Panel of experts debate that and more as the roundtable returns RELATED: Play Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota 1. OK folks, the field of 16 for this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup has been determined. Looking at this year's roster, is there a favorite in the field? Alan Cavanna: I filled out my Chase Grid (like I hope you have, print a blank one out here) -- and started with my champion, Jeff Gordon . Huge year, fast speed, and the sense that the driver from the late '90s is back. Brad Norman : I'm not so sure there is a "favorite," but there's definitely a group of "favorites." That would be the Team Penske duo and the three heavyweights at Hendrick Motorsports – sorry, Kasey Kahne . Throw in Kevin Harvick , if he gets the pit-road problems cleaned up with a new over-the-wall crew. I can't imagine a scenario in which the final four drivers at Homestead don't come from that group. Kenny Bruce: For the first time in, well, a long time, I don't think you can assume that Jimmie Johnson is a clear-cut favorite. The No. 48 team started the season slower than many expected, caught fire at mid-season but has been "average" (for them) recently. Cavanna: OK fellas, I'm the only one going out on a limb with a solid pick. C'mon now. Norman : True, Alan. If forced to pick one, I'd go with top-seeded Brad Keselowski . He's back to form, he's got a great strategist in Paul Wolfe calling the shots and the Team Penske cars have been phenomenal on those intermediate-type ovals. Of which there are five in the postseason. Bruce: I'll lean toward Alan on the Gordon pick, but I've got to give props to 2012 champ Keselowski as well. The No. 2 team has been pretty stout of late, and that momentum's got to be worth something. Cavanna: I understand though. The four drivers in the Championship Round aren't necessarily the four "best." They're the three winners, and the most consistent. A great driver will be left out of the championship race at Homestead. Norman : One thing that's most interesting about Keselowski is that Joey Logano is one of his biggest challengers. They share a garage, share info. After Logano won at Bristol and Keselowski finished second, Bad Brad was asked about how those two will continue to share info during the Chase -- and it was a topic the 2012 champion was reluctant to discuss. Bruce: I think it's interesting that Gordon and Keselowski probably feel as if they have something to prove. Keselowski for not making the Chase last year and Gordon for not winning a title in the Chase-era. And I'm not sure how much you can compare 2013 to this season, but Mr. Kenseth reeled off back-to-back wins to open the Chase a year ago, I believe. Cavanna: You beat me to it, Kenny. Ten weeks from now we'll all look like fools when Matt Kenseth is hoisting the Sprint Cup trophy. Bruce: My biggest concern with the entire JGR group is their win total this year. Three teams, two combined wins. That probably won't cut it in the Chase. Norman : For Gordon, I imagine what he's feeling is just like what a veteran may feel at any job. You see these upstarts come in and win races, you don't perform as well and perhaps you wonder if you can still hang. That's a wonderful motivator. Mr. Gordon (hey, respect your elders) can most certainly still hang. 2. Speaking of JGR, Kenseth is one of three drivers in the Chase without a win this year and two drivers, Aric Almirola and AJ Allmendinger , are making their first appearance in the "playoff." How do we expect these guys on the bottom half of the board to fare? Norman : Certainly, you expect more from Kenseth than you do Almirola or Allmendinger because of his pedigree, his team, his equipment ... all that stuff. I'm not sure Kenseth can get to Homestead still in contention for the championship, but there's no reason he shouldn't be in the Eliminator Round. Of all the guys on the bottom of the board, I think he's clearly got the best chance. Cavanna: I'm not totally worried about the winless drivers just yet. The consistency we've seen from drivers like Kenseth and Ryan Newman should carry them forward for a round or two, even without wins. Bruce: You're spot on Brad . Given Kenseth's consistency, I expect him to advance beyond the first round, probably the second. Gets tougher after that, though. Newman has been consistent all year, Greg Biffle more so of late. I think Aric and AJ test the waters and see what it's like. But advancing would be a surprise. A nice one, but a surprise just the same. Cavanna: I hate to say I have little faith in the 47 team (Allmendinger) moving on. But, Aric Almirola is riding into the Chase with two straight top-10 finishes. If he gets three more, that will put him in the next round. Norman : I do think we're going to see a "surprise" driver advance, though. I'd pick Allmendinger, if forced to give a name. He's gotten better at intermediates. More than that, though, I can foresee a scenario in which a guy more favored to advance wrecks at Chicago, and then has a couple of gambles fail as he tries to get back in it over the next two weeks. Cavanna: Brad , I like your thinking for a roundtable rookie. I think the sport and fans are in for a big surprise. It's easy to think of the better drivers and assume they all advance. But one glance at any NCAA Tournament tells you that never happens. There's always an upset or three. Bruce: The thing about it is if a driver advances beyond the first round (Chicago, New Hampshire and Dover), Talladega looms as the cutoff race for the Contender Round and as we know, anything can happen there. How cool would it be, Alan, to see the 43 battling for a title? OK, battling for a spot in the next round? A lot of history there. Cavanna: It's a long shot, but the 43 will certainly be a chic pick for advancing to the top-12. Norman : I am the Kyle Larson of the roundtable, Alan. Cavanna: You're a dry wiper? 