Now that the 2013 Chase has been set, the focus will constantly be on those 12 drivers that are going after a championship. But outside of that top-12, there are multiple drivers that could make headlines and spoil the party for the Chase field.
One in particular that could be interesting is the two drivers at Richard Petty Motorsports are both in contract seasons, and these could be the final 10 races they compete for their respective teams.
At the beginning of 2013, both Marcos Ambrose and Aric Almirola signed one-year extensions to be with RPM, in hopes of improving what they had a year ago. During the final 10 races, both had strong runs, and had a couple top-10 finishes each. Almirola outright admitted he had the best car of his entire career at Kansas, where he led the most laps, but a flat tire put him in the wall and destroyed the suspension and motor.
With the season down to the final 10 races, silly season has already seen a lot of moves. Kurt Busch has a new ride at Stewart-Haas, Kyle Larson is taking over the car currently driven by Juan Pablo Montoya, and still looking for a ride is Ryan Newman, despite the ideas that he's going to Richard Childress Racing.
With contracts up after the season ends, Almirola and Ambrose have decisions to make, as does the team. Currently, the RPM drivers sit 18th and 21st in the standings.
Almirola only has one top-five finish this season, along with five top-10 runs, despite having moments that seemed as though he was not only going to run hard, but could win. Ambrose, on the other hand, has only five top-10 finishes this season, despite his closest chance of victory destroyed when he wrecked late at Watkins Glen.
The season has not gone exactly how RPM has wanted, and now with the season nearly over, decisions on whether to keep both drivers, release one or both will need to be made.
Sponsorship as well will be key as to whether both drivers are resigned to their respective teams, but there's always a chance that the lead executives could look at other drivers hoping to move up into Cup, or even those that are looking for a ride. An example is Jeff Burton, who opted out of the final year of his contract at RCR because of sponsorship issues and not wanting to put that burden on the team, along with knowing other drivers in his stable are anxious to move up. He could be a consideration, but it is unclear.
In any case, the final 10 races for RPM will be an interesting time to determine what their next move will be, both on the track and off.