Two races into the Chase and the Challenger Round continues to surprise and excite. After trouble in Chicago, Kevin Harvick knew he had to win to advance to the Contender Round. It looked like he was going to just that as he dominated most of the race, but he couldn’t stretch his fuel mileage far enough, handing the win to Matt Kenseth. Kenseth won his fifth race of the season, and most importantly, guaranteed himself a spot in the Contender Round with teammate Denny Hamlin.
Eight of the top 10 finishers at New Hampshire were Chase contenders but many drivers had fuel issues in the closing laps including Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Clint Bowyer, relegating them to 19th, 25th and 26th, respectively. The worst of the Chase drivers was Kyle Busch, who hit the wall hard after a right front tire failure. He would finish 37th. Non-chase contenders Greg Biffle and Kasey Kahne had banner days filling out the top 10 in fourth and ninth, respectively.
With the first elimination race this weekend at Dover, the following drivers are currently outside the top 12:
How The Rankings Are Calculated: Frontstretch does our power rankings similar to how the Associated Press does them for basketball or football. Our expert stable of NASCAR writers, both on staff and from other major publications will vote for the Top 20 on a 20-19-18-17… 3-2-1 basis, giving 20 points to their first-place driver, 19 for second, and so on. In the end, Mike Mehedin calculates the points, adds some funny one-liners, and… here you go!
No truth to the rumor that crew chief Jason Ratcliff put a large rock in the fuel cell of the No. 4 to prevent it from filling completely. Mike Neff, Frontstretch.com
First Place Votes: 5
Given his results after ACL tears, I imagine Hamlin’s going to start looking for contact in future basketball games. Aaron Bearden, Frontstretch.com
With everything you’ve been hearing about Joe Gibbs Racing lately, Logano has been very quiet recently, but he’s still putting up the good results. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com
First Place Votes: 1
Most drivers fear Miles the Monster. Carl Edwards, on the other hand, is bulky enough to makes Miles fear him. Aaron Bearden, Frontstretch.com
This just in: It is the Chase. Johnson is ALWAYS top 4. Mike Neff, Frontstretch.com
Looks like they used the same calculator for his fuel mileage as they did for Kevin Harvick’s. Mike Neff, Frontstretch.com
Ryan Newman is on his way to duplicating last year’s winless Chase results. Finish strong and try to win the last race, works for him. Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com
Brad Keselowski showed he can almost overcome a NASCAR call on restart that irritated many fans and more. He is likely to be back up front again and maybe with the right jump next time. Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com
Harvick’s season has gone into a free fall over the past couple of weeks. He has to stop the bleeding, and quick. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com
Apparently Nationwide doesn’t offer fuel as part of its roadside assistance. Mike Neff, Frontstretch.com
So far, so good for JG. Can he keep momentum rolling in his final Chase for the Sprint Cup? Aaron Bearden, Frontstretch.com
Martin Truex, Jr. could be the sleeper in the Chase. Fans will wake up if he can grab a checkered flag or two. Dwight Drum, RaceTake.com
Late September. Right on schedule for truculent Kyle Busch to return. Phil Allaway, Frontstretch.com
Whoa, sticking with the Biff actually worked this week? It’s been a while. Biffle scored a top 5 that Roush Fenway Racing desperately needed. Aaron Bearden, Frontstretch.com
Just happy to be here. Mike Neff, Frontstretch.com
Others Receiving Votes: Paul Menard (35), Kasey Kahne (25), Kyle Larson (20), Clint Bowyer (17), Tony Stewart (7), Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (6), Aric Almirola (3), Austin Dillon (3), Trevor Bayne (2), AJ Allmendinger (1).