3. Now that we've determined who will win, who will advance and who can go ahead and start taking the yellow ID markings off their cars ... which teams on the outside are most likely to pick up a win during the final 10 races? Norman : It was rare to see that happen with frequency when there were 12 (or 13) drivers in the postseason. Now with 16? I think it'll be even more rare. The biggest contender to me, the roundtable rookie, is ... Kyle Larson. Maybe at Charlotte. Heck, he could win any of them. Bruce: I don't think it was that rare ... but the folks that won were often guys you thought would have been in the Chase to begin with most of the time. Tony Stewart , Jamie McMurray , Biffle, Denny Hamlin , Gordon. But you make a good point about the numbers decreasing the likelihood. Cavanna: Prior to the start of the season I picked Austin Dillon to win a race, with Talladega in mind. I'll stick with that. Clint Bowyer showed some promise at Richmond Saturday night, but I worry that may be the team's best performance of the season. Norman : To be fair, it happened three times last year. And if you look at who won those races, two of those guys are in the Chase field this year – Keselowski and Hamlin. And McMurray was the other, winning at Talladega which is a wild card. So if anyone outside the Chase field wins, I think it could portend a big 2015 season. Larson, Bowyer, Dillon ... what about Stewart? Cavanna: I think a lot of people are overlooking what a win by a non-Chaser does to the championship run. Every time that bell rings, it's one less automatic spot for a guy going after a championship. Bruce: Bowyer is tough at New Hampshire, so maybe it's better late than never for him and the MWR team, Alan. But I wouldn't be surprised if one of the rookies, Dillon or Larson, gets a win now that there's no Chase pressure. Norman : Alan, you make a good point about the championship run. Can you imagine in any round, if somehow a non-Chaser wins two in a row? Bruce: Your comments reminded me of something, guys. If a non-Chase driver wins a race in the Chase, does he get one of those yellow "winner" stickers to go above his window? For that matter, does anyone? Cavanna: Everyone likes rewards, Kenny. I hope the stickers remain. Norman : Everyone's a winner here, Kenny. Cavanna: Even Brad Norman's Chase beard. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: NASCAR Chase Grid games WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Expect plenty of strategies at play for Sunday's MyAFibStory.com 400 (2 p.m. ET, ESPN) RELATED: Play Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota JOLIET, Ill. -- In less than 24 hours, the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup will officially begin when the green flag drops at Chicagoland Speedway . That much we know. And that's about all we know. What actually happens -- and the strategy and reasoning behind why whatever happens actually happens -- over the ensuing 10 weeks is very much a mystery in this new era of a 16-driver, four-round Chase Grid. Will drivers go for wins? Play it cautious at first? Race for points? Yes. Any and all strategies and mindsets will be in play in Sunday's MyAFibStory.com 400 (2 p.m. ET, ESPN), the opening event of the three-race Challenger Round in which all 16 Chase drivers will vie for the 12 spots in the Contender Round. "There are a lot of different ways you can win, or advance, with this format," said Brad Keselowski , the postseason's top-seeded driver after winning four races in NASCAR's regular season. "We can run through all the hypotheticals, but there's so many different scenarios that it's a waste of time in my mind. I just want to go out there and take care of business." Taking care of business presents the simplest and most clear, direct path to Homestead-Miami Speedway for the Championship Round, where four drivers have a shot at the Sprint Cup Series championship. Winning a race guarantees an eligible Chase driver a spot in the next round. So win once in the Challenger Round, the Contender Round and the Eliminator Round, you're in Homestead with absolutely no questions asked. What if you don't win in all three rounds? That scenario, which is far more likely than the first, is where the water becomes murky. "I think you could get through this whole Chase and not win a race and win a championship," said Kevin Harvick , who had two regular-season wins. "There's so many ways this whole thing could shake out. You could see one of the favorites get knocked out in first two rounds, and they can be back in stride and win the last few races. "There's a million different ways it could all play out." To combat that aura of uncertainty, NASCAR drivers are prepping for Sunday's opener and the ensuing postseason events in a variety of ways. Denny Hamlin said he will be more mindful of his pit-road speed, opting to go a hair slower to ensure not surpassing the limit -- even if it risks losing a position or two. Kyle Busch is one driver who comes to the track with a brand-new, never-been-used car. Harvick has practically a brand-new crew on pit road, while Aric Almirola 's over-the-wall team was also tweaked. These moves were made to give those respective drivers, and their teams, the best shot at a championship, whether it comes by winning or logging top-10s. "I think consistency is still going to pay off, at least in the first couple of rounds," Hendrick Motorsports driver Jeff Gordon said. "Now, what it takes to move on to Homestead is a little different than going from the first segment to the second, and the second to the third. But there's no strategy or formula that's going to be