Luckily for Ryan Newman, AJ Allmendinger, Greg Biffle and Aric Almirola, the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup’s Challenger Round does not end after one race. The revamped playoff system keeps all drivers in the hunt until the very last lap at Dover.
Thank goodness. The four stumbled at New Hampshire and currently reside in spots 13-16 in the Chase standings. Sunday’s Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (2 p.m. on ESPN) presents vastly different outlooks for each driver as they try to make the cut after the third Chase race at Dover:
Ryan Newman – The most successful driver of the four at New Hampshire, Newman has to like his chances to advance to the Contender Round. He owns a track-record seven Coors Light Pole Awards and ranks tied for first among all entrants with three wins. His last checkered flag at Loudon came in 2011 and he posted a fifth-place finish in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ first visit there this season.
AJ Allmendinger – In 11 starts at New Hampshire, Allmendinger has one top-10 finish and an average running position of 23.6.
Greg Biffle – Biffle entered the Chase with a string of consistent performances, locking himself into the last spot with five top-10 finishes in his last six regular season races. In 24 starts at New Hampshire, Biffle owns one win (2008), six top fives and nine top 10s.
Aric Almirola – Perhaps the biggest underdog going into the Chase, Almirola was running sixth at Chicagoland until his engine blew with 36 laps to go. The setback caused him to finish 41st. Almirola finished fifth at Loudon in 2013. Otherwise, he hasn’t posted a showing better than 18th in seven other starts there.