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Only four races remain before the 12-driver lineup is set for the Sprint Cup Chase for the Championship, NASCAR’s version of the playoffs.

For a few drivers, things are getting a little too close for comfort. Last week’s race on the road course at Watkins Glen shuffled the standings quite a bit with the biggest loser being Jeff Gordon, who fell four positions, down to 13.

Because Gordon doesn’t have any wins on the year, if the Chase started today, he would miss it. What’s the most surprising about his tumble is it came on a road course, the type of track he’s dominated over his career – the all-time NASCAR leader with nine wins.

The biggest beneficiaries of Gordon’s poor performance were Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr., and Ryan Newman. Keselowski moved into eighth in points with his second-place finish – his third straight runner-up at The Glen. Truex Jr. moved into tenth with a third-place finish.

With Gordon out of the top 10, Newman (No. 14 in points) moves into position to take the final wild card spot given to the higher ranking driver in points who has the most wins.

With four races to go, we can expect a few of these drivers like Gordon or Kurt Busch, who sits 11th in points with no wins, to go all out. The problem is neither drive Roush Ford, the type of car that has been the most dominant at Michigan over the years.

Greg Biffle has won the past two races at Michigan and should be considered one of the favorites again. He’s won four times on the 2-mile sister track of Fontana. Carl Edwards is a two-time winner at Michigan and has the best average finish (8.2) among all active drivers.

One of the strangest oddities about Michigan is that Jimmie Johnson has never won there. This is a very fast track, and the type Johnson should have compiled lofty numbers as on every other fast track in the series. He’s dominated at Fontana, a track that is almost identical to Michigan, but hasn’t been able to win despite leading countless laps there, including 18 laps in the June race.

We don’t get to see Dale Earnhardt Jr. win too much anymore, but Michigan is a place where his chances increase. The last two wins of his career have come at Michigan (2008, 2011).

Kevin Harvick won in 2010 and finished second behind Biffle in the June race. Harvick has been sneaky good in races where no one expects him to do anything. He’s got two wins on the season and has an average finish of 13th in his last 20 starts at Michigan.

Kyle Busch finished fourth in June and has a 2011 win to his credit. He is an interesting choice to win this week and also the Sprint Cup title at 6-1 odds. We’ve seen him wilt down the stretch before during better seasons, but his team looks dialed in and ready to make a run.

Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Follow Micah on Twitter @MicahRoberts7 Contact Micah at [email protected].

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