perfect. "There's no magic formula to winning no matter what the format is because you don't know what the other cars are going to do." While some drivers, such as Keselowski, agreed with Harvick that winning a title could come without winning a postseason event, others wouldn't go that far. "I think consistency can get you to the fourth round at Homestead," Kasey Kahne said. "Wins are more important if you want to win a championship. I think your wins get you going in the right direction, and that's what's going to win a championship in my opinion. You have to win races." Perhaps Carl Edwards , who brought a fast No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford to the track this week, said it the most succinctly. His strategy would guarantee practically any of the Chase drivers a championship. How feasible it is presents a different question altogether. "Really," Edwards said, "what it comes down to is, you have to be perfect." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: NASCAR Chase Grid games WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
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A statistical look ahead to the opening race of the Contender Round RELATED: Follow your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Below is a look at the 12 Contenders – and beyond – at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas going into the Hollywood Casino 400 on Sunday, October 5. Coverage begins on ESPN at 1 p.m. ET and the race is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET. KANSAS-SPECIFIC STATISTICS 1 - Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 105.0 2014 Rundown • Five wins, 13 top fives, 16 top 10s; five poles • Average finish of 12.4 • Led 23 races for 1,496 laps Kansas Speedway Outlook: • One win, two top fives, four top 10s • Average finish of 10.6 in nine races • Average Running Position of 13.8, 10th-best • Driver Rating of 89.2, 11th-best 2 - Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 106.5 2014 Rundown • Four wins, 13 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 12.2 • Led 19 races for 794 laps Kansas Speedway Outlook: • Two top fives, two top 10s • Average finish of 21.7 in 10 races • Average Running Position of 20.3, 24th-best • Driver Rating of 73.2, 21st-best 3 - Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 108.8 2014 Rundown • Two wins, 10 top fives, 15 top 10s; seven poles • Average finish of 14.0 • Led 21 races for 1,592 laps Kansas Speedway Outlook: • One win, three top fives, eight top 10s; two poles • Average finish of 11.5 in 17 races • Average Running Position of 11.8, seventh-best • Driver Rating of 99.1, fifth-best • 202 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most • Series-high 969 Green Flag Passes • 468 Quality Passes, fifth-most 4 - Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 100.8 2014 Rundown • Three wins, 10 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 13.4 • Led 15 races for 1,035 laps Kansas Speedway Outlook: • Two wins, six top fives, 14 top 10s; three poles • Average finish of 7.6 in 16 races • Series-best Average Running Position of 7.5 • Series-best Driver Rating of 117.4 • Series-high 478 Fastest Laps Run • Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 167.549 mph • Series-high 3,042 Laps in the Top 15 (89.0%) • Series-high 614 Quality Passes 5 - Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 110.4 2014 Rundown • Four wins, 11 top fives, 19 top 10s; two poles • Average finish of 10.0 • Led 20 races for 665 laps Kansas Speedway Outlook: • Three wins, 10 top fives, 12 top 10s • Average finish of 10.1 in 17 races • Average Running Position of 9.7, third-best • Driver Rating of 101.1, fourth-best • 147 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most • 2,878 Laps in the Top 15 (84.2%), second-most • 536 Quality Passes, second-most 6 - Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M’s Toyota) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 90.6 2014 Rundown • One win, six top fives, 12 top 10s; two poles • Average finish of 17.1 • Led 13 races for 411 laps Kansas Speedway Outlook: • Two top 10s • Average finish of 22.7 in 14 races • Average Running Position of 18.7, 19th-best • Driver Rating of 76.8, 19th-best • 864 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most • 404 Quality Passes, 11th-most 7 - Dale Earnhardt Jr . (No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 97.2 2014 Rundown • Three wins, 11 top fives, 17 top 10s • Average finish of 11.0 • Led 12 races for 220 laps Kansas Speedway Outlook: • Two top fives, eight top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 15.2 in 16 races • Average Running Position of 14.5, 12th-best • Driver Rating of 91.5, ninth-best • 108 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most • 855 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most • Average Green Flag Speed of 166.627 mph, eighth-fastest • 1,981 Laps in the Top 15 (62.8%), 10th-most • 424 Quality Passes, eighth-most 8 - Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 93.5 2014 Rundown • 11 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 13.8 • Led 17 races for 467 laps Kansas Speedway Outlook: • Two wins, six top fives, 10 top 10s; two poles • Average finish of 14.3 in 17 races • Average Running Position of 10.4, fourth-best • Driver Rating of 107.4, second-best • 235 Fastest Laps Run, second-most • Average Green Flag Speed of 166.855 mph, third-fastest • 2,623 Laps in the Top 15 (76.7%), fourth-most • 418 Quality Passes, ninth-most 9 - Ryan Newman (No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 85.1 2014 Rundown • Two top fives, 11 top 10s • Average finish of 14.0 • Led 4 races for 24 laps Kansas Speedway Outlook: • One win, three top fives, four top 10s • Average finish of 18.7 in 17 races • Average Running Position of 20.6, 25th-best • Driver Rating of 69.6, 25th-best • 908 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most 10 - Carl Edwards (No. 99 Fastenal Ford) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 82.5 2014 Rundown • Two wins, six top fives, 11 top 10s • Average finish of 14.8 • Led 10 races for 134 laps Kansas Speedway Outlook: • Five top fives, 10 top 10s • Average finish of 10.5 in 14 races • Average Running Position of 12.1, eighth-best • Driver Rating of 97.1, seventh-best • 131 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most • 877 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most • Average Green Flag Speed of 166.689 mph, seventh-fastest • 2,352 Laps in the Top 15 (68.8%), sixth-most • 493 Quality Passes, fourth-most 11 - Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 90.8 2014 Rundown • One win, six top fives, 12 top 10s; two poles • Average finish of 15.5 • Led 12 races for 195 laps Kansas Speedway Outlook: • One win, three top fives, three top 10s • Average finish of 15.1 in 12 races • Average Running Position of 14.3, 11th-best • Driver Rating of 87.7, 14th-best • 69 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most • 2,002 Laps in the Top 15 (63.5%), ninth-most • 399 Quality Passes, 12th-most 12 - Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 88.7 2014 Rundown • One win, three top fives, 10 top 10s • Average finish of 16.5 • Led 10 races for 204 laps Kansas Speedway Outlook: • Four top fives, seven top 10s; three poles • Average finish of 13.2 in 14 races • Average Running Position of 13.6, ninth-best • Driver Rating of 93.0, eighth-best • 147 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most • 939 Green Flag Passes, second-most • Average Green Flag Speed of 166.619 mph, ninth-fastest • 2,208 Laps in the Top 15 (64.6%), seventh-most • 436 Quality Passes, sixth-most 13 - AJ Allmendinger (No. 47 Clorox Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 70.1 2014 Rundown • One win, two top fives, four top 10s • Average finish of 20.7 • Led 5 races for 68 laps Kansas Speedway Outlook: • Two top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 22.8 in nine races • Average Running Position of 22.7, 27th-best • Driver Rating of 68.2, 26th-best 14 - Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 86.5 2014 Rundown • One win, six top fives, eight top 10s • Average finish of 19.3 • Led 11 races for 181 laps Kansas Speedway Outlook: • One top five, four top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 17.6 in 17 races • Average Running Position of 14.9, 14th-best • Driver Rating of 87.3, 16th-best • 121 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most • 923 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most • 1,980 Laps in the Top 15 (57.9%), 11th-most • 405 Quality Passes, 10th-most 15 - Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M Filtrete Ford) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 79.4 2014 Rundown • Three top fives, 10 top 10s • Average finish of 15.8 • Led 6 races for 109 laps Kansas Speedway Outlook: • Two wins, seven top fives, nine top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 10.7 in 16 races • Average Running Position of 9.5, second-best • Driver Rating of 104.7, third-best • 205 Fastest Laps Run, third-most • 837 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most • Average Green Flag Speed of 166.836 mph, fourth-fastest • 2,755 Laps in the Top 15 (80.6%), third-most • 506 Quality Passes, third-most 16 - Aric Almirola (No. 43 Farmland Ford) • Season-to-Date Driver Rating: 73.5 2014 Rundown • One win, two top fives, seven top 10s • Average finish of 20.6 • Led 5 races for 23 laps Kansas Speedway Outlook: • Three top 10s • Average finish of 15.6 in five races • Average Running Position of 15.3, 15th-best • Driver Rating of 88.1, 13th-best • Average Green Flag Speed of 166.561 mph, 11th-fastest The 12 Challengers at Kansas Speedway Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Brad Keselowski 9 0 1 2 4 0 10.6 89.2 2 Joey Logano 10 0 0 2 2 1 21.7 73.2 3 Kevin Harvick 17 2 1 3 8 1 11.5 99.1 4 Jimmie Johnson 16 3 2 6 14 1 7.6 117.4 5 Jeff Gordon 17 0 3 10 12 2 10.1 101.1 6 Kyle Busch 14 0 0 0 2 4 22.7 76.8 7 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 16 1 0 2 8 2 15.2 91.5 8 Matt Kenseth 17 2 2 6 10 2 14.3 107.4 9 Ryan Newman 17 0 1 3 4 3 18.7 69.6 10 Carl Edwards 14 0 0 5 10 1 10.5 97.1 11 Denny Hamlin 12 0 1 3 3 0 15.1 87.7 12 Kasey Kahne 14 3 0 4 7 1 13.2 93 * – Based on last 13 races at Kansas Speedway . Kansas Speedway: History · Groundbreaking was held on May 25, 1999. · The official opening of Kansas Speedway was in 2001, with the first events being an ARCA race and a NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race on the same day – June 2. · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was on Sept. 30, 2001 – won by Jeff Gordon . · During the 2012 season, between the April and October events the 1.5-mile track underwent a repave adding variable banking in the corners. Notebook · There have been 17 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Kansas Speedway , one NSCS event from 2001 - 2010 and two races per year since 2011. · 116 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas; 86 in more than one. · Five drivers have started all 17 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Kansas Speedway – Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick , Kurt Busch , Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman . · Jason Leffler won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Kansas Speedway in 2001 with a speed of 176.499 mph. · 11 drivers have Coors Light poles at Kansas, led by Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne