The season is far from over for the drivers who did not make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Forty-three cars still take to the track in the final 10 races, meaning 27 drivers who are not championship-eligible will compete in each event.
As a consolation prize, the non-Chasers get to play the role of spoiler – a title that carries even more influence this season, now that a win automatically advances a Chase driver into the next round. A spoiler can force a Chase driver to qualify on points by taking a checkered flag, a task that gets more difficult as the postseason goes on.
In 2013, three non-Chase drivers won races: Current spoiler candidate Jamie McMurray took the checkered at Talladega, then-reigning series champion Brad Keselowski placed first at Charlotte and Denny Hamlin celebrated in victory lane in the season-finale at Homestead. After failing to qualify for the Chase in 2006, Tony Stewart dominated the postseason by winning three of the final 10 races. Five Chase races in 2006 were won by “spoilers,” the most in the Chase era.
Other potential drivers who can crash the Chase this year include rookies Kyle Larson and Austin Dillon, who have been inconsistent and are threats to notch their first Sprint Cup wins. Veterans Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers both run well at New Hampshire and Talladega. Bowyer has two wins at each course, while Vickers has been victorious at both tracks once.