“Now or never,” “survive and advance,” “all or nothing,” whatever you want to call it, it’s crunch time this weekend for the majority of the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup drivers.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Dover International Speedway on Sunday for the AAA 400 (2 p.m. ET on ESPN), the final race of the Challenger Round. Following the event, the four winless championship-qualifying drivers lowest in points will be eliminated from title contention. The remaining 12 drivers will advance to The Contender Round and their points will be reset to 3,000.
The points couldn’t be tighter, and only one thing is assured – Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski have locked up a spot in the next round.
Everyone else? We’ll soon find out.
Right now, Ryan Newman clings onto the final Contender Round spot, ahead of Denny Hamlin (-6 points), Greg Biffle (-6), Kurt Busch (-8) and Aric Almirola (-10), but their fates are far from set in stone.
The bubble extends across the bottom half of the Chase Grid with a mere 12 points separating eighth-place Matt Kenseth from Almirola. That’s tight. Bold, italicized, underlined tight.
Jeff Gordon sits comfortably in the seventh spot on the Chase Grid, 15 points ahead of the cutoff line and would advance with finishes of 14th or better, regardless of anyone else’s result.