with three each. · Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick are the only two drivers to win consecutive Coors Light poles at Kansas Speedway (Johnson – 2007, 2008 and Harvick – fall 2013, spring 2014). · Youngest Kansas pole winner: Jason Leffler (09/30/2001 – 26 years, 0 months, 14 days). · Oldest Kansas pole winner: Mark Martin (10/04/2009 – 50 years, 8 months, 25 days). · 11 different drivers have won at Kansas Speedway , led by Jeff Gordon with three. · Hendrick Motorsports leads the series in wins at Kansas with five: Jeff Gordon (three) and Jimmie Johnson (two). · Chevrolet leads the series in wins at Kansas with nine victories; followed by Ford with four wins. · Four of the 17 (23.5%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Kansas Speedway have been won from the Coors Light pole; Joe Nemechek (2004), Jimmie Johnson (2008), Matt Kenseth (spring 2013) and Kevin Harvick (fall 2013). · Five of the 17 (29.4%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Kansas Speedway have been won from the front row: four from the pole and one from second-place. · 10 of the 17 (58.8%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Kansas Speedway have been won from a top-10 starting position. · Two of the 17 (11.7%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Kansas Speedway have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Kansas Speedway was 25th, by Brad Keselowski in the spring of 2011. · Youngest Kansas winner: Ryan Newman (10/05/2003 – 25 years, 9 months, 27 days). · Oldest Kansas winner: Mark Martin (10/09/2005 – 46 years, 9 months, 0 days). · Martin Truex Jr., Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman are tied for the series most runner-up finishes at Kansas Speedway with two each. · Jeff Gordon leads the series in top-five finishes at Kansas Speedway with 10; followed by Greg Biffle with seven. · Jimmie Johnson leads the series in top-10 finishes at Kansas Speedway with 14; followed by Jeff Gordon (12), Edwards, Kenseth each have 10. · Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Kansas Speedway with an 11.000. · Jimmie Johnson (7.625) leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Kansas Speedway – he is the only driver with an average finish in the top-10 at Kansas. · There has been one NSCS race resulting with a green-white-checkered finish at Kansas Speedway : fall of 2011 (267/272). · Only one of the 16 races at Kansas Speedway has been shortened due to weather conditions: fall of 2007. · Qualifying has never been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Kansas Speedway . · Denny Hamlin has participated in the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Kansas Speedway without posting a DNF (12). · 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion and 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Austin Dillon (10/09/2011) and Denny Hamlin (10/09/2005) made their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career starts at Kansas Speedway . · Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth are the only two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers that have posted consecutive wins at Kansas Speedway : Gordon (2001 and 2002 – the first two NSCS events at Kansas) and Kenseth (fall of 2012, spring of 2013). · Nine of the 10 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners at Kansas Speedway participated in at least two or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Jeff Gordon won at Kansas in his first appearance. · Kevin Harvick competed at Kansas Speedway 15 times before winning last fall; the longest span of any the 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners at Kansas. · Kevin Harvick (15) and Matt Kenseth (13) have made 10 or more attempts before their first win at Kansas Speedway . · Kurt Busch leads the series with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Kansas Speedway without visiting Victory Lane at 17. · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Kansas Speedway was the (10/10/2004) race won by Joe Nemechek with a MOV of 0.081 second. · Jimmie Johnson leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at Kansas Speedway with 586 laps led in 16 starts. · Danica Patrick is the only female driver that has competed at Kansas Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Driver Starting Position Finishing Position Date Danica Patrick 40 32 10/21/2012 Danica Patrick 25 25 4/21/2013 Danica Patrick 29 43 10/6/2013 Danica Patrick 9 7 5/10/2014 NASCAR in Kansas · There have been 17 NASCAR Sprint Cup races in Kansas. Track Name City NSCS Kansas Speedway Kansas City 17 · 17 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Kansas. · Two drivers from Kansas have won at least one race in NASCAR’s three national series; both have won in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Driver NSCS NNS NCWTS Clint Bowyer 8 8 3 Jim Roper 1 0 0 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
