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NASCAR Chase drivers to watch at New Hampshire

Jimmie Johnson will be looking to improve his standing in the points at New Hampshire.

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Jimmie Johnson will be looking to improve his standing in the points at New Hampshire.

Meet the 12 drivers eligible for the Sprint Cup Championship competing in Sunday’s Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H,:

1. Brad Keselowski, Rochester Hills, Mich.

No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge

Penske Racing

4 wins, 11 Top 5s, 16 Top 10s.

2.056 points (1st), $4,728,685.

2012 notables: Vaulted from No. 4 seed to the Chase points lead after recording a victory last Sunday in the first race of Chase at Chicagoland Speedway, giving him four wins on the season. Finished fifth in July’s Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at NHMS.

2. Jimmie Johnson, El Cajon, Calif.

No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet

Hendrick Motorsports

3 wins, 13 Top 5s, 18 Top 10s.

2.053 points (2d); $6,451,140.

2012 notables: Overcame a horrible 42d-place finish at season-opening Daytona 500 to win three races, including one at Darlington that delivered car owner Rick Hendrick his 200th victory. In contention for his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup title.

3. Tony Stewart, Columbus, Ind.

No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet

Stewart Haas Racing

3 wins, 10 Top 5s, 13 Top 10s.

2,048 points (3d); $5,290,265.

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2012 notables: Reigning Sprint Cup champion whose victory in last year’s Sylvania 300 helped propel him to a third NASCAR title. His three victories are tied with Johnson for second-most in the series this season.

4. Denny Hamlin, Chesterfield, Va.

No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota

Joe Gibbs Racing

4 wins, 11 Top 5s, 13 Top 10s.

2,041 points (T-4th), $5,471,142.

2012 notables: Entered the Chase as the top seed after recording back-to-back victories at Bristol and Atlanta. Led 150 of 301 laps, but finished runner-up to Kasey Kahne in July at NHMS after pit road miscommunication resulted in four-tire instead of two-tire pit stop.

5. Kasey Kahne, Enumclaw, Wash.

No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet

Hendrick Motorsports

2 wins, 8 Top 5s, 14 Top 10s.

2,041 points (T-4th), $3,757,976.

2012 notables: Winner of July’s Lennox Industrial Tools 301 at NHMS. Clinched the first of two wild-card berths after finishing 11th in the points, where he remained entrenched the last six regular-season races.

6. Clint Bowyer, Emporia, Kansas

No. 15 5-Hour Energy Toyota

Michael Waltrip Racing

2 wins, 6 Top 5s, 16 Top 10s.

2,041 points (T-4th), $4,118,121.

2012 notables: Made strong surge at end of regular season with victory at Richmond, which set the 12-man field for the Chase. He enters his wheelhouse at NHMS, where he’s won Chase races in 2010 and 2007.

7. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kannapolis, N.C.

No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet

Hendrick Motorsports

1 win, 10 Top 5s, 18 Top 10s.

2,039 (7th); $4,497,185.

2012 notables: Snapped a four-year drought with his victory at Michigan International Speedway in June. Feels confident about winning a championship, which would be the first for NASCAR’s most popular driver and namesake of the late seven-time champion.

8. Greg Biffle, Vancouver, Wash.

No. 16 3M/GE Appliances Ford

Roush Fenway Racing

2 wins, 10 Top 5s, 15 Top 10s.

2,037 points (8th); $4,648,238

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2012 notables: Wound up regular-season as series points leader, but went into Chase as the No. 5 seed. Led points for 11 consecutive races until an 11th-place finish at Dover dropped him to third. Regained points lead with victory at Michigan.

9. Martin Truex Jr., Mayetta, N.J.

No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota

Michael Waltrip Racing

0 wins, 6 Top 5s, 15 Top 10s

2.035 points (9th), $4,127,666.

2012 notables: Truex remained one of two winless drivers to make the Chase. He was seeded 10th after finishing regular season fifth in the points. He came close to winning several times, but his runner-up finish at Kansas ranked as the best result of his 6 top 5s.

10. Kevin Harvick, Bakersfield, Calif.

No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet

Richard Childress Racing

0 wins, 4 Top 5s, 11 Top 10s.

2,032 points (10th), $4,460,917.

2012 notables: Harvick was the other winless driver to make the Chase. Has one win, five top fives, 12 top 10s and one pole in 23 career starts at NHMS. His lone victory at NHMS came in the 2006 Sylvania 300 when he won from the pole position.

11. Matt Kenseth, Cambridge, Wis.

No. 17 Zest Ford

Roush Fenway Racing

1 win, 10 Top 5s, 16 Top 10s.

2,030 points (11th), $5,856,713.

2012 notables: Got off to a rousing start with his second career victory in season-opening Daytona 500; ended regular season eighth in the driver points. Will part ways with Roush Fenway Racing at end of season to drive for Joe Gibbs Racing.

12. Jeff Gordon, Vallejo, Calif.

No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet

Hendrick Motorsports

1 win, 7 top 5s, 12 Top 10s.

2.009 points (12th), $,4,529,995.

2012 notables: Four-time champion fought a heroic battle with back-to-back runner-up finishes in last two races of regular-season at Atlanta and Richmond to clinch the second of two wild-card berths in Chase. Has 3 wins, 15 top fives, 20 top 10s and 3 poles in 35 races at NHMS.

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