For the second week in a row in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series, the leader of the race ran out of gas, getting passed and losing on an empty tank.
This time it was Joey Logano and Kyle Busch who took advantage, finishing 1-2 at Watkins Glen in New York as Kevin Harvick ran out of gas. It was the exact opposite of the previous week, when Logano and Busch were running 1-2 at Pocono in Pennsylvania, but both ran out of gas, giving up their chance at a win.
Also for the second week in a row, title contender Kasey Kahne crashed and finished way back. His 42nd place at Watkins Glen was actually an improvement from his dead-last 43rd at Pocono.
Being last and second to last in successive weeks is not how you qualify for the Chase, NASCAR's version of the playoffs. Just two weeks ago he was sitting pretty at a 77 percent chance of making it, but with these two terrible weeks, he has dropped far—down to a measly 12 percent.
Contrast that to last week's numbers, when Kahne still had a good shot of making it back in, at 40 percent. One wreck he could handle, two is too much. Remember the Chase starts Sunday, Sept. 20.
Kahne's teammate, Jeff Gordon, didn't fare much better. Gordon finished 41st at Watkins Glen, and has seen his Chase chances slide ever so subtly to 94 percent, down from 99 percent. There are only four races to go to decide who makes it in. Sixteen drivers will make it—and everybody else will be out. Kahne's only realistic chance of getting in is by winning one of the next four races. He's been able to sneak in that way in past years, so it's more than just theoretically doable.
If not, he'll be the biggest name driver to lose out. That would be a disappointment compared to drivers like Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard, Clint Bowyer and Ryan Newman, who have generally not had the same level of career success as Kahne—yet all four of them are on track to crack the Chase despite being winless this season.