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The F-Post’s Matthew Dillner and a few vengeful members of the media take advantage of the opportunity to tank Kurt Busch in a State Water Heaters dunk tank.
NASCAR.com discusses the hot topics of the week RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota 1. The Eliminator Round consists of three very distinct tracks with the shortest on the schedule (Martinsville), a 1.5-miler (Texas) and a relatively flat 1-mile oval in Phoenix . Do any of the three stand out as more likely to adversely impact the Chase drivers? Alan Cavanna: They'll all have their challenges, but I think the biggest may be the first one. You can find trouble in Martinsville on the track and in the pits. One small thing can put you in a big hole right away. Zack Albert: Two potential schools of thought here. In terms of track, I think Martinsville is so difficult to figure out that it's very particular with who runs well there. On the other hand, Phoenix will be so much of a pressure-cooker with the final four drivers trying to lock into the Homestead championship finale that it could be an anything-goes type of race. Kenny Bruce: I want to say that Martinsville, with its slower speeds, isn't as much of a risk for those guys. Typically damage there is minimal, with teams being able to fix most problems and still be in the hunt. Then I remember the run-in between Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch earlier this year, with Keselowski eventually finishing 38th. So it definitely can happen. Cavanna: My mind goes right back to Clint Bowyer 's dive-bomb a few years ago at Martinsville that took out the 24 and 48. We won't see those moves at other tracks. But at Martinsville drivers will try. And who won that day? Current Chase surprise Ryan Newman . Bruce: After being at Talladega and witnessing the added pressure of it being a cutoff race, I have to agree with you Zack. The pressure will be there in all three, but at Phoenix it could be incredible. Albert: The spring race at Phoenix wasn't particularly nutso, but pressure works in mysterious ways. Cavanna: I agree about the Phoenix factor. At the very least we'll have five drivers competing for one at-large spot, possibly more. Bruce: If you think about it, all three tracks have had their share of memorable moments. The Bowyer incident, as you mention, Alan, at Martinsville; Gordon and Jeff Burton at Texas and Gordon and Bowyer at Phoenix . Hey, what is it with Gordon and Bowyer? Albert: Doesn't the 15 still owe the 24 one? Bruce: Possibly, Zack. If Martinsville was truly the site of paybacks, we could see a record number of cautions. Fortunately, I think some folks have too much at stake to get in the middle of a meltdown. Cavanna: I hope Gordon isn't a San Francisco Giants fan. A new rivalry may have started with Bowyer's Royals. 2. Team owner Roger Penske said after Talladega that he thinks other drivers are jealous of Brad Keselowski because of his driver's success this season. So, are others jealous of Bad Brad? Cavanna: I don't think you'd ever hear a driver say they're jealous of BK. I think some might be annoyed with him. And deep down, some of that has to be rooted in jealously. Albert: I think there's an element of every driver wanting to be the top dog. I think there may be some jealousy of the team he's with, but I don't know if it reaches a more personal level. Cavanna: At some point, I think it does Zack. In the hierarchy of the garage, Brad K. stepped over a lot of people who seemed to be next up to be crowned champion. Carl Edwards , Kevin Harvick , Denny Hamlin , Kyle Busch are all still searching for that first title. Bruce: Either they were laying it on thick earlier this week, or the other Chase drivers respect and admire what Keselowski has been able to accomplish since coming into Sprint Cup. Maybe they aren't fans of the way he carries himself, or the way he races in some instances, but they all know how difficult it is to be successful in this sport. Even Matt Kenseth said he admired how Brad came up through the ranks and what he's done. As you said, Alan, I think "annoyed" is a better description of how others feel about him at times. Albert: True, admirable. And the success without a perceived paying of dues can ruffle feathers. But actual respect only goes so far through all of Keselowski's outspoken nature in his comments through the years and the on-track antics in the Charlotte cool-down lap. Cavanna: I get the feeling some hoped BK would be an annoying fly they could swat away. But that doesn't appear to be happening. Bruce: Take his personality out of the equation and you have a driver that has won six times this year, won five poles and is considered one of the favorites for this year's title. Stout stuff. But as Zack noted, it's the "other" items that perhaps have some people questioning his position in the sport. Albert: Keselowski said in his 2012 championship speech in Las Vegas, "As a champion, I want to be your leader, and I want to help you make it happen." Are we there yet? Bruce: Well, maybe not just yet, Zack, but we could be getting there. Keep the cameras rolling, just in case. Cavanna: I don't think so Zack, and part of it may be other drivers' personal feelings toward