Earnhardt is the only race winner from last season who hasn't captured a checkered flag in 2016. With just six open Chase berths and 11 races remaining until NASCAR's playoffs, drivers with a "0" in the wins column have to play the risky game of selling out for victory or maintaining a strong points position. If a driver goes for the win and wrecks or runs out of fuel, he/she could fall out of the Chase points positions. In contrast, a driver could go for the safe points finish and get jumped by a new winner outside the Chase Grid.
The winless drivers who would make the Chase on points today are Chase Elliott (100 points above the cutoff), Dale Earnhardt Jr (+30), Austin Dillon (+28), Jamie McMurray (+21), Ryan Newman (+16) and Ryan Blaney (+11). Elliott and Blaney would become the second and third Sunoco Rookies to ever make NASCAR's playoffs. Denny Hamlin earned a Chase berth in his first full-time season (2006). Third-year competitor Austin Dillon would also take the wheel for his first Chase.
The first driver on the outside of the Chase bubble looking in is Kasey Kahne, who lurks 11 points behind Ryan Blaney. Kahne is followed by Trevor Bayne (18th on the Chase Grid, 19 points below Blaney), AJ Allmendinger (19th, -27) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (20th, -27). NASCAR PR