Hal Martin is taken out by Brad Teague soon after getting back on the lead lap.
Get the latest Brad Keselowski news, media, stats, and standings for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver only on the official site of NASCAR.
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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
No one earns maximum score in Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota RELATED: Follow your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge After the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway , AJ Allmendinger , Aric Almirola , Greg Biffle and Kurt Busch were eliminated from the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , and they weren't the only ones upset about not advancing beyond the Challenger Round. In the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge, 94 percent of entrants had one or more of those four drivers moving on after the race at the Monster Mile. Just as championship hopes were dashed for those four drivers, those who picked them lost a shot at $100,000. Only six percent of entrants picked all 12 drivers who advanced to the Contender Round: Kyle Busch , Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Carl Edwards , Jeff Gordon , Denny Hamlin , Kevin Harvick , Jimmie Johnson , Kasey Kahne , Matt Kenseth , Brad Keselowski , Joey Logano and Ryan Newman . Those fans with a perfect Chase Grid are still in the running for a $100,000 prize if their grid remains perfect through the Contender Round, Eliminator Round and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship, accurately listing the relative finishing order of the four drivers at Homestead-Miami Speedway . In the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota, no one achieved the maximum score of 126 points for the first round. In fact, only one user scored over 100 (David Moore, with 102); the next-closest score was 90. From now until 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 5, Battle players can pick which eight drivers will move on to the Eliminator Round. To set your Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota field or check how your Perfect Chase Grid Challenge looks after the first three races, go to NASCAR.com/grid . 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
Drivers discuss difficult second round during Contender Media Day RELATED: Follow your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – With NASCAR's home to history as a backdrop, members of the Contender Round discussed the perils that face them over the next three weeks. Brad Keselowski , who finished the recently completed Challenger Round first in points, described this upcoming round thusly: "You look at this round, the Contender Round with Kansas, and you've got Talladega at the end. … Two of the three races are as much of a wild card as you can get in NASCAR racing these days. I think when we get all said and done, and it comes to Homestead and the champion's crown, whoever wins it will have earned it." This was Contender Media Day, a two-hour program held at the NASCAR Hall of Fame to set up the Contender Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The three tracks that will test the versatility of all 12 Contenders: Kansas Speedway , Charlotte Motor Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway . Hosted by ESPN's Kevin Negandhi, drivers still in contention for the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship recapped the thrilling Challenger Round and looked ahead to the 12-driver three-race Contender Round which starts Sunday at Kansas (2 p.m. ET on ESPN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Wednesday's media day, streamed live on NASCAR.com, was the first of its kind under the revamped Chase format. Starting this season, the Chase is broken down into four rounds. After each of the first three rounds – each consisting of three races – four drivers are eliminated, setting up a four-driver finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway . The first to the finish line among the remaining four contenders at Homestead will win the title. And speaking of Miami, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship race just got bigger. Announced today during Contender Media Day, country music superstar Jason Aldean will perform a pre-race concert in the infield prior to the start of the race (Sunday, Nov. 16 at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The elephant in the room during today's media sessions: Talladega Superspeedway , now a cut-off race. Always a wild card in the previous 10 editions of the Chase, it is even more so under this revamped format. "It will be interesting to see how Talladega plays out from the guys that have a good lead going into the last race, whether they're going to maybe try to hang back," Denny Hamlin said. "Then you'll have a group that's going to want to be aggressive and lead laps, so it will be very interesting to see how the final Chase cutoff race for this round plays out." 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