Scores fourth win of 2014; one of 12 drivers to advance to Contender Round MORE: 12 drivers advance to Contender Round " Full race results " Updated series standings RELATED: Track your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota Jeff Gordon took the checkered flag in Sunday's AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway , but four other drivers got the axe in the first Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup elimination race in the history of the sport. AJ Allmendinger , 2004 series champion Kurt Busch , Greg Biffle and Aric Almirola missed the cut for the next round of the Chase, as the field was pared from 16 drivers to 12 following the third and final Challenger Round race. After the dominant car of Coors Light Polesitter Kevin Harvick had a major issue with the left front wheel on Lap 254 of 400, Gordon took control of the event on Lap 305, passing runner-up Brad Keselowski for the lead on Lap 305. After a cycle of green-flag pit stops, Gordon led the last 71 laps, pulling away to win by a comfortable 4.352 seconds. Jimmie Johnson ran third, followed by Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth , as all of the top-five drivers advanced to the Contender Round, a three-race elimination with visits to Kansas Speedway , Charlotte Motor Speedway and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Harvick (13th Sunday), Kyle Busch (10th), Dale Earnhardt Jr . (17th), Ryan Newman (eighth), Carl Edwards (11th) and Denny Hamlin (12th) also advanced to the Contender Round. The victory was Gordon’s fourth of the season, fifth at the Monster Mile and 92nd of his career, third most all-time behind Richard Petty (200) and David Pearson (105). And victory No. 92 had special significance beyond an automatic ticket to the next round of the Chase—especially after a blown tire last week at New Hampshire produced a 26th-place finish and put the four-time champion one disaster away from elimination from NASCAR’s 10-race playoff. "I think this is huge," Gordon said in Victory Lane. "We came in here with a little bit of extra pressure because we weren’t guaranteed to be in. If we hadn’t finished where we were running at New Hampshire last week (sixth when the tire blew), it would have been kind of an easy day for us. "But all we did was focus on executing as a team and trying to win this race and nothing else. It wasn’t about the points; it wasn’t about just squeezing by to get to the next round. It was about making a statement. I don’t know how you make a bigger statement than what this team just did right there." If Gordon took the suspense out of the closing laps, making what he called a "statement" with the victory, there was plenty of drama mid-pack, as Kasey Kahne rallied from four laps down to claim the 12th and final spot in the next round by two points over Allmendinger, who finished 23rd to Kahne’s 20th. On Lap 161, Kahne brought his No. 5 Chevrolet to pit road with a loose left rear wheel and lost two laps in the process. He lost two more during a subsequent green-flag pit stop. Thanks to a wave-around and a timely caution for Harvick’s issue on Lap 254, Kahne ran the rest of the race one lap down and gained enough positions to knock both Busch and Allmendinger out of the Chase. Keselowski already had a victory in the Chase and a guaranteed spot in the Contender Round, but he wanted more. "Yeah, we've had a really good start, so we can't really complain that much having won a race, and a second and a seventh," Keselowski said. "But it's hard to look at that. All I can think about is how I wanted to win all three races, and now it's time to move forward. "Three more races, a new start, and what we were able to do in these last three, other than getting us to this next round, really mean nothing. We've got to keep our head on straight and push forward these next three like we have these last three." All 12 remaining Chase drivers start the Contender Round with a baseline of 3,000 points. Any Chase driver who wins at Kansas, Charlotte or Talladega will advance automatically to the Eliminator Round. The Chase field will be reduced from 12 to eight drivers at Talladega. 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
Driver-by-driver news and notes from the final race of the Challenger Round MORE: Full race results " Updated series standings " Best Dover photos " Gallery of winners RELATED: Follow your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize Editor's note: Drivers in italics are in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup 1. Jeff Gordon , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Gordon dominated the last quarter of the race, leading 94 of the final 96 laps for his fourth win of the season. Gordon was in good shape to advance heading into the final race of the Challenger Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, but the victory was an exclamation point after a disappointing finish at Loudon. Gordon shared the celebration with his team over the radio, exclaiming, "Woo hoo we won at Dover boys!" See how Gordon won at Dover . 2. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske. Keselowski looks like a man on a mission in the Chase. He led 78 laps in the AAA 400 and his second-place finish gives him an average finish of 3.3 through the first three races of the Chase. As has been the case this season, speed was not an issue for the No. 2 team as Keselowski was the fastest on restarts (151.888 mph) and the fastest early in a run (151.662 mph). See Keselowski's race highlights here . 3. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. A steady but not spectacular run for the nine-time winner at Dover. For the first time since the spring race in 2007, Johnson did not lead a lap in a Dover race. If the No. 48 team wasn't so dominant at the Monster Mile that wouldn't be alarming. Still, the team did what it had to and more to advance. If the sleeping giant wakes up, look out. See Johnson's race highlights here. 4. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske. Last weekend's winner at Loudon already had his Contender Round ticket punched and he spent close to half the race outside the top 10. But "Sliced Bread" turned it on late, scoring his third straight top-five finish and his sixth straight top-10 at Dover. Despite not leading a lap, Logano seemed pleased with the effort, telling his team on the radio, "Good job battling all day." For more in-car audio, subscribe to RaceView today. 5. