Making the Chase is tough. After his win in Atlanta, Kyle Busch said he's learned that he's learning to accept that things happen that are out of your control and cited defending champ Brad Keselowski as a perfect example of that.

When NASCAR expanded the Chase field from 10 to 12, I was against it. A spot in the playoffs should be hard to come by; and should be a reward for a good season. This isn't college football where everyone who has won half their games gets a bowl trip.

Despite my misgivings, the addition hasn't made a Chase spot much easier to attain.

This will be the 10th Chase. Only Jimmie Johnson has made them all.

Matt Kenseth has only missed the Chase once. Both Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart appeared in 8 of the first 9.

So, there are four of your 12 spots. With seemingly, the same folks running up front week after week, you'd think there would be more than four.

Let's go ahead and give a 5th spot to Denny Hamlin, who, until this year, had made the

Chase each season he's run a full schedule.

Beyond them, there is only one other driver with more than four years of full-time Cup racing to miss the Chase just twice: Carl Edwards.

That's it. Everyone else has spent, at least, 3 seasons on the outside looking in.

At the beginning of the year, how many of us saw a Chase without former champs Stewart and Keselowski? Not to mention Gordon. Or perennial presence Hamlin?

It is tough. And, it should be.