Chase -clinching scenarios at Pocono
The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup doesn't begin until September, but several drivers could officially clinch a spot in the postseason field this weekend at Pocono Raceway. So far, the five drivers who have clinched Chase berths are Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth. Below are Chase -clinching scenarios for this weekend's Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono: Possible to Clinch: Kevin Harvick (1 win, 671 points, +434 points ahead of 31st): Can clinch with a win. Kurt Busch (1 wins, 627 points, +390 points ahead of 31st): Can clinch with a win. Joey Logano (1 Win, 606 points, +369 points ahead of 31st): Can clinch with a win. Martin Truex Jr (1 win, 573 points, +336 points ahead of 31st): Can clinch with a win. Denny Hamlin (1 win, 542 points, +305 points ahead of 31st): Can clinch with a win. All of the above drivers have already clinched a position in the top 30 in the drivers points standings, but need to clear the multiple wins hurdle. It's possible that no drivers will clinch a Chase berth this weekend if a driver wins his first race of the season or an already-clinched driver wins.
Cain: Kyle Busch, Toyota in driver's seat as Chase approaches
Kyle Busch's dominating performance at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Sunday afternoon spoke enough volumes to fill a small library: -- He joins Jimmie Johnson as the only NASCAR drivers to win back-to-back races at the historic track. -- Busch's 149 laps led in the caution-extended 170-lap race broke an event record and raised the mark all-time. -- He is the first driver to ever sweep both the XFINITY and Sprint Cup series races at Indy two seasons in a row. -- He is the first driver to win both of the weekend's races from the pole position. -- The victory now ties Busch with Brad Keselowski for the most victories this season (four). -- And no one has more top-five finishes (11) entering this week's stop at Pocono than the reigning Sprint Cup champ. "It's fun to come out here and have such a dominant piece at Indy," a grinning Busch, 31, said Sunday. "They don't come along often, so I was just hoping I didn't screw it up." Well, actually, they have come along -- more than normal -- this season. At least for the Camry camp. And perhaps most important to Busch and his Toyota teammates is that Toyota continues to set itself up as the power-keg to reckon with come Chase time -- which is only a little over a month away. The two most dominating performances of the season -- and frankly, recent seasons -- came from Furniture Row Racing driver Martin Truex, whose No. 78 Toyota led a record 392 of the 400 laps in May at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Busch, who contributed another history-maker over the weekend. Five Toyota drivers are among the top 10 in the points standings, and all of them have won this season -- from Denny Hamlin's dramatic photo finish over Truex in the Daytona 500 to Busch's most recent showing at Indy. In fact, three of the top-four finishers Sunday (Busch, runner-up Matt Kenseth and fourth-place finisher Hamlin) drove Toyotas. Toyota has had at least three drivers finish among the top 10 in the past three races. "I think any of us have a shot to win on any given week," Busch said. "We all have a great communication and camaraderie and are able to work together, and that's what makes this team so strong." The entire month of April races belonged to Toyota with Busch's back-to-back wins at Martinsville and Texas and Carl Edwards' two wins at Bristol and Richmond. As impressive as Toyota's 10 wins are, nine have come in the past 15 races. And the real statement is where the wins are: Chase tracks. Six of Toyota's victories have come among the 10 venues the series will visit during the Chase . Busch owns three of the wins (Martinsville, Texas and Kansas), Kenseth has two (Dover and New Hampshire) and Truex took the trophy at Charlotte. Indianapolis may not be a Chase race, but Busch's record-setting performance there shows Toyota is full-speed-ahead as the Chase approaches. "At this level of motorsports and the competition level across the field, you can't hit on one thing and beat people," Busch's crew chief Adam Stevens said after Sunday's race. "You have to hit on everything." &amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;
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Chase Elliott tops final New Hampshire practice
