Remaining tracks place a premium on what NASCAR's powerhouses do best RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today Either way, someone was going to crash the party. No matter which of the two frontrunners ultimately took the checkered flag this past Sunday at Watkins Glen International , the venerable upstate New York road course was going to deliver what most everyone believed it would -- a new face introduced into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, and a new name almost certainly added to that expanded 16-driver grid. It went above and beyond that, providing viewers with breathless, desperate racing between AJ Allmendinger and Marcos Ambrose , both of whom knew their playoff hopes hinged solely on the results of Sunday afternoon. In the end it was Allmendinger, who a year ago this coming weekend was celebrating a Nationwide Series victory at Mid-Ohio for Roger Penske, and now stands on the brink of his first playoff berth at NASCAR's top level. The Chase now appears very close indeed, with the opener at Chicagoland looming just a month away, and during this late-summer stretch run the final pieces will fall into place. There's a bit of symmetry in it all: four races remaining in the regular season, four spots remaining in the playoff. We've reached the point where it will be impossible to have more than 16 different winners, as much as some of us had hoped to see it, if just for the anxious spectacle it would create. While there's still a chance to get to 16 winners and knock out anyone relying solely on points, we're beyond the point of wild cards -- no road courses or restrictor-plate venues remain to level the field for the long shots still holding out hope. The four tracks remaining all place a premium on the things the sport's established powers do best. For instance -- Michigan International Speedway, site of Sunday's Sprint Cup event, and where hours on the dynamometer and in the wind tunnel are prerequisites on a blisteringly fast 2-mile track. The last driver you might be able to term an upset winner in Brooklyn might have been Brian Vickers for Red Bull in 2009, but that's probably unfair given the cash Dietrich Mateschitz was sinking into that program at the time. Before that, the last surprise there was perhaps Charlie Glotzbach in 1970, although owner Ray Nichels turned out some stout cars back in the day. Even at a track notorious for its fuel-mileage finales, the shockers are usually resigned to qualifying on Friday afternoon. Then it's on to Bristol , where Carl Edwards won in the spring, and which demands the kind of short-track rhythm which elite drivers do best, not to mention a car fast enough to prevent getting lapped on an early green-flag run. For all the focus on calamity and bump-and-run, the list of winners at Bristol is as star-studded as that of any other track. That kind of speed on a half-mile venue weeds out the field fairly quickly. There's never really been a shocker at Bristol, which tends to be dominated for long stretches by truly great drivers -- first by Cale Yarborough, then Darrell Waltrip, then Rusty Wallace, then the Busch brothers -- until the next one finds the knack. For years, the place gave Jimmie Johnson fits, it's so difficult. Drama? Plenty. Upsets? Unheard of. Atlanta may be something of a different story. Jerry Nadeau scored his lone career victory there in 2000, and call-up Kevin Harvick pulled an emotional stunner the next season, but both those drivers were working for top owners -- the former Rick Hendrick, the latter Richard Childress -- and wheeling equipment unparalleled for their time. Morgan Shepherd won three times there between 1986 and '93, his latter two victories coming for Bud Moore and the Wood Brothers in an era where those teams were still competitive. But this isn't the '90s anymore. Atlanta is another of those fast horsepower tracks, and the drivers who have historically owned the place are those with the most under the hood. So then -- Richmond. Sweat-it-out, bite-the-fingernails, don't-get-wrecked, last-chance Richmond. We've seen the near-impossible happen there before, in the form of Jeremy Mayfield winning the race in 2004 to wedge his way into that inaugural Chase field the only way he could. The possibility certainly exists that we could witness something like that again -- even if first-time winners run the table the next three weeks, there would still be room for one more on that Saturday night in the Virginia capital. As far as true upset potential, history points to Mayfield (whose Ray Evernham-owned team was better than the numbers might indicate) and Joe Nemechek winning in 2003. Nemechek that season, though, was a Hendrick driver. So does that really count? Michigan will help clear the picture, albeit if only a little. A victory by any repeat winner this weekend will officially lock in all those drivers with one victory -- guys we figured were in anyway -- and bolster the hopes of those hoping to get in on points. Another first-time winner (Michigan mainstay Greg Biffle , maybe?) and the pressure really begins to build on those guys who have yet to visit Victory Lane. A playoff of 16 winners may seem a remote possibility, but if we get to Bristol or Atlanta and there's still a chance of it -- well, a few firesuit collars may begin to feel mighty tight indeed. All that said, a tip of the cap to Allmendinger, who in almost certainly the final opportunity to do so gave us one more real underdog to go along with Aric Almirola, who pulled his shocker in the rain-shortened Daytona race in July. And while we're at it, give some credit to David Ragan, who told us all along this kind of thing was coming, even though he won his Talladega race a year too early. At Watkins Glen, Allmendinger and Ambrose provided a dramatic, grand final hurrah for the little guys. Thanks for the show, gentlemen. But given the tracks remaining in the regular season and the demands required in the Chase, the big boys will take it from here. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Get the latest Jeremy Clements news, media, stats, and standings for the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver only on the official site of NASCAR.