him. It's like a reality TV show competition; you have to play both the professional and social game to win. 3. We mentioned Martinsville earlier. What is the likelihood that we will see payback in some form or fashion this week when the series heads up the interstate for this weekend's race? Cavanna: Payback just doesn’t seem worth it if you’re a Chase driver. Let's say Hamlin takes a cheap shot at Keselowski during the race. Then what? It certainly wouldn’t be over. Keselowski would have nothing to lose by coming back a getting Hamlin the week after. It'd be lose-lose for both of them. Albert: If we're going to see any, it's most likely going to be at Martinsville. Still, let's remember back to the spring when Keselowski leaned on Kurt Busch – it ultimately didn't matter since Kurt went on to win the race. So sometimes purposeful retaliation doesn't have all that much effect beyond the principle of the thing. Bruce: Payback comes in all forms and fashions, Alan. As Kevin Harvick noted earlier this week, payback isn't always about wrecking someone. At a track such as Martinsville, you can make it extremely difficult for another guy to get around you. You can be a pain on pit road. It doesn't even have to be in the actual race - you can annoy someone during practice if that's your goal. Albert: Or you can sneak into the infield concession stand and spike their hot dogs. Bruce: I know NASCAR cautions drivers each week during the Chase to "let the race play out" and not get involved in paybacks or things of that nature, but there's an awful lot that goes on out on the track that doesn't always come to light. Is that a P3 penalty, Zack? Or a guarantee that your car will be the random after the race? Albert: Doctoring hot dogs certainly falls under the heading of "actions detrimental to stock-car racing." At least a P3, season-ending probation and cutting off the supply of Goody's to the pit box. Cavanna: Excellent point, Kenny. We've seen Hamlin and Harvick have issues at Bristol. And I can remember a few drivers making it tough on Logano in the pits in the past. I forgot about those little things. Bruce: A driver never forgets, Alan. Just as Jimmy Spencer. Cavanna: Still, if you’re a driver with unsettled business, I'd be working the phones and text messages before Sunday. I think we saw some of that happen with Logano and Danica Patrick . Bruce: Which may or may not be settled, depending on whom you ask. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Lining up second to Busch is Chase contender Gordon
Hendrick driver brings speed after being eliminated from Chase RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota SPRINT CUP SERIES PRACTICE 2 ( RESULTS ) Kevin Harvick ran the fastest lap of the final Sprint Cup Series practice session on Saturday at Martinsville Speedway , moving up to the top of the leaderboard after his fifth lap, run in 19.457 seconds. The title contender's speed may have come too late, however: He will roll off the grid 33rd in tomorrow's race. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., one week removed from failing to qualify at Talladega Superspeedway , was second-fastest with a lap in 19.473 seconds. Brad Keselowski and Jeff Gordon , two drivers who advanced into the Eliminator Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, both finished in the top five, with Keselowski third and Gordon fifth. Kyle Busch , who was eliminated from title contention after last weekend's race at Talladega, finished fourth. Jimmie Johnson, who was first in the earlier session, and pole-sitter Jamie McMurray finished sixth and seventh, respectively, with Justin Allgaier , Chase contender Joey Logano and Dale Earnhardt Jr . rounding out the top 10. Earnhardt battled a low splitter that was making contact with the track in corners, heading to the garage midway through the practice session for tweaks. Aric Almirola tried to pass the No. 32 of Kyle Fowler -- who will make his Sprint Cup Series debut on Sunday -- but Fowler couldn't get over fast enough, leading to slight damage on both cars as they scraped each other in the corner. The rest of the Chase field finished as follows: Matt Kenseth , 14th; Ryan Newman , 17th; Denny Hamlin , 21st; Carl Edwards , 33rd. The Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 is scheduled for Sunday at 1:30 p.m. ET with coverage on ESPN. SPRINT CUP SERIES PRACTICE 1 ( RESULTS ) Jimmie Johnson topped the second practice for the Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway , a significant improvement on his 19th-place showing in the opening practice. His fourth lap put him atop the leaderboard with a 98.023-mph run, the only of the session to top 98 mph. Hendrick Motorsports teammate and Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup contender Jeff Gordon finished just behind him with a lap of 97.699 mph. Martin Truex Jr., pole-sitter Jamie McMurray and Kevin Harvick made up the rest of the top five, making a Chevrolet sweep at the top of the leaderboard. Brad Keselowski was the first non-Chevy on the leaderboard in sixth. Defending race-winner Kurt Busch was seventh-fastest., with Brian Vickers , Ricky Stenhouse Jr . and Clint Bowyer rounding out the top 10. The rest of the Chase contenders finished as follows: Joey Logano , 12th; Ryan Newman , 13th; Denny Hamlin , 14th; Matt Kenseth , 20th; Carl Edwards , 26th. Dale Earnhardt Jr. made slight contact with AJ Allmendinger coming out of a corner, doing slight damage to the No. 47. Allmendinger finished 15th, Earnhardt 23rd. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
