Sprint Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick (4) races driver Jeffrey Earnhardt (32) during the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond global Raceway last Saturday.
I realize that takes all of the Gibbs cars out of the picture for the championship, but I can’t see a championship race at Homestead without Johnson, Harvick, Gordon and Logano duking it out to win.
Season over? It sure seemed that way.
How did Kyle Busch make the Chase?
Busch overcame a broken right front wheel, finished fifth and prevailed by a mere eight points over race runner-up Johnson, who would have won his first championship in 2004, rather than 2006, had he been able to pass Greg Biffle for the win on the final lap.
The field features 16 drivers – the regular-season points leader, plus the next 15 drivers – as long as they’re in the top 30 in the standings and have attempted to qualify for each race – based on wins and points. “With the support of Toyota, Sprint and Chicagoland Speedway, we expect to deliver an engaging fan experience that builds anticipation for the most competitive stretch of our season”.
“I think the biggest thing is all the crew chief swapping going on, and bringing Adam Stevens in and some new fresh faces and engineers and some different ideas that maybe we haven’t quite used in years past”, Busch said. “I feel like we’ve got some improvements to make, but it’s a good time to be running this well”.
Harvick won’t call himself the driver to beat, but he notes that his team thrived in the pressure of the 2014 Chase, the first year of the new format where four drivers are eliminated after each of the first three rounds of three races apiece, setting up a four-driver, best-finish-is-champion scenario in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. So among those with the same number of wins, the driver with the most second-place finishes would be the higher seed.
On the flip side, one bad race and you are likely toast. It’s just a matter of having the circumstances and things go your way.
Here is everything you need to entering the Chase.
Logano has won what he considers the two biggest races of the season with the Daytona 500 and the Bristol night race, so the championship would be the flawless way to cap off a dream season. It has indeed been the year of the comeback.
In the last 11 races, only Logano and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have blocked Joe Gibbs Racing’s road to Victory Lane.
In the end, consistency is king and the numbers tell the real story.
Jimmie Johnson’s quest to become a seven-time Cup champion will be free and clear of sponsorship speculation. The announcement was made earlier this week.
“It’s not about stats or what’s pretty or not pretty – it’s about three weeks and making it to the next round, three weeks, making it to the next round, trying to get yourself in position for Homestead”, Harvick said. “I just hope it’s one of our cars”. It says a lot to have one sponsor and one team for this amount of time.
I like to compare Keselowski to your prototypical National Hockey League power forward – he has speed, skill and most importantly a mean streak. Aric Almirola, who made the Chase field last year as a race victor, was the first man out of this year’s Chase. Tony Stewart (100-1) also failed to make the Chase after a awful season, but his driver rating, 105.0, is third best and he leads all active drivers here with three wins the last coming in 2011 so he can’t be ignored. His contract with Hendrick Motorsports runs through 2018.
His record leading up to Sunday’s race shows the No. 2 Ford team has been building momentum with six consecutive top-10 finishes, including runner up results at Darlington and Pocono in that period.
The first half was dominated by Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr while Jimmie Johnson led the way with four wins.
Kenseth was part of a NASCAR media blitz Tuesday that continues Wednesday, during which Chase drivers make appearances around the country.