Someone please explain to me whether being in the Chase this year is a good thing or a bad thing, because through two of the four races it seems like being a driver with the yellow fascia, windshield banner and roof number seems more like a curse than an honor.
Back in New Hampshire, many of the then-16 driver Chase grid had issues. Fast forward another two races, and it happened again, and ironically was a similar problem for many. The first incident was Jimmie Johnson, who wrecked on lap 86 after contact with Greg Biffle. That relegated him to a 40th-place finish, and now has him last in the Chase standings in the Contender round.
Teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. had his race go bad while leading, as he slammed the wall thanks to a flat tire. He would finish one spot ahead of Johnson. The driver that had the most wins on the season leading into Sunday, Brad Keselowski, experienced the same fate as Earnhardt Jr, and would finish 36th due to it.
Kevin Harvick felt like he was having the same kind of issues with his tires, and pitted to play it safe. He would rebound to finish 12th, but the question of whether it was the right call remains, despite evidence that the tires were all inflated. Kasey Kahne had a tire go down right before a caution, which in a way gave him a rebound to get back on the lead lap. But, he too would fall victim to getting in the wall, and it cost him positions, finishing 22nd on the day.
So, with only the top-eight going into the next round, look at who currently are the bottom four: Kahne, Keselowski, Earnhardt Jr, and Johnson. Since 2006, seven championships are represented in that group, including two of the last three. Now, they are at the bottom of the pile, with two of those drivers nearly a full-race back in points.
In yet another ironic twist, when New Hampshire came to an end, Joey Logano was the Chase driver that was victorious, and moved into the next round. Sunday at Kansas, it was a repeat, as he would get the win, his fifth of the year, and gave him the free pass into the next Chase round.
So, now with two races left in this round, those drivers that have already gotten into a bit of a hole do not have much time to get out of it. In reality, they have one race where they can control their destiny, while the other race has so many variables outside the hands of drivers, it is more about survival. It will be a battle to the end, because only the elite eight will have a chance to make their championship a reality.
RESULTS: 1-Logano 2-Larson 3-Kyle Busch 4-Truex 5-Edwards 6-Newman 7-Hamlin 8-Dillon 9-Menard 10-Vickers
NOTABLE FINISHES: 12-Harvick 13-Kenseth 14-Gordon 22-Kahne 36-Keselowski 39-Earnhardt Jr. 40-Johnson
CAUTIONS: 8 for 34 laps. Lap 72-75 (Debris-FS), 80-83 (#41 Accident-T4), 86-90 (#48, 16, 98, 51 Accident-BS), 123-127 (#88 Accident-T4), 161-164 (#2 Accident-T2), 191-195 (#32 Accident-T3), 231-234 (#16 Accident-T4), 237-239 (#5 Accident-BS).
LEAD CHANGES: 25 among 9 drivers. Harvick 1-43, McMurray 44-46, Gordon 47, Keselowski 48-49, McMurray 50-71, Harvick 72, McMurray 73-74, Harvick 75, Earnhardt Jr. 76-82, Harvick 83, Earnhardt Jr. 84-89, Harvick 90, Earnhardt Jr. 91-122, Logano 123-126, Harvick 127-134, Logano 135-161, Kahne 162-163, Logano 164-166, Harvick 167, Logano 168-192, Harvick 193-197, Logano 198-231, Newman 232-233, Kyle Busch 234, Newman 235-238, Logano 239-267.
TIME OF RACE: 2 Hrs, 49 Mins, 17 Secs.
AVERAGE SPEED: 141.951 MPH
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 0.479 Seconds
CHASE FOR THE SPRINT CUP: 1. Logano, 3048 points*; 2. Kyle Busch, -6; 3. Edwards, -9; 4. Newman, -9; 5. Hamlin, -11; 6. Harvick, -15; 7. Kenseth, -17; 8. Gordon, -17; 9. Kahne, -25; 10. Keselowski, -39; 11. Earnhardt Jr, -42; 12. Johnson, -44; 13. Allmendinger, -938; 14. Biffle, -947; 15. Kurt Busch, -973; 16. Almirola, -974
*Advances to Eliminator Round of Chase