See how the field will lineup up for the Eliminator Round premiere RELATED: Follow your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize Pos Car Driver Team 1 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald's Chevrolet 2 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford 3 20 Matt Kenseth Dollar General Toyota 4 14 Tony Stewart Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet 5 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Freight Toyota 6 2 Brad Keselowski Alliance Truck Parts Ford 7 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet 8 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Halloween Toyota 9 31 Ryan Newman Quicken Loans Chevrolet 10 41 Kurt Busch Haas Automation Chevrolet 11 99 Carl Edwards Ford EcoBoost Ford 12 15 Clint Bowyer AAA Insurance Toyota 13 24 Jeff Gordon Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet 14 27 Paul Menard Richmond/Menards Chevrolet 15 47 AJ Allmendinger Clorox Chevrolet 16 42 Kyle Larson # Target Chevrolet 17 55 Brian Vickers Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota 18 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Roush Fenway Racing Pit for a Pair Ford 19 3 Austin Dillon # Dow Chevrolet 20 13 Casey Mears GEICO Chevrolet 21 16 Greg Biffle 3M Ford 22 51 Justin Allgaier # Auto-Owners Insurance Chevrolet 23 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard Chevrolet 24 5 Kasey Kahne Great Clips Chevrolet 25 9 Marcos Ambrose Stanley Ford 26 78 Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Chevrolet 27 43 Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford 28 40 Landon Cassill(i) Newtown Building Supplies Chevrolet 29 34 David Ragan Wendell Scott HOF Tribute Ford 30 10 Danica Patrick GoDaddy Breast Cancer Awareness Chevrolet 31 36 Reed Sorenson Zing Zang Chevrolet 32 23 Alex Bowman # DipYourCar.com Toyota 33 4 Kevin Harvick Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet 34 38 David Gilliland A&W All American Food Ford 35 98 Josh Wise Phil Parsons Racing Chevrolet 36 26 Cole Whitt # Uponor Plumbing Systems Toyota 37 7 Michael Annett # Allstate Peterbuilt Group Chevrolet 38 93 Clay Rogers Burger King Toyota 39 33 Travis Kvapil Little Joe's Autos Chevrolet 40 83 JJ Yeley(i) DipYourCar.com Toyota 41 44 Timmy Hill Phoenix Warehouse Chevrolet 42 32 Kyle Fowler(i) corvetteparts.net Ford 43 66 Mike Wallace(i) Testoril Toyota (i) Ineligible for driver points in this series MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
See the order the cars will go off in on Friday (4:40 p.m. ET, FS1) RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota # Car Driver Team 1 26 Cole Whitt # Uponor Plumbing Systems Toyota 2 10 Danica Patrick GoDaddy Breast Cancer Awareness Chevrolet 3 66 Mike Wallace(i) Testoril Toyota 4 4 Kevin Harvick Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet 5 42 Kyle Larson # Target Chevrolet 6 98 Josh Wise Phil Parsons Racing Chevrolet 7 51 Justin Allgaier # Auto-Owners Insurance Chevrolet 8 36 Reed Sorenson Zing Zang Chevrolet 9 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald's Chevrolet 10 34 David Ragan Wendell Scott HOF Tribute Ford 11 44 Timmy Hill Phoenix Warehouse Chevrolet 12 23 Alex Bowman # DipYourCar.com Toyota 13 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford 14 3 Austin Dillon # Dow Chevrolet 15 15 Clint Bowyer AAA Insurance Toyota 16 41 Kurt Busch Haas Automation Chevrolet 17 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet 18 33 Travis Kvapil Little Joe's Autos Chevrolet 19 16 Greg Biffle 3M Ford 20 31 Ryan Newman Quicken Loans Chevrolet 21 83 JJ Yeley(i) DipYourCar.com Toyota 22 32 Kyle Fowler(i) corvetteparts.net Ford 23 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Halloween Toyota 24 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard Chevrolet 25 7 Michael Annett # Allstate Peterbuilt Group Chevrolet 26 5 Kasey Kahne Great Clips Chevrolet 27 99 Carl Edwards Ford EcoBoost Ford 28 20 Matt Kenseth Dollar General Toyota 29 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Freight Toyota 30 55 Brian Vickers Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota 31 27 Paul Menard Richmond/Menards Chevrolet 32 40 Landon Cassill(i) Newtown Building Supplies Chevrolet 33 14 Tony Stewart Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet 34 43 Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford 35 38 David Gilliland A&W All American Food Ford 36 9 Marcos Ambrose Stanley Ford 37 13 Casey Mears GEICO Chevrolet 38 93 Clay Rogers Burger King Toyota 39 47 AJ Allmendinger Clorox Chevrolet 40 2 Brad Keselowski Alliance Truck Parts Ford 41 78 Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Chevrolet 42 24 Jeff Gordon Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet 43 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Roush Fenway Racing Pit for a Pair Ford MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Busch tells team: 'It's all my fault ... lay this one on the driver'