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Kenseth scored his 11th top-five finish of the season. In his seven-win season last year, he had 12 top-five finishes. Last year's championship runner-up spent the entire race in the top 15, something that only Johnson and Keselowski did otherwise, and spent the second-lowest amount of time on pit road. Get pit road times and more with RaceView. 6. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing. Larson has been on fire since the Chase began -- if only he were one of the 16 drivers in the field. The Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender had 37 quality passes, the second-most, according to loop data. In the three Chase races, Larson has an average finish of 3.7. Is there any doubt that his first Sprint Cup win is coming very soon? 7. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing. At what is practically the New Jersey-born driver's home track, Truex posted his best finish in 16 races, which was coincidently a sixth-place finish in the spring race at Dover. Truex had the most green-flag passes in the race with 62, according to loop data. 8. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Newman's steady hand helped him advance to the Contender Round of the Chase. He had the fourth-most green-flag passes (58), according to loop data. The eighth-place result was Newman's second such result at Dover in his past three races there. 9. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing. Bowyer earned his first top-10 finish since Richmond and extended his streak of top-10 finishes at the Monster Mile to eight straight races. 10. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Remember when everyone was worried that "Rowdy" wouldn't even make it out of the Challenger Round? Three top-10 finishes in the opening round of the Chase have proven that fear to be false. Busch was the third-fastest car early in a run and has looked solid in the Chase. 11. Carl Edwards , No. 99 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. For a brief time, it looked like "Concrete Carl" may not make it out of the Challenger Round as he was running as far back as 23rd on Lap 80. But the veteran stayed after it and worked his way up thanks to making 33 quality passes, the sixth-most in the race, according to loop data. 12. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing. Hamlin entered the race on the outside looking in of advancing to the Contender Round. But a strong starting spot, the least amount of time on pit road and a solid run at Dover moved him through. But one driver had some concerns about Hamlin's car as Gordon radioed to his team, "11 has his skirt flared out so much he's going to cut someone's tire." There were no post-race inspection issues with the No. 11 team. To hear more in-car audio, subscribe to RaceView today. 13. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. The polesitter led a race-high 223 laps and looked downright dominant. There were concerns about a broken left front shock, but it was a left front tire issue that derailed the No. 4 team's day. "Something had to cut that tire don't you think?" Harvick asked over the radio. Turned out to be a left front valve stem was knocked out. The team recovered well for a 13th-place finish, but this was the third time in five races that Harvick led triple-digit laps and had no win to show for it. See what happened to Harvick at Dover. 14. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. At a track where he has three career wins, "Smoke" scored his best finish since a seventh-place result at Loudon more than two months ago. He spent all but eight laps in the top 15. Perhaps this is the start of a strong 2014 finish to set up a solid 2015 campaign. 15. Brian Vickers , No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing. Vickers was eighth in the standings when engine trouble derailed his strong start to the season at Dover in the spring. He ran well here Sunday, scoring his fourth top-15 finish in the past five races. 16. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Menard has struggled to regain the form that saw him roll off four top-10 finishes in five races this spring into summer. The finish may look respectable but Menard ran just four laps in the top 15. 17. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. For the fifth time in six races, Junior finished outside the top 10. In fact, Dale Jr. spent only 40 laps in the top 10 and was never much of a threat to win. While the team moves on to the Contender Round, the results need to improve for a championship run. 18. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. "The Outlaw's" 500th career Sprint Cup Series start was supposed to be a joyous occasion but it was not as he did not advance to the Contender Round. Busch was battling a tight car most of the race and that affected his position as he went from 12th on Lap 300 to 18th at the finish. Busch took the blame, telling his team over the radio after the race, "It's all my fault. Put that all on the driver. It's all my fault." Hear what Busch had to say after the race. 19. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. This was a markedly better result for the second-year driver than the spring race when a crash ended his day early. Stenhouse recorded the second-most green-flag passes (59), according to loop data. 20. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports. Kahne battled his butt off to advance to the Contender Round. An unscheduled pit stop for a loose left rear tire on Lap 162 put Kahne two laps down. A green-flag stop on Lap 241 put him four laps down. Yet, at the end of the day, Kahne managed to be just one lap down and advanced in the Chase. Perhaps it was the team's ability to navigate traffic as Kahne was the seventh-fastest car in traffic (145.619 mph). Watch as Kahne talks about making the next round. 21. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing. Biffle and the No. 16 team's performance at Dover was eerily similar to the team's performance in the first two Chase races. The team struggled to find speed, had a bad starting spot and battled to stay on the lead lap. Those trends can lead to early exit in the Chase, like they did for Biffle this year. 22. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing. McMurray carried plenty of momentum into the race with four top-10 finishes in his previous five starts. However, the veteran driver struggled, logging the least amount of laps in the top 15 (87) for a driver that started in the top 10. 23. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing. Allmendinger saw his Chase come to an end at a track that was considered to be one of his best in the Chase. The Watkins Glen winner was frustrated with his car all day long, telling his team over the radio on Lap 236, "if we're going to be competitive dude, you have to find me some grip. I'm getting sick in the car this thing is shaking so bad." He later added on Lap 352, "Evil man! I'm tired of driving evil cars!" He ultimately finished two points behind Kahne for the final Contender Round spot. For more in-car audio with drivers unplugged, subscribe to RaceView today . 24. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing. Dillon qualified well and started 10th, but couldn't transfer that success over to the race. Just like in the spring race, the driver of the No. 3 Chevrolet finished two laps down. 25. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing. Patrick's four-race streak of top-20 finishes came to an end Sunday. Her finish was right at her career average finish of 25.8 at the Monster Mile. 26. Marcos Ambrose , No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. The finish may not have been what he wanted, but Ambrose got a shoutout from Dover International Speedway president Denis McGlynn in the driver's meeting. The RPM driver recorded the fifth-most green flag passes (57), according to loop data. 27. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing. For the third straight race, Mears gradually improved on his starting position. During that stretch, he has an average finish of 25th. 28. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports. Almirola's first Chase run came to an end with a disappointing run at Dover. The No. 43 team struggled to find a rhythm at this 1-mile track and the result was Almirola's worst career finish at Dover in six starts. Hear what Almirola said after the race. 29. Justin Allgaier , No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports. The rookie seems to be having an up-and-down second half of 2014. After earning three top-20 results in four races toward the end of the summer, he has since scored one top-20 finish in the five races since. 30. Cole Whitt , No. 26 Toyota, BK Racing. The rookie sure loves the 30th position. This was his fifth such result in six races. 31. David Ragan , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. For the second time in three weeks, Ragan finished in 31st. This finish came a week after a 42nd-place result at Loudon. 32. Reed Sorenson , No. 36 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing. Sorenson had his worse finish in nine races in the AAA 400 . He ran better in the spring race at Dover, finishing 24th. 33. David Gilliland , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports. For the second time in three races, Gilliland finished outside the top 30. This comes on the heels of a stretch where he finished inside the top 30 in the six previous races. 34. Alex Bowman , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing. Bowman may have finished 34th, but the rookie showed improvement the second time around at the Monster Mile. He finished 40th at Dover in the spring. 35. Landon Cassill , No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Racing. On the bright side, Cassill improve on his starting position to the finish for the seventh time in eight races. The downside: this was his worst finish in that stretch. 36. Mike Bliss , No. 37 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing. Bliss' finish at Dover was the second-best finish he has had in six Sprint Cup starts this season and marked the second time this season he was running at the finish. 37. David Stremme , No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport Racing. Stremme's 37th-place finish at Dover was right on par with his average finish for the season, 36.5. 38. Travis Kvapil , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing. Kvapil was hit a speeding penalty entering pit road on Lap 65. His 38th-place finish was his second finish in that spot in three races. 39. J.J. Yeley , No. 32 Ford, GO Fas Racing. Yeley started exactly where he finished at Dover, 39th. He was 13 laps down at the finish. 40. Mike Wallace , No. 66 Toyota, Jay Robinson Racing. Making a Sprint Cup Series start for the second straight week, Wallace finished 16 laps down for the No. 66 team's eighth finish of 40th or worse this season. 41. Michael Annett , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing. For the fifth time in seven races, the Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender finished 37th or worse. An accident left Annett 39 laps down. 42. Josh Wise , No. 98 Chevrolet, Phil Parsons Racing. Wise finished 203 laps down due to an issue with his suspension for his worst finish since the Las Vegas race in March. 43. Timmy Hill , No. 44 Chevrolet, Xxxtreme Motorsport. Making his seventh Sprint Cup start of the season, Hill retired from the race just 11 laps in with a vibration issue. 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