Page 2 for the week of 09-28-2014

The First Reid: Clutch Kahne survives again

By Reid Spencer

NASCAR Wire Service

If Kasey Kahne were a cat, he’d have about seven lives left right about now.

Kahne qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup at the 11th hour, grabbing the lead from Matt Kenseth at Atlanta with two laps left in the 25th event of a 26-race regular season. At that point, Kahne had to win a race to make the Chase, and he did.

In Sunday’s AAA 400, Kahne survived elimination from the 10-race playoff by a razor-thin margin, making an improbable comeback from four laps down.

Kahne brought his No. 5 Chevrolet to pit road on Lap 161 with a loose left rear wheel and lost two laps thanks to the unscheduled stop. >From that point, there was a wild ebb and flow to his fortunes.

He got one lap back on a wave-around, only to lose it again when then-leader Kevin Harvick passed him on the track. Kahne lost two more laps when he pitted early—the cost of the wave-around—but regained them when the frontrunners completed the cycle of green-flag stops.

Another wave-around put Kahne one lap down, in position to claim the last ticket to the Chase’s Contender round by two points over AJ Allmendinger.

Kahne is often the forgotten man at a Hendrick Motorsports organization that features six-time champion Jimmie Johnson, four-time champion Jeff Gordon and NASCAR’s most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr.

But Kahne might be worth a bet in this year’s Chase—given his uncanny knack for survival.

@nascarcasm

A bet’s a bet, Miles the Monster. Jeff Gordon won, so you must pay homage to his early years for the remainder of 2014.

A bet’s a bet, Miles the Monster. Jeff Gordon won, so you must pay homage to his early years for the remainder of 2014.

Did you know? Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman have NEVER been eliminated in the first round of the Chase? EVER? Talk about domination.

Kevin Harvick and Rodney Childers are advocates of making races shorter. Like, you know that thing that happens each race that takes the #4 team’s great day and flushes it directly down the crapper. Races should end a couple of laps before that happens.

Three weeks ago, Chicagoland Speedway was adorned with signage reading “THE CHASE STARTS HERE.” Next time they’ll have to make the signs bigger so that the #16 team sees them.

Cole Custer wins the NCWTS race last week. Erik Jones wins the NCWTS race this week. Ron Hornaday – we desperately need you back and in victory lane to raise the average age of recent winners at least to somewhere in the mid 20s.

(Follow @nascarcasm on Twitter. His unique views on NASCAR are his own – but chances are you have probably figured that out by now.)

NASCAR NUMBERS

By Reid Spencer­

3.0: The average finish recorded by Team Penske driver Joey Logano in the first three races of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Logano posted a win and two fourth-place finishes. Teammate Brad Keselowski had a second-best average finish of 3.3 in the Challenger Round of the Chase.

14: The number of top-10 finishes recorded by Sunoco rookie Kyle Larson in the first 29 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races this season. Though Larson didn’t qualify for the Chase in his first full season of Cup racing, he finished third, second and sixth in the first three Chase races.

20.0: Greg Biffle’s average finish in the first three Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup races. Biffle was the last of the 16 drivers to make the Chase, but he couldn’t get going once the playoff started. Biffle ran 23rd at Chicagoland, 16th at New Hampshire and 21st at Dover and was one of four drivers eliminated on Sunday.

223: The number of laps led by Kevin Harvick on Sunday at Dover, before a problem with the inner valve stem on the left front tire flattened the tire and forced him to the pits for repairs. Since winning at Darlington in April, Harvick has led the most laps in five races, but bad luck has kept him out of Victory Lane.

3,000: The baseline number of points awarded to each of the 12 drivers who advanced from the Challenger Round to the Contender Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. All 12 drivers head to Kansas Speedway tied for the Chase lead, with no carryover of points for victories.

NASCAR NOTES

The AAA 400 at Dover concluded the Challenger Round of the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup and the championship-qualifying field has shrunk from 16 to 12. AJ Allmendinger, Aric Almirola, Greg Biffle and Kurt Busch were all eliminated from Chase contention. The remaining 12 drivers had their points totals reset to 3,000, regardless of wins, for the first Contender Round race at Kansas on Sunday.  … Jeff Gordon guaranteed himself a spot in the Contender Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup by winning in dominant fashion at Dover. The No. 24 Chevrolet driver led the last 70 laps on his way to his fifth-career victory at the Monster Mile. Gordon’s Dover win was his first at the track since 2001. … The second segment of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, known as the Contender Round, kicks off this Sunday with the Hollywood 400 at Kansas Speedway. The Contender Round spans three events (Kansas, Charlotte, Talladega) and the four winless drivers with the lowest points totals will be eliminated from the Chase at its conclusion. Jeff Gordon will try to become the first driver to sweep Kansas, but he faces stiff competition from championship-qualifying drivers who have also won before at the 1.5-mile tri-oval: Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman.

