The conclusion of Sunday's Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire will mark the end of battle for some and the beginning of war for others.
As NASCAR moves into the second half of the Cup season Sunday, it does so with several with a few compelling story lines to ponder:
First, if they leave New Hampshire still mired in 20th place or worse, the battle to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup is all but over for guys like Martin Truex Jr., Marcos Ambrose, David Reutimann, Jeff Burton, Brian Vickers and Jamie McMurray.
The only way they'd be able to salvage a Chase chance would be to win two races between now and Richmond, seven races from now. But if they haven't won by now, chances of winning one, let alone two races between now and Richmond appear all but nil.
Second, the weekend after New Hampshire is the last one off for the remainder of the season. Teams – particularly those that ultimately make the Chase – better rest up as much as they can because what follows will be a grueling 17-week grind.
Third, there are no ifs, ands or buts about it: drivers that still hope to make the Chase – Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer, Juan Pablo Montoya, Greg Biffle, David Regan, Paul Menard, Kasey Kahne, A.J. Allmendinger, Mark Martin, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and Regan Smith – all have to go for broke once the series restarts at the Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis in two weeks.
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