A closer look at the NASCAR Chase for the Championship contenders by team the drivers were finalized by points after the Richmond International Race, late Saturday evening, Sept. 6.
The Penske teammates of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano have won 7 of the 26 regular season races and have gained 5 Coors Light Pole Awards combined are looking towards contending for the Championship, often the pair would start 1, 2 doing well in qualifying. Keselowski, will start, the Chase in the top spot with Logano 5th in the standings.
“It feels great, there’s a lot of hard work that’s been put in,” Paul Wolfe, Keselowski’s crew chief said. “We just got to get focused on next week.”
The Hendrick teammates of Gordon, Earnhardt Jr., Johnson, and Kahne by far have the Hendrick power with all 4 cars gaining entry into the Chase format with a combined 10 victories during the 26 of the regular season and only 3 Coors Light Pole Awards between Johnson (1) and Gordon (2). Gordon is looking stronger this season then in seasons past, and with rumors circulating about his retirement, Gordon seems poised to at long last capture that illusive, but long awaited for Fifth Championship.
Earnhardt Jr. has had a strong year this season and this could be his year with everything looking like it’s falling into place. Earnhardt Jr. said he was going to be smart and try to put together solid finishes to remain in the Chase through-out the eliminations. Kahne has struggled this season gaining a win at Atlanta last weekend punched his ticket into the Chase. Johnson has struggled in recent weeks but don’t count out Johnson, he seems able to be a driver who is able to turn things around.
Hendrick drivers Gordon with a 10.0 average race finish followed by Earnhardt Jr. with a 10.88 average finish this year leads by 3 positions Logano has the third best average finish with 13.23.
The Stewart-Haas with four drivers have a pair of teammates making the Chase. Kevin Harvick having so far won the most Pole Awards of the season with 6 and Kurt Busch, with 3 victories combined from the 26 regular season races, have proven they have fast cars week in and week out, but Harvick seems to lose ground on pit stops and admits he doesn’t know how they’ll fix it. Both Harvick and Busch are in their first season with Stewart-Haas.
Joe Gibbs Racing, like HMS, has all three of his cars in the Chase with drivers Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin both with 1 win apiece and Matt Kenseth who won 7 races last season but has yet to score a victory in 2014. The teammates have 5 pole awards combined. As of late the JGR drivers have been struggling seemingly to make their chances for the Championship contention slim at this point.
Roush-Fenway teammates Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle make up the final pair of teammates, Edwards has 2 victories and Biffle having made the Chase by a slim 7 point margin. Edwards, who is leaving the Roush-Fenway team at the end of the season, doesn’t seem likely to remain very long for Chase contention.
Single drivers who made the Chase without teammates, Aric Almirola, A.J. Allmendinger, and Ryan Newman, both Almirola and Allmendinger received their first victories in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Newman however without a victory has finished solidly for the first 26 races of the season, is in his inaugural season with Richard Childress Racing, he is going to need more if he wants the championship.
The 16 drivers will have the next three races at Chicagoland, New Hampshire and Dover to remain in the Championship Chase. After the Dover race the Challenger round will end, making way for the Contender Round with only 12 drivers remaining eligible. The 12 will be given another three races at Kansas, Charlotte and Talladega, before 4 more drivers will be removed from the Championship Chase.
Eight drivers will remain in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship after Talladega, will go to Martinsville, Texas and Phoenix giving the 8 drivers to prove themselves before being reduced to 4 drivers at the finale at Homestead-Miami. One of the four eligible drivers, who achieves, the highest finish in the final race will be the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion.