Grid lock: USA TODAY ranks Chase drivers

As NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup shifts to Round 2, USA TODAY Sports' ranks the remaining 12 drivers and their chances of making it to the eight-driver Round 3:

1. Martin Truex Jr.

Seriously, is there any question about this? Truex is in a league of his own right now, with three wins in the last five races.

2. Brad Keselowski

Quiet and Keselowski don’t usually go together, but he’s flying under the radar despite four straight top-five finishes. But given his history, expect him to be at the center of the Chase -- both in terms of performance and controversies -- before long.

3. Kevin Harvick

‘Happy’ has never been eliminated in the Chase under the new format. There’s no reason to believe he will be this round, either. He has an average finish of 9.6 this season and has been Mr. Consistent.

4. Kyle Busch

The defending champion is fast at Charlotte and won at Kansas in the spring. He should be able to advance, but unpredictable Talladega looms if he hasn't won before that.

5. Joey Logano

We can’t rank the guy who swept this round last year any lower than the top five. Of course, he needs to make sure he doesn't make anyone mad in the process.

6. Chase Elliott

The rookie driver went virtually unnoticed in the first round despite a pair of third-place finishes. He’s fast.

7. Matt Kenseth

Three top-10 finishes to open the Chase, including top-fives the last two weeks.

8. Denny Hamlin

He didn’t need them, but Hamlin didn’t have any top-five finishes in Round 1. What’s up with that? Top-10s alone might not be good enough for him to advance past this round.

9. Jimmie Johnson

If his team stops making mistakes, he’s worthy of a spot in the top five. But we’re still waiting to see that.

10. Carl Edwards

He’s in a Toyota, so he should advance. But his so-so start to the Chase (15th-sixth-14th) is a concern. Will Edwards be the first Toyota driver out?

11. Kurt Busch

It doesn’t feel like he has the same speed as teammate Harvick right now, and someone has to be ranked this low.

12. Austin Dillon

It’s a great underdog story, but Dillon will have to surprise everyone – us included – to advance. He needs to avoid a bad finish in all three races to give himself a shot.

Follow Gluck on Twitter @jeff_gluck

Copyright 2016 WCNC


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