TMS Media Relations | Oct 13, 2014
A quick glance at the reformatted, elimination-style Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoff format that makes a stop at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, Nov. 2, for the AAA Texas 500.
WHO: The current 12-driver championship field consists of Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin and Kasey Kahne as they compete in the three-race Contender Round.
WEEKEND RECAP: Harvick won Saturday night’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway – the second of three races in the Contender Round – to automatically advance to the Eliminator Round. Harvick joins Logano, who won the Contender Round opener at Kansas, for the upcoming round that shaves the current championship field from 12 to eight drivers. While Harvick was celebrating in Victory Lane, tempers flared as Keselowski’s actions late in the race and during the cool-down lap had three drivers visibly upset with him. Tony Stewart backed into him on pit lane and crumpled the front end of Keselowski’s car and then Hamlin and Kenseth went after him in the garage area. Hamlin was restrained in his attempt, but Kenseth got a hold of Keselowski and tried to tackle him to the ground between the team haulers. Both team crews intervened and order was somewhat restored. Other Chase drivers with strong performances were Gordon (2nd), Logano (4th) and Busch (5th).
UP NEXT: The three-race Contender Round culminates Sunday at the unpredictable Talladega Superspeedway (1 p.m. CT, ESPN). Hamlin won the spring race at the restrictor-plate track. The final six berths will be determined of which drivers will advance to the Eliminator Round and join Logano and Harvick, who automatically advanced by virtue of their victories in this round.
OUTSIDE LOOKING IN: With one race remaining in this round to determine who advances, the title hopes of three former series champions and the series’ most popular driver are in jeopardy. Kahne currently holds the eighth and final berth to advance after finishing 10th at Charlotte. Kenseth, 19th at Charlotte, is ninth, one point back of Kahne. Keselowski (16th) is 19 back while Johnson (17th) and Earnhardt Jr. (20th) are both 26 back. In terms of the points picture since a win is in, second place receives 42 points and the scoring decreases by one-point increments with 43rd (last) earning one point. One bonus point also is available for leading a lap and another for leading the most laps. While the latter three have the odds stacked against them to advance via points, they can still make it to the next round automatically by winning at Talladega. The promising news is that Kenseth, Keselowski, Johnson and Earnhardt Jr. each have at least one previous victory at Talladega.
COMING UP: The AAA Texas 500 will be the middle event of the three-race segment known as the Eliminator Round, where eight drivers will remain in contention for the Sprint Cup championship. The Eliminator Round consists of Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (Sunday, Oct. 26, ESPN), the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 2, ESPN) and Phoenix International Raceway (Sunday, Nov. 9, ESPN). These three races will determine which four drivers will advance to the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 16, ESPN) and compete for the series championship.
Chase-for-the-NASCAR-Sprint-Cup, AAA-Texas-500, Brad-Keselowski, Kevin-Harvick