1. The battle to get into NASCAR's Chase for the Cup remains as tight as ever. Twelve drivers qualify for the 10-race playoff: the top 10 in points after 26 races along with two wild-card drivers who have the most wins among those 11th to 20th in points. With five races left until the Chase starts, only 15 points separate Tony Stewart in 11th place, Brad Keselowski (12th), Kurt Busch (13th) and Martin Truex Jr. (14th). But only Stewart and Truex have wins so far this season.

2. Look for the "race to the Chase" get even tighter this weekend. The Sprint Cup Series next heads to the curvy road course in Watkins Glen, N.Y., where anything can happen. The race also is a solid chance for Stewart — who's aiming for his fourth Cup title — to solidify his Chase chances. Stewart has the track record of five wins at Watkins Glen.

3. Jeff Gordon still Chase-worthy, but it's tenuous. His teammate Kasey Kahne won at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, but Gordon finished second on Gordon's 42nd birthday, so Gordon is ninth in the standings as he seeks a fifth title. But Gordon is only three points ahead of 10th-place Greg Biffle. At the moment, Gordon can't afford to fall out of the top 10 because he hasn't won yet this season.

4. Dale Earnhardt is treading water, which is good for now. Earnhardt, another teammate of Gordon's and Kahne's at Hendrick Motorsports, put in another solid fifth-place finish at Pocono to keep himself fifth in the Cup standings. But assuming he makes the Chase, can Earnhardt do any better than fifth in the playoff as well? After all, he hasn't won yet this season.

5. Charlie Kimball finally gets his first IndyCar victory. The driver from Camarillo became the fourth first-time winner in the Izod IndyCar Series this year with his victory at the Mid-Ohio road course in Lexington, Ohio. "Fantastic job," tweeted Dario Franchitti, the four-time champion and Kimball's teammate at Chip Ganassi Racing. Simon Pagenaud was second and Franchitti finished third.

 

ALSO:

These brokers deal in sports tickets -- and risk

Philadelphia Eagles' Matt Barkley has that out-of-pocket feeling

Why do USC players like Clancy Pendergast? '52' is just the start