NASCAR Cup: Chase field whittled to 12
By AMANDA VINCENT
When the checkered flag waved in the Citizen Soldier 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover (Del.) International Speedway on Sunday, the Chase for the Sprint Cup field was cut from an original 16 to 12 drivers for round two, set to begin Saturday at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
Truex claimed his second win in the three-race first round of the Chase on Sunday. Kevin Harvick, the winner a week ago at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, joins him as drivers advancing to round two by virtue of race wins.
Drivers joining Truex and Harvick in round two of the Chase, advancing because of their positions in the points standings after round one, include Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott, Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch and Austin Dillon.
All 12 drivers will be equal in the standings, each with 3000 points, heading into next weekend’s race at Charlotte.
Larson was in a provisional advancement spot heading into the Dover race, but a trouble-filled race that included an electrical issue, a pit-road penalty and a wreck took him out of position to advance.
Dillon, who was in a provisional elimination spot heading into the race, replaced Larson among the 12 advancing drivers after finishing eighth in the Citizen Soldier 400.
“First off, give all the glory to God, because, man, the race played in our favor. We did have a fast race car. I’m proud of that,” Dillon said. “I’m proud to be moving on to the round of 12 where I have some really solid tracks, one being Talladega where we were able to finish third earlier this year.”
Larson’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Jamie McMurray looked poised to take Larson’s spot in round two when Larson began struggling, but McMurray also had problems. After battling Dillon on the track and for a Chase advancement position, McMurray’s engine dropped a cylinder. Several laps later, his engine blew. As a result, like his teammate, McMurray will be on the outside looking in, in terms of the Chase, when the 10-race postseason continues at Charlotte.
“It’s unfortunate that both the No. 42 (Larson) and the No. 1 (McMurray) had a problem today,” McMurray said. “But, it is what it is, and that’s why we race. I’m proud of my team and proud of our guys and all the hard work they’ve put in, and it stinks that it’s over this way, but we get to race next week, so we’ll come back and try to do it again.”
Like McMurray and Dillon, Tony Stewart and Chris Buescher also entered Dover in provisional elimination spots, but unlike Dillon, neither was able to move into an advancing position.