By AMANDA VINCENT
The Eliminator Round, i.e. the third round, of the 2015 NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup concludes on Sunday with the running of the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. Eight drivers still have legitimate 2015 championship hopes heading to PIR, but only four will still be championship contenders come Sunday’s checkered flag.
Jeff Gordon is the only one of the eight Chasers remaining with his slot as one of the Championship Four competing for the title in the Nov. 22 season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, courtesy of his win two weekends ago at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
Any of the other seven remaining drivers (Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch and Joey Logano) would advance with a win at PIR.
Of those remaining seven, only Kyle Busch and Harvick have chances to control their own destinies and advance to Homestead without winning at Phoenix. Busch would clinch a Championship Four spot by finishing third or better at PIR, fourth or better if he leads at least one lap, or fifth or better if he also leads the most laps.
Harvick, meanwhile, would need to finish second or better, third or better and lead at least one lap, or fourth or better and lead the most laps to keep title hopes alive without a Phoenix win, regardless of how any of the other seven remaining Chasers finish. Fact worth noting — Harvick has won the last four Sprint Cup races at PIR.
Four of other five drivers still in championship contention need to rely on poor performances by one or more of their fellow-Chasers to advance to Homestead without winning Phoenix. Logano’s only hope of advancement is a PIR win after a wreck at Martinsville and a tire issue last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.
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