Hosts Alan Cavanna and Marty Snider preview this week's action in Richmond.
See the order the drivers will roll off in (Saturday, 4:10 p.m. ET) RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today # Car Driver Team 1 22 Michael McDowell(i) Discount Tire Ford 2 54 Sam Hornish Jr. Monster Energy Toyota 3 40 Matt DiBenedetto Curtis Key Plumbing Chevrolet 4 72 * John Jackson CrashClaimsR.us Chevrolet 5 11 Elliott Sadler OneMain Financial Toyota 6 43 Dakoda Armstrong # WinField Ford 7 60 Chris Buescher # Roush Performance Parts Ford 8 28 JJ Yeley Texas 28 Spirits Stage Dodge 9 42 Dylan Kwasniewski # Up & Up Chevrolet 10 52 Joey Gase Chevrolet 11 31 Chase Pistone(i) Chevrolet 12 44 Blake Koch Centershot Toyota 13 55 Jamie Dick Viva Auto Group Chevrolet 14 33 * Cale Conley (i) IAVA Chevrolet 15 01 Landon Cassill G&K Services Chevrolet 16 46 * Ryan Ellis Curtis Key Plumbing Chevrolet 17 19 Mike Bliss TriStar Motorsports Toyota 18 17 * Tanner Berryhill # NationalCashLenders.com Dodge 19 4 Jeffrey Earnhardt Bandit Chevrolet 20 13 * Carl Long OCR Gaz Bar Dodge 21 80 * Ross Chastain (i) ADVICS/CMW Toyota 22 93 Kevin Swindell JGL Racing Dodge 23 62 Brendan Gaughan South Point Chevrolet 24 14 Eric McClure Hefty Ultimate/Reynolds Wrap Toyota 25 87 Josh Reaume Lilly Trucking Ford 26 51 Jeremy Clements RepairableVehicles.com/AllSouthElectric.com Chevrolet 27 20 Justin Boston(i) Zloop Toyota 28 5 * Austin Theriault Maine Open for Business Chevrolet 29 74 * Mike Harmon WCIParts.com Dodge 30 6 Trevor Bayne AdvoCare Ford 31 99 James Buescher ToyotaCare Toyota 32 7 Regan Smith TaxSlayer.com Chevrolet 33 3 Ty Dillon # Bass Pros Shops Chevrolet 34 23 Carlos Contreras 38 Special/Voli Chevrolet 35 10 * Jeff Green SupportMilitary.org Toyota 36 16 Ryan Reed # ADA Drive to Stop Diabetes presented by Lilly Ford 37 39 Ryan Sieg # RSS Racing Chevrolet 38 9 Chase Elliott # NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet 39 2 Brian Scott Shore Lodge Chevrolet 40 70 * Derrike Cope youtheory Chevrolet 41 89 * Morgan Shepherd Courtney Construction Chevrolet MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Rookie finishes seventh but gains little on Chase Elliott, Regan Smith RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today JOLIET, Ill. – Ty Dillon closed the gap on the two drivers in front of him in the NASCAR Nationwide Series standings, but the Richard Childress Racing driver knows the gain was a slim one. With only seven races remaining, the opportunities are dwindling. The series returns to action Saturday, Sept. 20 with the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway (7:30 p.m, ESPNEWS). "Technically, we did what we needed to do, (we) beat the guys that are ahead of us in points, but we've got to do a lot better to get up there in the championship," Dillon said after finishing seventh in Saturday's Jimmy John’s Freaky Fast 300 at Chicagoland Speedway . Points leader Chase Elliott (JR Motorsports) finished 10th and now leads teammate Regan Smith , who finished eighth, by 18 points. Dillon trails the leader by 40. Elliott Sadler ( Joe Gibbs Racing ) and Brian Scott (RCR) both finished in the top-10 Saturday and remain fourth and fifth, respectively, in the standings. "We had speed all day, especially on restarts," Dillon said. "We could really go on restarts. But at the start of the race, our splitter kind of detached from the fascia on our front end and had a really bad flutter. Any time it would flutter (the car) would get really tight, so we had to come in and fix that and restart at the back I guess about 70 laps into the race. From there on, it was kind of a battle." Dillon worked his way back inside the top 10 and was running eighth following a restart on Lap 140. When Jeremy Clements brought out the caution at Lap 153, Dillon and his team, led by crew chief Danny Stockman Jr., opted for a fuel-only stop. As a result, he gained four positions to restart fourth. "(We) tried to hold everybody off," Dillon said. "I don't know if we finished sixth or seventh, we were side by side with (Sadler) at the line. ... Not a bad day for the adversity we had to come through." Trevor Bayne finished fifth, highest among the series' regulars. Sprint Cup Series drivers and a part-time Nationwide Series