Commentary

The Bubble Boys: Sharpie 500

The Bubble Boys: Sharpie 500

Updated: August 26, 2007, 8:20 AM ET
By Joe Breeze | ESPN.com

Here's what we know about this year's Chase for the Nextel Cup:

• Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards are in.

• Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Burton will make the Chase simply by starting the next two events.

• There are two races left to decide the Chase field (California Speedway and Richmond International Raceway).

• And Earnhardt Nation still is in serious trouble.

How did the drivers on the Chase bubble fare Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway?

Martin Truex Jr.

11. Martin Truex Jr.
Position before race -- 11
Chase points safety margin -- 166
Breakdown -- Junior's DEI teammate saw his points cushion shrink by 30 after an 11th-place run at Thunder Valley -- his third straight top-15 effort. Still, with just two races before the Chase, Truex is nearly a lock.

Kurt Busch

12. Kurt Busch
Position before race -- 12
Chase points safety margin -- 158
Breakdown -- With seven consecutive top-15 finishes -- including a sixth at Bristol -- Busch has a stranglehold on the No. 12 spot. He lost a measley five points Saturday night to No. 13 Dale Earnhardt Jr. And speaking of Junior ...

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

13. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Position before race -- 13
Points out of Chase -- 158
Breakdown -- Dale Jr. is simply running out of time. He inched five points closer to the Chase cutoff with a fifth-place showing at Bristol, but he needs a lot of help -- too much help.

Ryan Newman

14. Ryan Newman
Position before race -- 14
Points out of Chase -- 175
Breakdown -- Newman finished a respectable seventh on Saturday and still lost ground, falling another four points behind the final Chase spot.

Joe Breeze is a motorsports editor at ESPN.com. He can be reached at Joe.M.Breeze@espn3.com.