Also now locks for the Chase are Hendrick Motorsports duo Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne has a strong hold on the first of the two "most wins" wild card spots, but Jeff Gordon is looking increasingly set to be the man left on the outside looking in.
"I'm really proud of this whole race team and am so very proud that we clinched today and am glad that we locked-down the Chase," said Johnson. "That's something that I'm very proud of. We've made it each year. And now it's time to get to work."
"We worked real hard all season and I want to thank my guys," said Earnhardt, having his best season in 2012 in years. They do a good job every week and give me good strategy."
Despite his run in with Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth is also now certain of a Chase spot: even it's not yet a lock on points, at worst he would take one of the wild cards.
"That's one of your goals at the start of the season," said Kenseth. "You can't win the championship without being in the Chase, so I'm happy to be there. It's been a rough four out of five weeks, for sure, so I wish we'd had a better ending tonight."
At present the second wild card spot is held by Kyle Busch, thanks to Ryan Newman's early misfortune at Bristol. However, Busch knows it's a tenuous hold on a Chase spot and could easily be lost in the final two two outings at Atlanta and Richmond before he can breath easy.
Full race results
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