The big story from Talladega this past Sunday was that none of our Chase contenders crashed out – instead, they took 12 of the top 20 spots.
Unfortunately for now-former points leader Matt Kenseth, he finished in that that 20th place.
Jimmie Johnson, however, led the most laps and finished 13th, putting him into the official points lead with 4 races to go.
According to our forecasting models, that gives Johnson a solid 20% edge in winning the title:
At 52.4%, Johnson becomes the first driver since the start of this year’s Chase to have over 50% shot of winning. It’s now Johnson versus everybody else.
Kenseth is hanging in there at 32.6%, which still provides him a reasonable opportunity to win. But the shift in momentum matches our initial forecast: all along, we expected Johnson to eventually overtake Kenseth, and now we’ve reached that point.
Kyle Busch (8.0%) and Kevin Harvick (6.4%) have low title chances. Their path to winning involves flat out dominating the final four races, finishing in the top 3 at worst.
The rest of the field amounts to a rounding error – nothing short of a miracle will result in anyone else walking out of this year’s Chase with the title.
Finally, our expected points total for the champion is still hovering right around 2400, right where we ended up the previous two years.
Check in next week, after Martinsville, for updated forecasts.