Tune-In: NASCAR On Television, Sept. 29 – Oct. 5

Monday, September 29

5 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1

6:30 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub (re-air), FOX Sports 2

7 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network

7:30 p.m., Empty Cup: Quest for the 1992 NASCAR Championship (re-air), FOX Sports 2

Tuesday, September 30

7 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBC Sports Network

8 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBC Sports Network

5 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network

6 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1

Wednesday, October 1

7 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBC Sports Network

7:30 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBC Sports Network

8 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBC Sports Network

8:30 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBC Sports Network

5 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network

6 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1

Thursday, October 2

7 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBC Sports Network

7:30 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBC Sports Network

8 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBC Sports Network

8:30 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBC Sports Network

5 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1

5 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network

Friday, October 3                                            

7 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBC Sports Network

7:30 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBC Sports Network

8 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBC Sports Network

8:30 a.m., NASCAR America (re-air), NBC Sports Network

10 a.m., Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Race at Austin (re-air), FOX Sports 1

Noon, NASCAR Nationwide Series Practice, FOX Sports 1

1 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Final Practice, FOX Sports 1

4 p.m., NASCAR Nationwide Series Practice, ESPN2

5:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, ESPN2

4:30 a.m. (Sat.), NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Practice (re-air), FOX Sports 1

Saturday, October 4

10 a.m., NASCAR K&N Pro Series Race at Dover,

FOX Sports 1

11 a.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Practice, FOX Sports 1

Noon, NASCAR Nationwide Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, FOX Sports 2

1:30 p.m., NASCAR Live, FOX Sports 2

2 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Final Practice,

FOX Sports 2

3 p.m., TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Race at Road Atlanta, FOX Sports 2

3:30 p.m., NASCAR Nationwide Series Race at Kansas, ESPN

Sunday, October 5

Noon, NASCAR RaceDay, FOX Sports 1

1 p.m., NSCS Countdown, ESPN

2 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race at Kansas, ESPN

7 p.m., NASCAR Victory Lane, FOX Sports 1

1 a.m. (Mon.), NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race at Dover (re-air), ESPN2

Note: The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Petit LeMans at Road Atlanta will re-air on Sunday, Oct. 5 on FOX at 2p.m. or 4:30 p.m., depending on area. Check your local listings.

National Series Schedule

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES

The Next Race:Hollywood Casino 400

The Place:Kansas Speedway

The Date/Time:Sunday, Oct. 5, 2 p.m. (ET)

TV: ESPN

Radio: MRN, Sirius XM Channel 90

NASCAR NATIONWIDE SERIES

The Next Race:Kansas Lottery 300

The Place:Kansas Speedway

The Date/Time:Saturday, Oct. 4, 3:30 p.m. (ET)

TV: ESPN2

Radio: MRN, Sirius XM Channel 90

NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES

The Next Race:Fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola

The Place:Talladega  Superspeedway

Date/Time:Saturday, Oct. 18, 3:30 p.m. (ET)

TV: FOX

Radio: MRN, Sirius XM Channel 90

NASCAR National Series Standings

The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field has been trimmed down to 12 for the Contender Round, after the four winless drivers with the lowest points totals following Dover were eliminated.

Points for all championship-qualifying drivers, regardless of Challenger Round wins, have been reset to 3,000.

This year, wins matter more than in any season in the 65-year history of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Just like the Challenger Round, a victory in the Contender Round automatically advances a championship-qualifying driver into the next segment of the Chase.

At the conclusion of the Contender Round’s third race (Talladega), the four winless drivers with the lowest points totals will again be eliminated.

Chase Standings
Pos     Driver                     Points

1        Brad Keselowski     3,000

2        Joey Logano            3,000

3        Kevin Harvick          3,000

4        Jimmie Johnson      3,000

5        Jeff Gordon             3,000

6        Kyle Busch               3,000

7        Dale Earnhardt Jr.  3,000

8        Matt Kenseth          3,000

9        Ryan Newman         3,000

10     Carl Edwards           3,000

11     Denny Hamlin         3,000

12     Kasey Kahne           3,000

NASCAR Nationwide Series

Pos        Driver                 Points

1      Chase Elliott #            1,034

2      Regan Smith               1,008

3      Ty Dillon #                     988

4      Brian Scott                     975

5      Elliott Sadler                  970

6      Trevor Bayne                935

7      Chris Buescher #          857

8      Brendan Gaughan        814

9      Ryan Reed #                  759

10   James Buescher           756

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Pos    Driver                      Points

1        Matt Crafton               644

2        Johnny Sauter             625

3        Ryan Blaney                617

4        Darrell Wallace Jr.     611

5        Joey Coulter                562

6        German Quiroga        559

7        Timothy Peters           549

8        Ben Kennedy #           546

9        Jeb Burton                   527

10     Ron Hornaday Jr.        484

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