driver in Ryan Blaney swept the top four spots, with Kevin Harvick scoring the victory. It was the 19th top-10 of the season for Dillon, who earned his first career NNS win earlier this year at Indianapolis Motor Speedway . But Elliott, like Dillon a Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender, has three wins and 20 top-10s, while Smith has one win and 22 top-10s. Neither of the JR Motorsports drivers has shown any indication of faltering down the stretch. "We've been kind of battling from behind all year," Dillon admitted. "... Getting behind early in the race is nothing new to us; we're used to fighting from behind. "Hopefully things will start going our way and we run to our full potential." Text goes here MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
See the entry list for the Nationwide Series' final standalone of the season RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today Entry No. Driver Owner Crew chief Vehicle Sponsor 1 01 Landon Cassill Johnny Davis Dave Fuge 14 Chevrolet TeamJDMotorsports.com 2 2 Brian Scott Richard Childress Phil Gould 14 Chevrolet Shore Lodge 3 3 Ty Dillon Richard Childress Danny Stockman Jr 14 Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops 4 4 Jeffrey Earnhardt Gary Keller Gary Cogswell 14 Chevrolet Bandit 5 5 Austin Theriault Rick Hendrick Ernie Cope 14 Chevrolet Maine Open for Business 6 6 Trevor Bayne Jack Roush Chad Norris 14 Ford AdvoCare 7 7 Regan Smith Kelley Earnhardt-Miller Ryan Pemberton 14 Chevrolet TaxSlayer.com 8 9 Chase Elliott Dale Earnhardt Jr Greg Ives 14 Chevrolet NAPA AUTO PARTS 9 10 Jeff Green Mark Smith Todd Myers 14 Toyota Supportmilitary.org 10 11 Elliott Sadler J D Gibbs Chris Gayle 14 Toyota OneMain Financial 11 13 Carl Long Derek White Kevin Eagle 13 Dodge OCR GAZ BAR 12 14 Eric McClure Mark Smith Wes Ward 14 Toyota Hefty Ultimate / Reynolds Wrap 13 16 Ryan Reed Jack Roush Seth Barbour 14 Ford ADA Drive to Stop Diabetes presented by Lilly Diabetes 14 17 Tanner Berryhill Adrian Berryhill Daniel Stillman 14 Dodge NationalCashLenders.com 15 19 Mike Bliss Mark Smith Paul Clapprood 14 Toyota TriStar Motorsports 16 20 Justin Boston(i) Joe Gibbs Kevin Kidd 14 Toyota Zloop 17 22 Michael McDowell(i) Roger Penske Jeremy Bullins 14 Ford Discount Tire 18 23 Carlos Contreras Robert Richardson Sr George Church 14 Chevrolet 28 Special/Vol 19 28 J J Yeley James Whitener Steve Plattenberger 13 Dodge Texas 28 Spirits Stage 20 31 Chase Pistone(i) Steve Turner Shannon Rursch 14 Chevrolet TDB 21 33 Cale Conley(i) Richard Childress Nick Harrison 14 Chevrolet IAVA 22 39 Ryan Sieg Rod Sieg Kevin Starland 14 Chevrolet RSS Racing 23 40 Matt Dibenedetto Curtis Key Sr Gary Showalter 14 Chevrolet Curtis Key Plumbing 24 42 Dylan Kwasniewski Harry Scott Jr Scott Zipadelli 14 Chevrolet Up & Up 25 43 Dakoda Armstrong Richard Petty Philippe Lopez 14 Ford WinField 26 44 Blake Koch Mark Smith Greg Conner 14 Toyota Centershot 27 46 Josh Wise(i) Curtis Key Sr Gary Showalter 14 Chevrolet Curtis Key Plumbing 28 51 Jeremy Clements Tony Clements Ricky Pearson 14 Chevrolet Allsouthelectric.com/Value Lighting 29 52 Joey Gase Jimmy Means Tim Brown 14 Chevrolet TBA 30 54 Sam Hornish Jr J D Gibbs Adam Stevens 14 Toyota Monster Energy 31 55 Jamie Dick Jimmy Dick Mark Setzer 14 Chevrolet Viva Auto Group 32 60 Chris Buescher Jack Roush Scott Graves 14 Ford Roush Performance Parts 33 62 Brendan Gaughan Richard Childress Shane Wilson 14 Chevrolet South Point 34 70 Derrike Cope Mary Louise Miller Bobby Burrell 14 Chevrolet YOUTHEORY 35 172 John Jackson James Carter Richard Garcia 14 Chevrolet Crash Claims R US 36 74 TBA Mike Harmon Scott Stolzenberg 12 Dodge TBA 37 180 Ross Chastain(i) Shigeaki Hattori Bruce Cook 14 Toyota ADVICS/CMW 38 87 Joe Nemechek(i) Andrea Nemechek Steven Gray 14 Ford TBD 39 89 Morgan Shepherd Morgan Shepherd Kevyn Rebolledo 14 Chevrolet Courtney Construction 40 93 Mike Wallace Gregg Mixon David Goulet 13 Dodge JGL Racing 41 99 James Buescher Robby Benton Matthew Lucas 14 Toyota TBA (i) equals ineligible for driver championship points MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Compare the No. 11 penalty with the biggest penalties in Sprint Cup Series' history
Host of smaller teams have chance to make Chase this season