Who can win the Chase and how?

Jimmie Johnson doesn't have the NASCAR Chase for the Nextel Cup locked up yet. While he is clearly the favorite, history is not on Johnson's side heading into the season finale on Sunday. The No. 48 Hendrick Chevrolet team has a habit of coming...

Jimmie Johnson doesn't have the NASCAR Chase for the Nextel Cup locked up yet. While he is clearly the favorite, history is not on Johnson's side heading into the season finale on Sunday.

The No. 48 Hendrick Chevrolet team has a habit of coming slightly unglued at the end of the season; missing their opportunity to emerge the champions. Whether or not they can calm those demons this weekend remains to be seen. But Johnson is well aware of what needs to happen for him to get the big check in New York.

Conversely, the rest of the top five has also been briefed as to where they need to be on the final lap of the Ford 400 should something happen to the No. 48 Chevy.

Here's how it breaks down:

Jimmie Johnson Johnson needs a finish of 12th or better if he doesn't lead a lap If he leads at least one lap, he needs to finish 13th If he leads the most laps, a 15th place finish will do

Matt Kenseth
Kenseth needs to win the race and lead the most laps And Johnson needs to finish 13th or worse and not lead any laps

Kevin Harvick
Needs to win the race and lead the most laps and have Johnson finish 22nd or worse and lead no laps. Kenseth would need to finish fourth or worse and lead no laps.

Denny Hamlin
Win the race and lead the most laps and have Johnson finish 22nd or worse and lead no laps and have Kenseth finish fourth or worse and not lead a lap.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Needs to win the race and lead the most laps and have Johnson finish 30th or worse and lead no laps, Kenseth finishes 10th or worse and lead no laps and Harvick and Hamlin both need to finish fourth or worse with neither leading a lap.

"There is a lot of 'what ifs' out there," said Johnson. "I know what I can control and my team can control but it's the things we can't control that will decide this thing."

Basically, it will be the person who gets lucky enough to stay out of trouble and avoid all the pitfalls on the racetrack that will be crowned the 2006 series champion.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Matt Kenseth , Kevin Harvick , Jimmie Johnson , Denny Hamlin