RELATED: Final practice results " Practice 2 results Rookie Chase Elliott zipped to the top spot in final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Elliott guided the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet to a best lap of 131.347 mph in the 55-minute final prep session for Sunday's New Hampshire 301 (1:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The 20-year-old driver will be making his first Sprint Cup start Sunday on the 1.058-mile track. Denny Hamlin , a two-time New Hampshire winner, turned the second-fastest lap at 131.302 mph in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota. He was just ahead of JGR teammate Matt Kenseth , another two-time winner in the Granite State who clocked the third-best lap at 131.044 mph in the No. 20 Toyota. Kevin Harvick , the top points-earner in the Sprint Cup Series this season, was fourth-fastest in final practice at 130.941 mph in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevy. Defending race winner Kyle Busch landed the fifth-fastest lap in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota at 130.891 mph. Jimmie Johnson , who will start first in Sunday's 301-lapper after securing the Coors Light Pole Award in Friday qualifying, was seventh-fastest in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet. Alex Bowman , the replacement driver this weekend for Dale Earnhardt Jr. as he recovers from concussion-like symptoms, registered the 22nd-fastest lap in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet. Sunday's event, the first of two New Hampshire stops for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this season, is the 19th of 36 points-paying races this year. Edwards edges ahead in second practice " Results It was a Joe Gibbs Racing parade at the top of the board with the race team taking the top three spots in the first of two Saturday practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Carl Edwards (No. 19 Toyota) paced the 55-minute session with a fast lap of 131.456 mph, with his JGR teammates Denny Hamlin (131.284 mph, No. 11 Toyota) and Matt Kenseth (131.193 mph, No. 20 Toyota) taking second and third in the session, respectively. Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet) and Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Chase Elliott (No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet) completed the top five with fast laps of 130.914 mph and 130.855 mph, respectively. Defending race winner Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota) made it four-for-four for JGR cars in the top 10 as he posted the seventh-fastest lap. Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet) came in 14th in the session a day after scoring his first Coors Light Pole Award of 2016. Alex Bowman , who is filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet this weekend, placed 24th. Earnhardt is out for Sunday's New Hampshire 301 (1:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) with concussion-like symptoms.
Suarez, Sadler clinch spots in XFINITY Series Chase
RELATED: Full race results " Standings " Chase Grid Daniel Suarez and Elliott Sadler have both clinched spots in the inaugural NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase coming out of the Lilly Diabates 250 on Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Suarez (No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) and Sadler (No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet) already had spots locked up in the top 30 in points, but needed a new Chase -eligible driver not to win at Indianapolis. That was achieved with Kyle Busch's third straight win and seventh victory of the season in the series. Suarez and Sadler join Erik Jones (No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) as the only drivers to officially clinch spots in the 12-driver, elimination-style playoff that will be used in the series this fall. The drivers must start the remaining eight races of the regular season. Jones has two wins (Bristol and Dover), while Suarez and Sadler have one each (Suarez won at Michigan, Sadler at Talladega). The seven-race XFINITY Series Chase opens on Sept. 24 at Kentucky Speedway. MORE: All of 2016's XFINITY winners
Chase Bubble: Analyzing the playoff picture post-Indy
RELATED: See the full Chase Grid Here's a breakdown of the Chase Grid and bubble picture following Sunday's Crown Royal Presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard. LOCKED IN Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson locked up spots in the 16-driver Chase Grid with their performances at Indianapolis. The two join Brad Keselowski , Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch as those who have clinched. All have multiple wins and can't fall out of the top 30 in the standings (a qualifier for making the postseason). WIN, BASICALLY IN The following drivers have won at least once this season and have all but claimed one of the remaining 11 spots: Kevin Harvick (1), Kurt Busch (1), Denny Hamlin (1), Joey Logano (1), Martin Truex Jr. (1) and Tony Stewart (1). That accounts for 11 drivers in the 16-driver postseason field, leaving five spots up for grabs via points. Here's how that picture looks post-Indianapolis. BUBBLE WATCH Editor's note: The standings below are the Chase Grid standings, not the Sprint Cup Series drivers standings.
