Is the Chase really a two-driver affair? No, but life support is needed for most

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Do the math. Check the numbers.

Everyone assumes the last three races of the Chase are the Jeff and Jimmie show for the championship. Maybe so, but for all the long-shot lovers out there, the arithmetic says otherwise.

Officially, all 12 drivers remain in contention to win the Nextel Cup. Yes, even Martin Truex Jr., who is 513 points behind leader Jeff Gordon.

Truex needs more than a special prayer. He would need Gordon and Jimmie Johnson to sit out one of the last three races to have a shot at it.

But Truex will start on the pole for the Dickie's 500 Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, hoping to pull off the biggest upset in sports history.

The other Chasers remain mathematically eligible without the leaders needing to miss an event.

Granted, it's not an easy task.

For most of them, it borders on the miraculous.

Aside from Gordon and Johnson, the other Chase competitors need a winning trifecta to make the Hendrick Motorsports duo work for it.

Anything short of three consecutive victories makes it all but impossible to end up on top for everyone except third-place Clint Bowyer.

Bowyer is 111 points behind Gordon, and even he would need Gordon to go three races without a top-5 to catch him by winning all three and leading the most laps.

That scenario gets progressively worse as you get to 11th-place Matt Kenseth.

He needs to run the table in Victory Lane and have Gordon finish in the bottom three in all three events.

Hey, we said it was tough, but stranger things have happened.

Well, maybe not.

Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com. He can be reached at terry@blountspeak.com.