Four-time champion just 13 wins away from second on all-time list RELATED: Follow your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize DOVER, Del. -- With all the jockeying for Chase positions in the middle of the field, it was difficult at times to focus on what was happening at the front of the field in Sunday's AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway. At the end of the day, Jeff Gordon took the checkered flag for the 92nd time in his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career and took another stride toward a milestone everyone -- including Gordon -- once thought was untouchable. Make no mistake. Gordon already is in rarified air when it comes to his accomplishments in stock car racing. With 92 victories, he's third on the all-time list. He's a four-time series champion with an abiding hunger for a fifth title. He's a shoo-in for the NASCAR Hall of Fame. And he's now within sight, at least, of David Pearson's 105 career Cup wins, second all-time. A few scant years ago, catching Pearson was the furthest thing from Gordon's mind. He was having some serious issues with his back. Gordon and wife Ingrid added to their family with the births of daughter Ella and son Leo. Gordon wasn't particularly fond of NASCAR's Gen-5 platform, introduced into the Sprint Cup Series in 2007 as the Car of Tomorrow. And, when asked, he would dismiss Pearson's milestone as an impossibility. Now, it seems that only Richard Petty's unassailable series-record 200 victories is out of reach. Through treatment and exercise, Gordon's back is better. NASCAR's new Gen-6 race car better suits his driving style, especially since the implementation of the no-ride-height rules this year. Gordon has bonded with crew chief Alan Gustafson, and together they have found top-of-the-line speed in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Despite his superstar status within NASCAR racing and the crossover appeal that makes him a comfortable fill-in co-host with Kelly Ripa, for example, Gordon isn't above team-building within his organization. Two days before the AAA 400 , after a hair-raising qualifying lap at the Monster Mile, Gordon spent the evening at a local Dover fish house with Gustafson and his crew. Wearing a T-shirt and baseball cap and sitting inconspicuously at a family-style table, Gordon was just one of the guys. On the track on Sunday, he was an opportunist. Kevin Harvick was the class of the field, but mechanical issues bit Harvick's No. 4 Chevrolet as they often have since his last victory at Darlington in April. Gordon seized the moment, passed Brad Keselowski for the lead on Lap 305 of 400 and controlled the balance of the race. As he invariably does, Gordon deflected talk of reaching the century mark in victories. "I'm going to tell you the same thing I say every time I'm sitting here after a win: It's awesome to have 92, and I look forward to challenging for 93," Gordon said in the Dover media center. "I can't even think about 100 until we get to 99. "I mean, I never dreamed in a million years that I would be here talking to you after 92 wins, and especially at this point in my career, this many years in the sport, to be having the year that we're having, it's just something I never thought could happen. It feels amazing, and right now if I felt like we could stay this competitive for the next several years, I would say, yeah, we could get there." But Gordon, of course, has a more immediate goal. "We're just laser-focused on this championship and going to the next race," he said. "I don't think we're going to get to 100 this year, but I hope we get past 93. That would be pretty awesome to get a couple more, and it almost takes a win to get to Homestead. That's our goal, getting to Homestead, whatever it takes." 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
