Chase Update – First-Round Cutoff at Dover, Xfinity and Trucks Take Second Step

The NASCAR Chase season is in full swing! The Sprint Cup is nearing the first elimination step, and the Xfinity and Camping World Trucks competitors have fired their first salvo. So far, no real surprises have surfaced, with tried-and-true veterans bubbling to the top while one rookie phenomenon continues to raise eyebrows.

Here’s a quick look at where things stand.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

motorsports-sprint cup seriesTwo races down, one to go in “The Round of 16” and, as expected, it’s the veterans who are setting the pace. Martin Truex Jr. grabbed the first Chase event with a solid performance at Chicagoland, while Kevin (“Where’d He Come From”) Harvick surfaced near the end at New Hampshire to punch his ticket to “The Round of 12.” Sunday, October 2 at Dover will mark the end of round one, and four hopefuls will be eliminated from the Sprint Cup Chase Grid after “The Monster Mile” has had its say.

Last year, Harvick arrived at Dover with a must-do attitude in order to stay in the Chase. And he did. He dominated the event, leading 355 of the 400 laps on Dover’s unforgiving one-mile, high-banked concrete surface to beat eventual champion Kyle Busch by over 2.5 seconds. The race unfolded at an average speed of just under 120 mph, with 40 of the 43 starters still running at the end.

This year, Harvick can breath a little easier, but there are drivers at the bottom of the heap that will need to dig deep. Going into the weekend, Jamie McMurray, Austin Dillon, Tony Stewart, and Chris Buescher are on the bubble, needing a solid run to vault into the top 12. Unless, of course, they can pull out a win. Of these four, only Stewart is a previous Cup-level winner at Dover, but that was three years ago. Chasers Kenseth and Harvick, along with Jimmie Johnson, are the most recent Dover winners currently in Chase competition, so odds will certainly be in their favor, although Kenseth and Harvick don’t need to win to move on, and Johnson’s pretty far above the cut line and likely to stay there.

So, look for a desperation move from the bottom of the Chase grid or, better yet, watch out for a spoiler from the non-chasers to grab the win and shake up the standings a bit.

Click here for NASCAR’s website for a full schedule of this weekend’s events.

Xfinity Series

motorsports-xfinity seriesVeteran Elliott Sadler showed up big at Kentucky Speedway last weekend to capture the first-ever Xfinity Chase event win, the 300. He led only 11 of the 200 laps, but he was on top at the end after a crash took out Erik Jones and Ty Dillon on lap 187. Jones had been dominant up to that point, leading 100 of the 200 laps, and was credited with a 28th place finish, dropping him to 9th place in the Chase standings.

The Xfinity series moves to Dover for the Drive Sober 200 on October 1;  Sadler finished 9th in last year’s event. Daniel Suarez, runner-up at Kentucky, finished one spot behind Sadler last year in this event, so look for a close battle as the Mexico native tries to lock up a transfer spot to the Round of 8. Other Chasers to watch are Brendan Gaughan, who finished 6th at Kentucky, and Ryan Reed, who finished 7th.

Click here for NASCAR’s website for a full schedule of this weekend’s events.

Camping World Trucks Series

motorsports-nascar-trucks-dreamstime_l_37496592Rookie sensation William Byron continued his magic by winning his sixth series race of the year in Saturday’s UNOH 175 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway – the first race in the inaugural NASCAR Camping World Chase event. The win advanced his team to the Round of 6 in the Chase for the 2016 Camping World Trucks championship. He led 161 of the 175 laps in the event, finishing .446 seconds ahead of a hard-charging Christopher Bell.

The Series moves next to Las Vegas for the  DC Solar 350 on Saturday October 1. Last year’s event was won by John Wes Townley, who is not in the Chase for the championship this year. Of the seven drivers jockeying for a pass to the “Round of 6,” only Bell was not in the field for last year’s Las Vegas race. While Townley pulled out a fuel mileage win in the 2015 event, Chaser Timothy Peters was runner-up with fellow Chaser Ben Kennedy finishing third. The remaining Chasers were also prominent in last year’s event: John Hunter Nemechek was fourth, Daniel Hemric sixth, Matt Crafton eighth, and Johnny Sauter 12th. Keeping those performances in mind, this second race in the Chase should produce a pretty exciting event!

Click here for NASCAR’s website for a full schedule of this weekend’s events.



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