Phone call changes Jimmie Johnson's Chase outlook
RELATED: See the Chase Grid LOUDON, N.H. -- Jimmie Johnson felt certain he'd be facing a much larger deficit in the second event of the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. A points penalty for his Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet failing its post-race pass through the Laser Inspection Station (LIS) platform last week likely would have dropped him into the bottom four of the 16-driver postseason field. But Johnson said he received a phone call Wednesday afternoon on his way back from his race shop that altered his outlook. NASCAR competition officials had just implemented a midweek update regarding minor LIS infractions, offering a reprieve for both himself and the Furniture Row Racing No. 78 team of last weekend's race winner, Martin Truex Jr . "I was just taking my lumps and going on with my business and then kind of Christmas showed up in September," Johnson said Friday after qualifying fourth for Sunday's Bad Boy Off Road 300 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM) at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . "Just unexpected, but happy." NASCAR's competition department announced Wednesday that P2 and P3-level penalties would be eliminated for lesser LIS violations found in post-race inspections, leaving the stricter P4-grade punishments in place for more egregious infractions. Truex, who automatically advanced to the Chase's next round with his victory at Chicagoland Speedway , and Johnson were not penalized in the points standings. Johnson said he was pleasantly surprised, though he knew his car was slightly outside of the allowable measurements for its rear axle offset, or "skew." "I really feel NASCAR was trying to create a penalty system that was more forgiving," Johnson said. "Stuff bends, stuff moves, and they set those tolerances up to really help the garage area and then to keep cars failing out of the headlines. But it's tough. There's a lot of moving parts in these cars and of course we're trying to get as much skew as we can and we failed. "I'm sure directionally, it was an advantage. Everybody will take every hundredth of an inch they can get. I think we were four thousandths over. I don't know how much of an advantage you can get in four thousandths. That's awfully, awfully small, but we're in a world now where it's black or white." The non-penalty kept Johnson in the heart of the Chase's opening round, slotted eighth with a 13-point spread behind series leader Truex. Four drivers will be eliminated from championship eligibility after next weekend's race at Dover International Speedway , where Johnson has won a record 10 times. Johnson's current ranking could be worse had the penalty taken effect, but it could have been better as well. Johnson was solidly on the verge of a top-five finish last week at Chicagoland, but a pit-road speeding penalty on his penultimate stop bumped him outside the top 10. Johnson said he began to accelerate just 2 feet too early at the pit-exit line, sending him over the speed limit for the final timing section and offsetting the performance strides the No. 48 team had made in recent weeks. "We've definitely been showing speed over the last month and a half," Johnson said. "That's been something that's very welcomed and it's been a lot of hard work to get to that point. Unfortunately, mistakes still are continuing to happen and last week was on me." RELATED: Hear Johnson's reaction on the scanner
Chase Bubble: Points update before regular-season finale
RELATED: Provisional Chase Grid Here's a breakdown of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Grid and bubble picture after Sunday's Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway . NO NEW WINNER, NO CHANGES Martin Truex Jr . already had clinched a Chase spot, so his win at Darlington didn't cause any changes in the Chase Grid. There was a moment of uncertainty when Ryan Newman led for Laps 330-338 of the 367-lap race, however. But Newman slipped back, and he remains the first driver outside the Chase Grid. Newman also faces a potential penalty for failing post-race Laser Inspection System at Darlington. Jamie McMurray currently clings to the final Chase berth with one regular-season event at Richmond remaining. BUESCHER'S STANDING Chris Buescher 's 17th-place finish helped boost his Chase chances. Buescher prevailed at Pocono Raceway in August to check off one requirement for Chase eligibility; the second is a place among the top 30 in the Sprint Cup driver standings. Buescher remains 30th in the standings, increasing his lead over 31st-place David Ragan to 11 points . LOCKED IN Drivers who have clinched a spot in the Chase are: Brad Keselowski , Carl Edwards , Kyle Busch , Matt Kenseth , Jimmie Johnson , Kevin Harvick , Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr . (all with multiple wins), along with one-win drivers Kurt Busch , Kyle Larson , Joey Logano and Tony Stewart . Chris Buescher is currently in the Chase Grid, but has not clinched a spot. After Sunday's 500-miler, just one regular-season race (Richmond) remains before the 16-driver postseason field is settled. BUBBLE WATCH With 25 of 26 regular-season races complete, just three at-large spots (at present) for non-winners remain available. Here's how that picture looks post-Darlington. Editor's note: The standings below are the Chase Grid standings, not the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers' standings.
