NASCAR Cup: advancing to final four
Carl Edwards (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)
By AMANDA VINCENT
Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race is the second-to-last race of the 2016 season, making it the final race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup round of eight. After Sunday’s checkered flag, the cast of four drivers to battle for the 2016 Sprint Cup in the season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway will be set.
Two drivers — Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards — already have spots in the final four clinched, Johnson by virtue of his win at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway two weekends ago and Edwards, courtesy of a win last Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. As a result, two more final four slots remain and are up for grabs Sunday at PIR.
Positions in the points standings are close, with Joey Logano and Kyle Busch lined up immediately behind race winners Johnson and Edwards, and Logano and Busch are tied with matching points tallies of 4074 points. As a result of their close points quarters, the task for each driver to clinch one of the two remaining Chase advancing spots without winning the race is a tall order. Of course, either of the two would clinch and final four spot by winning at Phoenix, but otherwise, to clinch, regardless of the finishes of their fellow-Chasers, a second-place finish would be required.
The other remaining Chasers, especially Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin, aren’t far behind. They trail Busch and Logano by one and two points, respectively. They, along with Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch, though, only control their own Chase advancement opportunities with by winning the Phoenix race. Otherwise, they need assistance in the form of finishes by their fellow-Chasers.