Using average-finish stats, here are your Contender Round favorites 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 When handicapping the 12 drivers in the Contender Round of the Chase Grid, it helps to put one foot in the past and one foot in the present to hopefully make a confident step toward the future. So what we've done is capture the past and present in the form of average-finish stats in order to predict the eight drivers who will advance to the Eliminator Round in the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The three statistical categories we examined are: average finish for the 2014 season, average finish in the past five races and average finish at the Contender Round tracks. These categories were chosen because they will help tell us who has been the most consistent driver this season, as well as who's hot right now and who has the best chance to perform well in the next three races. By assigning a point value to how each driver ranked in each category (example: Jeff Gordon got 12 points for being the best driver in average finish for this season, while Kyle Busch got one point for being the worst), there is a total at the end and four drivers will be eliminated. Sounds fun, right? Let's get to it: Average finish this season Rank Driver Avg. Finish Points 1 Jeff Gordon 10.0 12 2 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 11.0 11 3 Joey Logano 12.2 10 4 Brad Keselowski 12.4 9 5 Jimmie Johnson 13.4 8 6 Matt Kenseth 13.8 7 7 Kevin Harvick 14.0 5.5 8 Ryan Newman 14.0 5.5 9 Carl Edwards 14.8 4 10 Denny Hamlin 15.5 3 11 Kasey Kahne 16.5 2 12 Kyle Busch 17.1 1 Inside the Numbers: It shouldn't surprise any NASCAR fans to see the names at the top of this list. Gordon, Earnhardt Jr., Logano, Keselowski and Johnson have all had great seasons, combining for 19 victories with each driver getting at least three wins. Keselowski leads with five wins, including at Richmond and in the Chase opener at Chicagoland Speedway. Logano and Gordon followed Keselowski by winning the Chase races at New Hampshire and Dover , respectively. Dale Earnhardt Jr. started the season strong with a victory in the Daytona 500 and followed that up by sweeping the races at Pocono, but as we'll see in the next statistical category (last five races), he hasn't been the hottest driver among the Chase participants entering the Contender Round. Average finish last five races Rank Driver Avg. Finish Points 1 Joey Logano 5.8 12 2 Jimmie Johnson 6.4 11 3 Kevin Harvick 9.0 10 4 Jeff Gordon 9.6 9 5 Brad Keselowski 10.0 8 6 Kyle Busch 11.0 7 7 Ryan Newman 11.4 6 8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 12.0 5 9 Kasey Kahne 14.8 4 10 Carl Edwards 15.0 3 11 Matt Kenseth 15.8 1.5 12 Denny Hamlin 15.8 1.5 Inside the Numbers: Junior lands in the middle of the pack with an average finish of 12th in the last five races. That gives him five points in our formula, because he was better than only Denny Hamlin , Matt Kenseth , Carl Edwards and Kasey Kahne . Dale Jr.'s 17th-place finish at Dover followed an 11th at Atlanta, a 12th at Richmond , an 11th at Chicago and a ninth at New Hampshire. Not exactly bad by any means, but he isn't tearing it up, either. Keselowski took home eight points in this category, which might be difficult to believe considering he won two races in this span. But a 39th-place finish at Atlanta to begin the five-race stretch skewed his numbers. If you discount that race, Keselowski's average finish over the past four races is an incredible 2.75 -- so he might be a little hotter than these numbers suggest. Average finish at Contender Round tracks Rank Driver Avg. Finish Points 1 Jimmie Johnson 12.00 12 2 Jeff Gordon 14.20 11 3 Brad Keselowski 14.23 10 4 Carl Edwards 14.33 9 5 Kevin Harvick 14.57 8 6 Matt Kenseth 15.37 7 7 Kasey Kahne 15.40 6 8 Denny Hamlin 15.97 5 9 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 16.53 4 10 Joey Logano 17.63 3 11 Ryan Newman 19.73 2 12 Kyle Busch 19.90 1 Inside the Numbers: Johnson has by far the best average finish at the Contender Round tracks, more than two positions better than his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Gordon. So for those who don't want to see "Six-Time" become "Seven-Time," avert your eyes from this chart -- it's a sign that the No. 48 team could get stronger as the Chase moves on. Kyle Busch has a history of volatility at these tracks, so you might want to choose someone else in the Chase Grid Battle Game presented by Toyota. Fans might be familiar with Busch's struggles at Kansas (average finish of 22.7), which is where his Chase imploded last season, but he's almost equally as bad at Talladega (21.4). Busch said he and crew chief Dave Rogers tried a different car in the spring race at Kansas , leading to a top-15. The Final Outcome Rank Driver Points 1 Jeff Gordon 32 2 Jimmie Johnson 31 3 Brad Keselowski 27 4 Joey Logano 25 5 Kevin Harvick 23.5 6 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 20 7 Carl Edwards 16 8 Matt Kenseth 15.5 9 Ryan Newman 13.5 10 Kasey Kahne 12 11 Denny Hamlin 9.5 12 Kyle Busch 9 There you have it, the eight drivers highlighted in the chart above are the ones with the best chance to move on to the Eliminator Round. Of course, we'll have to see how it actually plays out, but since this was fun, let's try it again when we get to the final eight to see who has the best shot of making the Championship Four. