Their names are Kahne, Montoya, Busch, Martin, Kenseth, Biffle and Reutimann.

And tyre wear isn't foremost on their minds going into Sunday's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.

Although that might put them in the minority after last year's tyre debacle in the annual Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, when you are fighting for a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, you have more pressing matters.

The spread from #8 Kasey Kahne to #14 David Reutimann is 117 points. Kahne is 51 points ahead of 13th-place Greg Biffle, and Reutimann is 76 points behind twelfth-place Matt Kenseth, who holds the last Chase-eligible spot by ten points over Biffle.

"The pressure is on if we want to contend during the Chase," Reutimann said. "I know (we're) capable of getting back in the top twelve and we're very close. Each top-five finish will get us closer to that goal."

Reutimann spent eight weeks in the top twelve early in the season but has been in only once since; he has ranked from eleventh to 15th over the past ten races but always been in the hunt.

Mark Martin has been in and out of the top twelve twice since his first appearance after his victory at Darlington in May. His fourth win of the season -- in the most recent Cup race two weeks ago at Chicagoland -- lifted him from 13th to eleventh but a scant eleven points ahead of Biffle.

"We've definitely accomplished good things this year," said Alan Gustafson, Martin's crew chief. "Winning four races, we're obviously very happy about that. We've just got to keep it up if we want to make the Chase. If we don't make it, I will be really, really disappointed."

Kyle Busch, who is second to Martin in wins with three, is in tenth, 13 points ahead of Biffle. And Juan Pablo Montoya, who finished second at the Brickyard two years ago, is ninth, 36 points inside the top twelve.

by Bill Marx/Sporting News



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