Page 2 for the week of 10-13-2014

The First Reid:  New Chase format brings out drivers’ emotions

By Reid Spencer

NASCAR Wire Service

Hey, let’s not get emotional… OK, let’s do.

The new format for this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, with four drivers certain to be eliminated every four races, has lit a powder keg in NASCAR’s foremost series.

Have you ever seen Matt Kenseth angry enough to jump another driver in the garage? Not that I can recall. But that happened on Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway when Kenseth horse-collared Brad Keselowski.

Have you ever seen Keselowski do anything that would cause half his competitors in the Chase to go off the deep end?

Come to think of it, we have seen that, so scratch that example.

The fact remains, though, that emotions were brought to a quick boil as drivers realized the implications of what was happening on the track at Charlotte.

Jimmie Johnson snapped at crew chief Chad Knaus, instead of the other way around. Keselowski tried to punt Denny Hamlin on the cool-down lap, bashed Kenseth’s car on pit road and ran afoul of Tony Stewart, who was minding his own business on pit road—until his car became collateral damage.

Danica Patrick spun and sustained damage to her Chevrolet after contact from Joey Logano, and within two laps Patrick was weighing possible avenues of revenge. Realizing that wrecking Logano at Charlotte or Talladega won’t screw up Logano’s championship chances, Patrick may come to Martinsville, the first venue of the Eliminator Round, locked and loaded.

The bottom line is this: the Chase format may be new, but the action is becoming deliciously old-school.

IPhone

Not only did Charlotte Motor Speedway bring the action and drama, it also has an IPhone 6 Plus on the backstretch.

Denny Hamlin is held back from attacking Brad Keselowski. But then Matt Kenseth comes out of nowhere and spears Keselowski. Take note, garage dwellers – THESE JOE GIBBS RACING DRIVERS ATTACK IN PAIRS.

Despite not being in the Chase, the Ganassi cars continue to be a powerhouse. Perhaps this phenomenon could apply to other sports and the Cubs could like, totally take the Kansas City Royals 3 out of 4 right now.

Fans of Dale Earnhardt Jr. are wondering who it is that makes the shifters for the #88 car. It doesn’t matter – they’ve already asked Ambrose if they can skip the country with him to Australia.

(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

­­ 2.8: Joey Logano’s average finish in the first five races of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Logano has two victories and three fourth-place results and is already assured of advancing to the Chase’s Eliminator Round by virtue of his victory Oct. 5 at Kansas Speedway.

15.4: Jimmie Johnson’s average finish in the first five races of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, one reason why Johnson is tied for 11th in the standings with only one more race left in the Contender Round. Realistically, Johnson needs a win on Sunday at Talladega to keep his hopes for a record-tying seventh title alive.

3: The current number of consecutive top 10s Ryan Newman has posted in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. Newman has been the quiet man in the Chase, but he stands an excellent chance of advancing to the Eliminator Round, if he can only get past Talladega without a catastrophe.

162: The number of laps led by Kevin Harvick in Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte, bringing his season total to 1,815, far and away a career best. For once, Harvick and his team weren’t subject to Murphy’s Law and won the race the way they ran it—in dominating fashion.

5: The number of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victories recorded by Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Talladega Superspeedway, the site of Sunday’s final race in the Chase’s Contender Round. Earnhardt hasn’t won at Talladega since 2004, but he’s looking to end his decade-long drought with a win that would propel the No. 88 team into the next round of the Chase.

NASCAR NOTES

At Charlotte Motor Speedway, pre-Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup favorites Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. posted disappointing finishes for the second consecutive weekend, putting themselves in serious danger of missing the Eliminator Round cut. All three drivers only control their destiny by winning Sunday’s cutoff race at Talladega Superspeedway, a place where each has celebrated in Victory Lane. Earnhardt ranks second among active drivers with five wins at the 2.66-mile track, while Keselowski and Johnson have claimed two checkered flags apiece there.  … Kevin Harvick automatically advanced to the Eliminator Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup by winning at Charlotte on Saturday – his first victory since April at Darlington Raceway. Harvick had been unable to close out victories during the last five races in which he led the most laps, but finally came through in the Queen City, edging out Jeff Gordon after a restart with two laps remaining. The No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet driver looks to continue his momentum at Talladega, where he owns one victory (spring 2010), six top-five and 11 top-10 finishes in 27 starts. … Heading into Talladega, Joe Gibbs Racing has a great shot of advancing all three of its drivers into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup’s eight-man Eliminator Round. Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth rank third, seventh and ninth on the Chase Grid, respectively. Busch (+25 points) and Hamlin (+16 points) sit comfortably above eighth-place Kasey Kahne. Kenseth trails Kahne by just one point for the final spot in the Eliminator Round and has fared well at the Alabama track, where he boasts the second-highest driver rating (90.9) among active competitors.

