TMS Media Relations | Sep 09, 2014
The field of 16 for the newly formatted Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup is set and ready to start this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway.
Heading into the final regular-season race at Richmond, there were 14 drivers that had a clinched a spot in the Chase leaving two openings to fill. There were 17 drivers who could have raced their way into the field by winning the race, but Brad Keselowski made sure they did not have a chance to fulfill that dream as he dominated the evening and earned his fourth victory of the season.
Keselowski led all but 17 of the 400 laps, including the final 274, and will now try to give Team Penske a season title sweep as Will Power gave the organization the IndyCar championship a few weeks ago.
"What a night. I pulled into Victory lane and I pinched myself once to make sure I wasn't dreaming," said Keselowski, the 2012 Chase champion. "These are nights you don't forget as a driver and you live for."
Keselowski did not get a chance to defend his title last year after failing to qualify for the Chase, but 2014 has been a different season for him and his team. He has those series-leading four wins and in three of those victories he dominated the race.
“It’s very realistic to say we have a shot at it,” he said. “I like the tracks that are coming up and I feel like, if anything, we’re stronger than what we were in 2012, so that’s very positive. … Qualifying has gotten a lot better.
“We have shown the ability to dominate races. I feel like we maybe have done that once before but not with regularity. I feel like we have the opportunity to do that in some key Chase races, which is very enticing.”
His team is also looking ahead as they have tests lined up in the future at Texas Motor Speedway, Martinsville and Homestead-Miami while already having tested at Charlotte.
“He was down maybe last year, but came back this season,” team owner Roger Penske said. “He's been outstanding. I give him a lot of credit because he's pushing the team, he's pushing (his crew chief) Paul (Wolfe). He and Joey together, they're working each other, trying to find the speed in the cars.”
As for the final two spots in the Chase, they went to the two drivers that controlled their fate the most entering Richmond - Ryan Newman and Greg Biffle. Newman made sure of his Chase spot with a strong ninth-place finish while Biffle secured the final spot after finishing 19th.
Let’s take a look at how the Chase for the Sprint Cup will unfold over the final 10 races of the season, which includes the eighth stop at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, Nov. 2, for the AAA Texas 500.
To set the starting points, each driver started at 2,000 and also received three points for each regular-season victory. They are then ranked by the normal tiebreaker in the standings of best finish. Therefore the driver with the most second-place finishes would be a higher seed.
So the field to start the Chase looks like this:
Following each round that consists of a three-race segment, four drivers will be eliminated. Drivers who win those races will automatically advance as long as they are still part of the Chase. After each round, ties will be broken by best finish in that specific round.
The first round is called the “Challenger” Round and driver points will be reset to 3,000 for the 12 who advance. After the second round known as the “Contender” Round, the remaining eight drivers have their points reset to 4,000 and after the third, or “Eliminator” Round, the four remaining drivers have their points reset to 5,000. The series champion will be the driver who finishes best among the four finalists at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the Nov. 16 season finale.
The drivers eliminated in the first three rounds still have something to race for as any points they accumulate in Chase races after they are eliminated will be added to their starting point total so they can finish as high as fifth in the final standings.
Texas Motor Speedway is part of the "Eliminator Round," along with Martinsville and Phoenix. The three-round elimination playoff opens at Martinsville on Oct. 26, heads to Texas Motor Speedway for the AAA Texas 500 on Sunday, Nov. 2, and then to Phoenix on Nov. 9. The AAA Texas 500 begins at 2 p.m. CT and will be broadcast live on ESPN
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