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Chase -clinching scenarios at Indianapolis
The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup doesn't begin until September, but several drivers have the opportunity to officially clinch a spot in the postseason field this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This weekend, the magic number for Sprint Cup Series drivers is 271 -- as in a driver 271 points ahead of 31st place in the standings following Sunday's race guarantees a spot in the top 30 of the standings, no matter what happens the rest of the regular season. To clinch an early Chase berth, a driver must have multiple wins and lock a top-30 spot. Due to the tight standings, it's also possible for a driver to clinch if he exits Indy with fewer than a 271-point lead over 31st-place, but 271 is the magic number. Brad Keselowski , Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards have already clinched spots in the Chase Grid. Below are Chase -clinching scenarios for this weekend's races at Indianapolis: Possible to Clinch: Jimmie Johnson (2 wins, 514 points, +294 points ahead of 31st): The two-time 2016 winner just needs a top-30 spot to clinch a Chase berth. Matt Kenseth (2 wins, 506 points, +286 points ahead of 31st): Last weekends's New Hampshire winner has multiple wins and just needs a top-30 spot to officially clinch. Kevin Harvick (1 Win, 636 points, +416 points ahead of 31st): Harvick already has clinched his top-30 spot, but the only way he can clinch a Chase berth at this point is by being a multi-race winner. He'll need a win at Indianapolis to officially clinch a spot in the Chase . Kurt Busch (1 win, 601 points, +382 points ahead of 31st): Can clinch with a win. Joey Logano (1 win, 571 points, +351 points ahead of 31st): Can clinch with a win. Martin Truex Jr (1 win, 540 points, +320 points ahead of 31st): Can clinch with a win. Denny Hamlin (1 win, 505 points, +285 points ahead of 31st): Can clinch with a win. NASCAR XFINITY SERIES CHASE The magic number for XFINITY Series drivers was 361. As in, a driver 361 points ahead of 31st place clinched a top-30 spot in the standings. Erik Jones had already locked up a spot in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase before Indianapolis. Clinched: Daniel Suarez (1 Win, 608 Points, +510 Points Ahead of 31st): Suarez finished seventh at Indianapolis and clinched after a Chase -eligible driver did not win on Saturday. Elliott Sadler (1 Win, 594 Points, +496 Points Ahead of 31st): Although he missed out on the Dash 4 Cash prize by one spot, Sadler's sixth-place finish at Indianapolis was enough to clinch a Chase berth.
Tony Stewart Chase Watch
RELATED: Full New Hampshire results " Standings " Chase Grid SHOP: Stewart gear Tony Stewart returned from a back injury in April and the three-time Sprint Cup Series champion is in pursuit of one of the 16 spots in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in his final season. Here's a look at where the driver of the No. 14 Chevrolet stands in his hunt after Sunday's runner-up finish in the New Hampshire 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the season's 19th of 26 regular-season races. WHAT JUST HAPPENED The three-time champion followed a top-five finish at Kentucky with a runner-up in the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet at New Hampshire, Stewart's second-best showing of the season. That moved Stewart into 28th place in the drivers point standings. With a win locked up at Sonoma, inside the top 30 is where Stewart needs to be in order to make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. As it stands now, he's in the provisional Chase Grid. He leads 29th-place Landon Cassill by three points and 31st-place driver Brian Scott by 67 points. WHAT HE NEEDS Stewart received a waiver from NASCAR for Chase eligibility. The surest way into the Chase is by winning before the end of regular season (at Richmond International Raceway on Sept. 10) -- which Stewart did at Sonoma -- and remain in the top 30 in the points standings. En route to his 2015 championship, Kyle Busch faced a similar path after missing the first 11 races with a leg injury. With the win in the bank, Stewart can focus on remaining in the top 30. He sits 28th in the standings with 287 points. He is six points beind Casey Mears , who sits at 27th place in the standings. WHAT'S NEXT "Smoke" heads to his hometrack of Indianapolis Motor Speedway (July 24 at 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, IMS Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), where he has two victories. In his 17 starts there, Stewart has seven top fives and 11 top 10s. &amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;gt;
Kyle Busch, Edwards officially sew up Chase berths
RELATED: Updated Chase Grid " Stewart Chase watch Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards officially clinched berths in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs based on their finishes in Sunday's race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Busch, the defending series champion, led a race-high 133 laps and finished eighth in Sunday's New Hampshire 301. Edwards faded to a 20th-place finish after involvement in a crash that forced the last of the race's seven yellow flags. Each qualify for championship eligibility in the 10-race postseason based on their status as multiple winners in the regular season and because of their points stature in the Sprint Cup driver standings, mathematically unable to fall outside of the top 30 requirement. "With NASCAR, it's our playoff. That's what it's all about," said Coach Joe Gibbs, whose organization fields four full-time Toyota teams including the No. 18 for Busch and No. 19 for Edwards. "It's a thrill for us to be in there. I think the key is, as you continue to work during the year, try and keep your performance up and try and point towards the playoffs. When you get to the playoffs, you never know what's going to happen because it's a little three‑race playoff. That's what it is. You take your best shot, but what you want to do is hopefully continue to improve as the year goes along, and that's kind of our goal." Heading into Sunday's 301-lapper, Brad Keselowski was the only certified Chase -eligible driver, based on his points position and status as a winner of multiple regular-season races. Keselowski leads the series this year with four victories. Seven regular-season races remain before the 16-driver championship field is set. Eleven drivers have scored regular-season wins to virtually secure Chase berths, leaving five spots open for competitors to race their way into the playoffs with victories or points. The Sprint Cup Series' next race -- the Crown Royal Presents The Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard -- is scheduled Sunday, July 24 (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, IMS, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.