Charting the Chase field after Texas

The 2016 Chase grid after Texas (NASCAR)
The 2016 Chase grid after Texas (NASCAR)
The 2016 Chase grid after Texas (NASCAR)

1. Jimmie Johnson (0) 1 win. Johnson made a late race gamble that had the rains stayed away, might have put him in contention for the win. As it was his late pit stop to get fresh tires took him out of the top 10 and left him in 11th in the rain shortened event. With his Martinsville win however, Johnson has already secured himself a spot in the Final 4 at Homestead.

2. Carl Edwards (+6) 1 win. Edwards was in desperation mode. A week after a crash at Martinsville out him at the bottom of the Chase grid, he needed a win to advance. Sunday he ran a smart, hard fought race passing Martin Truex Jr. during a round of late race pit stops and holding of Joey Logano winning the race when rain ended it 40 laps from the end. For the first time since 2011 when Edwards lost the title in a tiebreaker to Tony Stewart, Edwards will get another shot as he becomes the second driver to secure a spot in the Final 4.

3. Joey Logano (+3) 4074. Logano led a race high 178 laps Sunday. A round of green flag pit stops left him in third late in the going. He was able to rally back however and take second. Rain ended his hopes of catching winner Edwards, but if he can avoid catastrophe at Phoenix he still might be able to point his way into the Final 4.

4. Kyle Busch (+1) 4074. Busch had a terrible weekend. He crashed his primary car in practice on Friday, had a mechanical issue with his backup car and qualified terrible later in the day, and Sunday struggled much of the race. He had an ill-handling car most of the race, and had damage to his grille at one point. He and the crew fought back however and he rallied for a fifth place finish to keep his chance at defending his title alive. If Busch can avoid a terrible weekend at Phoenix and either win or finish in the top five, he could make the Final 4.

5. Matt Kenseth (-1) 4073. Kenseth never led a lap Sunday and never had the car to contend for the win. He finished where he started, 7th and will need to have a stellar run at Phoenix to grab one of the final two spots up for grabs in the Final 4.

6. Denny Hamlin (-3) 4072. For the first time in 31 races, Hamlin started outside the top 10. He didn’t improve much finishing 9th. He seems to be cooling off at the wrong time and only a miraculous run at Phoenix will see him in title contention at Homestead.

7. Kevin Harvick (0) 4056. Harvick heads to Phoenix in desperation mode. He started third, but never led a lap and seemed barely able to hang on to finish sixth. If  anyone is going to salvage a title run with a win at Phoenix however that would be Harvick. He leads all active drivers in wins at Phoenix, and has won six of the last eight races there including the spring race. If anyone can secure a Final 4 spot with a win at Phoenix it’s Harvick. Will he be up to the task, we will know in just a few short days.

8. Kurt Busch (-1) 4040. Busch was lapped early Sunday,  was penalized a lap for pitting a second time after getting a free pass and lost his lap again and finished 20th. As much as his fan would like him to win, the chance of him doing so is very slight. There will not be a title for Kurt Busch this season without divine intervention.

Comments