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
See the full list of drivers competing at Kansas RELATED: Follow your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize Entry # Driver Owner Crew chief Manufacturer Sponsor 1 1 Jamie McMurray Felix Sabates Keith Rodden 14 Chevrolet Cessna/Monopoly 2 2 Brad Keselowski Roger Penske Paul Wolfe 14 Ford Miller Lite 3 3 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Gil Martin 14 Chevrolet American Ethanol 4 4 Kevin Harvick Tony Stewart Rodney Childers 14 Chevrolet Budweiser 5 5 Kasey Kahne Linda Hendrick Kenny Francis 14 Chevrolet Farmers Insurance 6 7 Michael Annett Tommy Baldwin Kevin Manion 14 Chevrolet Accell Construction 7 9 Marcos Ambrose Richard Petty Drew Blickensderfer 14 Ford STANLEY 8 10 Danica Patrick Tony Stewart Tony Gibson 14 Chevrolet Aspen Dental 9 11 Denny Hamlin J D Gibbs Darian Grubb 14 Toyota FedEx Office 10 13 Casey Mears Bob Germain Bootie Barker III 14 Chevrolet No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS 11 14 Tony Stewart Margaret Haas Chad Johnston 14 Chevrolet Rush Truck Centers / Mobil 1 12 15 Clint Bowyer Rob Kauffman Brian Pattie 14 Toyota Pink Lemonade 5-hour Energy Benefiting LBBC 13 16 Greg Biffle Jack Roush Matt Puccia 14 Ford 3M Filtrete 14 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr John Henry Michael Kelley 14 Ford Cargill/Sam's Club 15 18 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Dave Rogers 14 Toyota M&M's 16 20 Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Jason Ratcliff 14 Toyota Dollar General 17 22 Joey Logano Walter Czarnecki Todd Gordon 14 Ford Shell Pennzoil 18 23 Alex Bowman Ron Devine Dave Winston 14 Toyota Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry 19 24 Jeff Gordon Rick Hendrick Alan Gustafson 14 Chevrolet Drive To End Hunger 20 26 Cole Whitt Anthony Marlowe Randy Cox 14 Toyota Moen Toyota 21 27 Paul Menard Richard Childress Slugger Labbe 14 Chevrolet Quaker State / Menards 22 31 Ryan Newman Richard Childress Luke Lambert 14 Chevrolet Caterpillar 23 32 Joey Gase(i) Frank Stoddard Jr Ben Leslie 14 Ford Donate Life 24 33 TBA Joe Falk Mike Hillman Jr 14 Chevrolet Little Joe's Autos 25 34 David Ragan Bob Jenkins Jay Guy 14 Ford DOCKSIDE LOGISTICS 26 36 Reed Sorenson Allan Heinke Todd Parrott 14 Chevrolet TBA 27 37 Mike Bliss(i) Tommy Baldwin Tommy Baldwin 14 Chevrolet TBA 28 38 David Gilliland Brad Jenkins Frank Kerr 14 Ford MDS TRANSPORT 29 40 Landon Cassill(i) Michael Hillman Mark Hillman 14 Chevrolet Snap Fitness 30 41 Kurt Busch Gene Haas Daniel Knost 14 Chevrolet Haas Automation 31 42 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Chris Heroy 14 Chevrolet Target 32 43 Aric Almirola Richard Petty Trent Owens 14 Ford Farmland 33 47 A J Allmendinger Tad Geschickter Brian Burns 14 Chevrolet Clorox 34 48 Jimmie Johnson Jeff Gordon Chad Knaus 14 Chevrolet Lowe's 35 51 Justin Allgaier Harry Scott Jr Steve Addington 14 Chevrolet BRANDT Professional Agriculture 36 55 Brian Vickers Michael Waltrip Billy Scott 14 Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 37 66 Mike Wallace(i) Jay Robinson Scott Eggleston 14 Toyota 435 Overland Park Place Hotel 38 78 Martin Truex Jr Barney Visser Todd Berrier 14 Chevrolet Furniture Row 39 83 Travis Kvapil Ron Devine Joe Williams 14 Toyota Burger King Toyota 40 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr Rick Hendrick Steve Letarte 14 Chevrolet Diet Mountain Dew 41 95 Michael McDowell Bob Leavine Wally Rogers 14 Ford LFR 42 98 Josh Wise Mike Curb Gene Nead 14 Chevrolet Westside Vapor/Vapor Station 43 99 Carl Edwards Jack Roush James Fennig 14 Ford Fastenal MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards, Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick all feel the new format forces teams to control what they can control and that luck will play a key role in winning the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.