With the new Chase system, someone may very well become the fifth this weekend.
Only four times in the ten year history of NASCAR's Chase has a driver gone into the regular season finale at Richmond on the outside looking in, and actually made the cut.
Jeremy Mayfield went into Richmond in what would roughly be around 14 points out with today's system. He managed to win the race and jump from 14th to ninth in the championship standings.
Ryan Newman was a single point out, and that was with the old system mind you. A decent 12th place result allowed him to displace Jamie McMurray.
It was Kasey Kahne's turn this year. After trying to roughly translate the margin into today's points system, he was about seven or eight points out. A strong run that saw him finish third bolted him into the Chase, thus knocking three-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart out.
The final year it happened was half a decade ago. Brian Vickers and Red Bull Racing pulled off a remarkable upset, pushing Kyle Busch out with an incredibly hard-fought seventh place finish. The rough translation puts the deficit to around five points going into that race.
It's worth noting that just last year, an astonishing drive by Ryan Newman saw him charge his way to victory and into the Chase before a late-race caution destroyed his chances. Martin Truex Jr. ended up being the one who raced his way into the Chase in what was immediately widely considered one of the most exciting finishes to the regular season since the Chase was implemented.
That is, until the Michael Waltrip Racing that quickly followed. Ryan Newman was placed back into the Chase, but since it was done by NASCAR and not the actual outcome of the race, it doesn't technically count in this rundown.
Clint Bowyer is the closest to the Chase on points, but is still 23 markers out, more than any of the four who raced their way in. There's a catch in 2014 though...there's still 18 other drivers with a shot and that's because of the new win-and-you're-in policy. This raises the chances of someone racing their way in exponentially.