While there might be several drivers still mathematically capable of winning the championship, only two are still logically in the running: Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth. With just seven points separating the two, only bad luck will stop the championship from coming down to the final race at Homestead.
Of course, it was bad luck at Phoenix that knocked Johnson off the top last year after he had won at Texas. This year, fresh off another win at Texas, he'll be on alert to try and avoid the same ill fate. It's a track where he's been dominant over the years and Kenseth has not. However, the No. 20 has found a new ability on the short, flat tracks, like New Hampshire and Martinsville, and that will make Kenseth competitive this weekend.
Even though the championship is down to two, there will still be a full, 43-car field (as always). From a Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing standpoint, that means that owners must step back from the championship hunt that's going on and look at the field as a whole. Here's a peak at who might put up a good week:
Phoenix International Raceway is unique from the standpoint that it hosts the second and 35th races of the Sprint Cup Series season, which means that the gap between seasons is actually much shorter than the gap between the two races in the same season. The drivers have been to this track, but it's been quite sometime, and they've learned a lot about the Generation Six car in that span. The track itself is a one-mile oval that was recently reconfigured with a little more banking than NHMS, but it's still the track on the circuit that most similarly resembles the Magic Mile in Loudon.
It's the time of year when teams might be trying something for 2014, so that makes it a little harder to take a driver's history at face value. Johnson and Kenseth are the only two that are really still points racing, so everyone else needs to do their best to prepare for next year. Keep in mind how horrible Johnson was between the time he clinched the Chase and the time it started. His team was clearly working on some things and didn't care about their actual finishing position; many teams could be taking a similar approach over the last two races.
It's pretty simple at this point as there are only two races to go. Start the best drivers that you still have available. Those starts are "use it or lose it," and you don't get any bonus points for left over starts on Johnson, Kyle Busch or Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (the top performers on each of the three respective lists).
Drivers are listed by car number and not necessarily in rank order.
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