Roush Fenway drivers Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth believe it will be difficult to get back in NASCAR Sprint Cup title contention as they sit at the bottom of the Chase points standings ahead of Sunday's race at Talladega.
Biffle led the points for most of the regular season but has not enjoyed a strong start to the Chase. His best result thus far is a 13th-place finish at Chicagoland, which was followed by lackluster runs top-20 runs at Loudon and Dover. When a loose wheel spoiled his Dover race, Biffle suggested the issue could have wrecked his title bid.
The former Nationwide and Truck series champion says his realistic target now is to finish top-five in the points. Although mathematically he is still in title contention, he does not see how he can overcome a 51-point deficit.
"I feel we're racing for a top-five finish in the points," said Biffle, currently 11th in the standings. "I have to finish roughly seven spots in front of [Brad] Keselowski for seven races straight to beat him. So every racetrack we go to I've got to finish at least that far ahead of him from here to Homestead.
"Now, he could have a disastrous day and you leapfrog a bunch – maybe 25 points, which is three races' worth – but you've still got four more races where you have to finish seven spots ahead of him - and then you're only even. That might seem like something that's pretty far out there, but we'll do our best and see what happens in the end."
2003 Cup champion Matt Kenseth, who is set to leave Roush Fenway Racing at the end of the season, is currently last in the Chase standings, after his title bid got off to a rocky start due to a broken damper at Chicagoland. Last week at Dover Kenseth suffered two incidents due to mechanical issues that ended up placing him 72 points away from the Chase lead after only three races.
Although Talladega could provide an opportunity for him to recover from a poor start to the play-off, the two-time Daytona 500 winner believes the gap is already too big and his rivals are proving too strong and consistent to allow him to make any big gains.
"We've got to have a big swing," said Kenseth. "We've got to lead some laps and probably win or run in the top two or three, and the guys up in front of the points have to have problems and finish way back.
"We've got to have a big swing in the points to realistically be back in it because once you leave here being back that far, even if we get our program really turned around and can run in the top three or four every week, those guys are going to run in the top six or seven every week and it's hard to gain that many points."