Tune-In: NASCAR On Television, October 13-19

Monday, October 13

4:30 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network

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

7 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub (re-air), FOX Sports 2

2 a.m. (Tues.), NASCAR America: Celebrate the States (re-air), NBC Sports Network

2:30 a.m. (Tues.), NASCAR America: Celebrate the States (re-air), NBC Sports Network

Tuesday, October 14

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

3 a.m. (Wed.), Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Race at Road Atlanta (re-air), FOX Sports 1

Wednesday, October 15

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

11 a.m., Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Race at Road Atlanta (re-air), FOX Sports 1

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

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

Thursday, October 16

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

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

Friday, October 17                                           

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

1 p.m., The 10 Talladega Moments (re-air), FOX Sports 1

1:30 p.m., NASCAR K&N Pro Series Race at All American (tape), FOX Sports 1

2:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Practice, FOX Sports 1

3:30 p.m., NASCAR Live, FOX Sports 1

4:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Final Practice, FOX Sports 1

5:30 p.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Keystone Light Pole Qualifying, ESPN2

7 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub Special, FOX Sports 1

8:30 p.m., The 10 Talladega Moments (re-air), FOX Sports 2

10 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Final Practice (re-air), FOX Sports 2

Saturday, October 18

4:30 a.m., The 10 Talladega Moments (re-air), FOX Sports 1

5 a.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Final Practice (re-air), FOX Sports 1

10 a.m., NASCAR K&N Pro Series Race at All American (re-air), FOX Sports 1

11 a.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Final Practice (re-air), FOX Sports 1

12:30 p.m., NASCAR Camping World Truck Series SetUp, FOX

1 p.m. NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race at Talladega, FOX

4:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, ESPNEWS

Sunday, October 19

Noon, NASCAR RaceDay, FOX Sports 1

1 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Countdown, ESPN

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

2 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race at Talladega (simulcast), ESPN Deportes

12:30 a.m. (Mon.), NASCAR Victory Lane, FOX Sports 1

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

 

National Series Schedule

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES

The Next Race:Geico 500

The Place:Talladega Superspeedway

The Date/Time:Sunday, Oct. 19, 2 p.m. (ET)

TV: ESPN

Radio: MRN, Sirius XM Channel 90

NASCAR NATIONWIDE SERIES

The Next Race:O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge

The Place: Texas Motor Speedway

The Date/Time:Saturday, Nov. 1, 3:30 p.m. (ET)

TV: ESPN2

Radio: PRN, 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, 1 p.m. (ET)

TV: FOX

Radio: MRN, Sirius XM Channel 90

NASCAR National Series Standings

The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field was 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 victories, were 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.

*Advanced to Eliminator Round with a win

Chase Standings
Pos     Driver                     Points

1        Joey Logano*          3,088

2        Kevin Harvick*       3,081

3        Kyle Busch               3,082

4        Ryan Newman         3,077

5        Carl Edwards           3,076

6        Jeff Gordon             3,074

7        Denny Hamlin         3,073

8        Kasey Kahne           3,057

9        Matt Kenseth          3,056

10     Brad Keselowski     3,038

11     Jimmie Johnson      3,031

12     Dale Earnhardt Jr.  3,031

NASCAR Nationwide Series

Pos        Driver                 Points

1      Chase Elliott #            1,106

2      Regan Smith               1,064

3      Brian Scott                 1,045

4      Elliott Sadler              1,043

5      Ty Dillon #                  1,042

6      Trevor Bayne             1,008

7      Chris Buescher #          912

8      Brendan Gaughan        875

9      Ryan Reed #                  820

10   James Buescher           792

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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