Sunday afternoon's race at Kansas Speedway is the last in the Round of 12, and four drivers will be eliminated from the field.
Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski are the only two drivers who are locked into the Round of 8 after their wins over the last two weeks, and Kyle Larson only needs 34 points to advance. He's the only driver who can likely feel comfortable advancing without a win, though nothing is guaranteed.
Kevin Harvick needs 41 points to advance, while Denny Hamlin needs 42 and Chase Elliott needs 43. Ryan Blaney, who is currently seventh in the points, needs 53 points to move on to the next round.
Jimmie Johnson can clinch a spot if an already clinched driver wins on Sunday and he earns 49 points. Otherwise, he'll need to outrace other drivers on the bubble.
As it stands now, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Jamie McMurray are on the outside looking in and will be eliminated unless they improve. The only way they can automatically clinch a spot is if they win the race.
Now that you have the scenarios in mind, here are our predictions for who advances into the Round of 8.
Truex and Keselowski are locks, and Larson and Harvick would need disastrous races to be eliminated. We'll take those four comfortably into the next round, and we'll also take Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott to make it without having to sweat too much.
That leaves two spots for only six drivers. McMurray and Stenhouse are the last two in the standings, and we don't think they'll make it into the next round. So that leaves Blaney, Johnson, Busch and Kenseth.
Busch has had a rough two races in the last two weeks, but he also won the previous two races. Racing at Kansas bodes well for drivers with top speed, and Busch has had one of the fastest cars of any driver this season. So not only are we picking Busch to advance to the next round... we're taking him to win on Sunday.
So the last spot will be between Blaney, Johnson and Kenseth. Despite Johnson's struggles to earn stage points, it's hard to pick against the seven-time champion. We'll pick him to advance one more round at least, and we just trust him to figure it out at Kansas -- a track where he's won three times in his career.
So, the eight drivers we are picking to advance are Truex, Keselowski, Larson, Harvick, Hamlin, Elliott, Busch and Johnson.
That leaves Kenseth, Blaney, Stenhouse Jr., and McMurray out.