“For four, it’s over at Dover.”
That’s a catchphrase ESPN is using to promote its live coverage of Sunday’s AAA 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. It’s the third race of the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup, but even more than significant that that, it’s the first-ever elimination race in the Chase. After the Dover race, the Chase field will be cut from 16 to 12 drivers.
On a call-in show on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio recently, a caller played on the popular Netflix show, “Orange is the New Black,” by saying, “Dover is the new Richmond.” I admit, I never really considered the parallels, but the caller had a point. At Richmond (Va.) International Raceway, drivers were fighting for the final positions in the Chase. At Dover, drivers are battling to for the final advancing Chase spots.
The battle for those final spots to advance after Sunday’s Dover race is a tight one involving more than a handful of drivers. Positions eighth through 16th are only separated by 12 points, with Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth tied for eighth and Aric Almirola down in 16th.
If the points don’t shift at the bottom and none of the current bottom four drivers win at Dover, the eliminated drivers would be Denny Hamlin, Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch and Almirola. That list includes some big names and even a past champion in Busch. The next two drivers up from them are Ryan Newman and Kasey Kahne, so there are sure to be some big names and possible even a past champion eliminated come Sunday evening.
Here’s how I see things going, my prediction, if you will. I’m thinking Biffle, Newman, Almirola and Busch will see their championship hopes come to an end on Sunday. Yes, I threw that past champion in there.
Now, lets look back at those championship predictions I made before this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup even started. Back then — okay, it was just a few weeks ago — I had Biffle, Allmendinger, Almirola and Busch out after the first round of three races. Yes, I had Busch out at this point, even then. Anyway, I’m not deviating from those early predictions by much. The only change I’ve made is exchanging Newman for Allmendinger is my first four out. I originally had Allmendinger being cut with Newman still in after Dover.
What do you think will happen in Dover? Talk to us on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or on Facebook (facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook: NASCAR Examiner
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR