Joining Keselowski will be his teammate Joey Logano-sorry, not a fan of Logano either-Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, and Matt Kenseth.
It was a bad day for Hendrick Motorsports as HMS drivers Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were all eliminated from championship contention. Joe Gibbs Racing did advance Hamlin and Kenseth, but JGR driver Kyle Busch did not qualify for round three.
The four drivers eliminated revert back to the original Chase driver’s points, plus any finishing and bonus points accumulated in the six Chase races to date. Along with the four drivers previously eliminated, they can still finish as high as 5th place this season.
The 8 drivers advancing to round three of the Chase all start with 4000 points. The next three races are at Martinsville, Texas, and Phoenix, and the final cut to four drivers will be made after the Phoenix race. As in the other Chase segments, a win at any of those tracks advances a driver into the final round.
When the Chase first started I stated that a driver would have to win at least one race to be the NASCAR Sprint Cup champion. That isn’t so, and Matt Kenseth could be the driver to prove me wrong. Despite not winning a race all season, Kenseth has advanced to round three of the Chase. He could make an appearance in the final simply by accumulating the most points of any Chase driver who doesn’t win. There is no given that the final four drivers will win the season finale at Homestead in Florida. If no Chase drivers wins that race, and Kenseth finishes ahead of the other three finalists, he could be champion without winning a race.
Actually, Ryan Newman could accomplish what I mentioned ‘re Kenseth as he does not have a win either. I think Kenseth’s championship experience makes him the more likely of the two to win the championship.
As far as the race-I hate the strategy that has drivers sand bagging for 178 laps of the race, running in the back of the pack to avoid the “big one.” I realize the drivers who did this-Busch, Edwards, Hamlin, and Gordon were looking at the big picture, moving on in the championship battle, but that isn’t racing, even though going around in circles at 190 miles per hour takes a heckuva lot of talent.
There were several wrecks involving multiple cars in yesterday’s race, but instead of destroying ¼ of the field, these wrecks seemed to be like mini-big ones as 37 cars were still running at the end of the race.
A number of drivers claimed that Jamie McMurray’s car was leaking oil. A windshield tear-off from Kevin Harvick’s car was drenched in oil and Harvick could barely see to drive the car. Isn’t oil leaking on the track a safety hazard? So why wasn’t McMurray black flagged?
The Kyle Busch strategy of riding around at the back of the field backfired badly when Austin Dillon ran into him on lap 103-Busch had slowed for a wreck in front of him, while Dillon did not slow. Despite finishing 3rd and 5th in the first two races of round two of the Chase, the 40th place finish at Talladega left Busch seven points out of a transfer spot. Like seems to happen often in such circumstances, Dillon was able to continue while the M & M’s team had to basically rebuild their car. Dillon finished 13th.
Michael Waltrip showed he is a better race car driver than he is a dancer. Waltrip finished in 16th place on the lead lap. His tenure on Dancing With the Stars might be/should be over tonight. He said he wanted to conjure the spirit of Bill Engvall in his dancing, but watching dance he seems to have channeled Wynona Judd instead.
Ricky Stenhouse did not qualify for the race. Ouch. If I am the sponsor of that car I am an unhappy camper this week. Sponsors don’t spend millions of dollars to have their car parked almost before the weekend begins.
With Busch, Johnson, and Earnhardt out, don’t chalk in a Chase driver at the top of the leaderboard at the finish of the last four races of the season. All will be hungry for a win, and it is not out of the question that Kyle Larsen could break through for a rookie season win.
Finally, given that I do not like Keselowski at all, and Logano only slightly more than Keselowski, I may have to unwrap my jinx and start picking the Penske drivers for wins. Neither has won a race at Martinsville. Keselowski has a best of 4th and an average finish of 13.44. Logano does have a runner-up finish, but his average finish at the Virginia track is 14.82. I’ll pick Logano to win and hope my jinx still works.
Thanks for stopping by.