow night.

Speaking of Logano, if his nickname is Sliced Bread, then does that make his crew chief Greg Zipadelli's new nickname Butter? Because I think that, once Logano gets a year or two under his belt at Joe Gibbs Racing, he and Zipadelli will be JGR's Bread and Butter, if you know what I mean.

It is hard to predict who will be in contention for the win on tomorrow night at Daytona. Let's put it this way, if your favourite driver is running within a half second of the leader on the last lap, then he has a chance to win the race provided that, when he swings out to make the pass, someone goes with him because two cars will run faster than one due to the aerodynamic properties of these racing machines.

Given the pressure to get into the top 12, I would be watching those drivers from about fifth to 20th in the standings. That's where the real racing will be, and I would imagine the fourth of July fireworks display at the end of the race might pale by comparison to the fireworks that could explode on the track between those drivers still in the hunt to make The Chase.