Keselowski grinds out top five on 'so-so day'
RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Chase Grid SHOP: Keselowski gear " Chase gear LOUDON, N.H. -- As one of the resident wizards of the "Magic Mile" over the past five years, it was a little curious to see Brad Keselowski -- who sports a 6.27 average finish at the track since the fall race of 2011 – come out a little flat in Sunday's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. For his latest trick, the Team Penske driver entered the top 10 for good at Lap 270 of 300 and continued to rise from there, sticking the landing with a fourth-place finish that was nearly a third, save for a late pass from Kyle Busch. "We caught a couple breaks on the restarts that helped out. Pleasantly surprised (at how this race turned out)," Keselowski said on pit road following the race. " … It was just a good call there towards the end to put tires on and then just being smooth and keeping it in one piece driving through traffic. … Sometimes you catch some good breaks in this sport. … It was just a really great finish to kind of just a so-so day." While the recovery portends well for Keselowski's hopes of advancing into the Round of 12, the speed that his car lacked at New Hampshire should be of some concern for the 2 team as the Chase continues. The 2012 champ pins it on this week's rules update for post-race inspection that eliminated P2 and P3-level penalties for infractions resulting from the laser inspection system . "I think that rules change at the last minute was certainly not very favorable to our team," said Keselowski, in search of his first win since early July at Kentucky. "We've got to work to find a little more speed for sure." The No. 2 crew chief, Paul Wolfe, pins the lack of performance on a swing-and-a-miss setup after they couldn't quite nail down what they were looking for in Saturday's practice sessions. "The car never drove like what we've had here in the past. We were kind of on the fence about where we wanted to be today as far as set-up wise. There were a couple things we went through in practice yesterday and we picked a direction that obviously wasn't good," Wolfe told NASCAR.com. "So we just really struggled to get any speed out of the car all day. Just tried to stay calm, get what we could and not get in trouble. Brad was doing a good job of that. There at the end, the position we were in I felt it was worth putting tires on it and it was really the new tires and a couple of good restarts that got us to the front. "Definitely not the performance or the speed in the car that we were hoping for today, but we were able to get a good finish out of it and at this point of the Chase, that's obviously the important part." Keselowski now heads to the Dover International Speedway with a little more of a cushion -- he's the overall points leader, though second and sixth-place (in the point standings) drivers Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick, respectively, have clinched their Round of 12 berths -- than it looked like he'd have for most of the race, and should be a lock to advance save for a major, catastrophic mishap. "It feels good to go to Dover and be able to sleep easy knowing that if you have a part failure or get caught up in a wreck or any of those silly things that can happen that aren't you fault, you don’t have to worry about them so that's good," he said. "But we still have some work to do to get a little faster.”
Harvick charges to New Hampshire win with late-race surge
RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Updated Chase Grid SHOP: Harvick gear " Chase gear LOUDON, N.H. -- Remember last week, when Kevin Harvick was trapped a lap down at Chicagoland Speedway , finished 20th and fell out of the top 12 in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings? Remember last year, when Harvick crashed at Chicagoland and ran out of fuel while leading at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and had to win at Dover to advance in the Chase? That's all moot, now that Harvick redeemed himself with a victory in Sunday's Bad Boy Off Road 300 at New Hampshire, the second race in the Chase. Surging ahead of Matt Kenseth after a restart with six laps left in the 300-lap event at the 1.058-mile track, Harvick pulled away to win by .442 seconds and joined Chicagoland winner Martin Truex Jr . in the Chase's Round of 12. "One of our main goals this year was to not stress ourselves out so bad," said Harvick, who won last year's Dover race to escape the Round of 16 in his last opportunity. "I feel like the performance of the car and the things that we're doing are good enough to be competitive, and we just need to not make mistakes and go from there." Harvick got his opportunity to win the race when Ricky Stenhouse Jr . and Reed Sorenson collided on the backstretch on Lap 291 to bring out the sixth and final caution of the race. Starting on the inside lane and timing the restart perfectly, Harvick stayed side-by-side with Kenseth entering the first corner and cleared Kenseth's No. 20 Toyota through Turn 2. Kenseth was unable to get back to the rear bumper of Harvick’s No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet over the final six laps. "Man, that worked out really good," said Harvick, who won for the second time at the Magic Mile, the third time this season and the 34th time in his career. "The car was pretty good on the restarts. Once we got clean air there at the end, it wound up being really good up front. I'm just really proud of our team. They did a great job." NASCAR admonished Kenseth before the final restart not to slow down in the restart zone, as the sanctioning body believed he had done on the previous restart, when Kenseth held off Truex for the lead. "They made it sound like I slowed down the last time," Kenseth said. "But in my opinion, the leader is always supposed to have the advantage. He's the leader. He earned that advantage. They said I slowed down a little bit last time, which I've got to re-watch it. "I don't really think I did, but if I did at all, it's because the inside car (Truex) was laying back a little bit, and you want to make sure he gets up to your nose so it's a fair restart. If he's back at your door and anticipates a little bit, it's not a fair restart. He's going to be equal to you or a little bit better." Then Kenseth second-guessed the way he handled the final restart with Harvick beside him. "I saw Kevin at my door, and I should have known better," Kenseth said. "I should have went deep in the box and waited, and the acceleration was probably better down there anyway, but I didn't. I went right at the first line, and he anticipated a little bit of that and got rolling good through the gears, and then I got through the gears bad. I spun the tires in second (gear), I spun the tires in third, so I had a really bad restart besides all that." Kyle Busch finished third behind Harvick and Kenseth after pitting for fresh tires under caution on Lap 265 and charging through the field. Brad Keselowski ran fourth and took over the Chase points lead by one point over Truex, who led a race-high 141 laps in a seventh-place run but wore out his tires trying to pass Kenseth after a restart on Lap 269. Kurt Busch came home fifth, followed by polesitter Carl Edwards , Truex, Jimmie Johnson , Kasey Kahne and Kyle Larson . Harvick escaped the bottom four in the standings, and that left Jamie McMurray , Austin Dillon , Tony Stewart and Chris Buescher all needing to improve their positions to avoid elimination next Sunday at Dover International Speedway . McMurray and Dillon (19th and 16th, respectively, at New Hampshire) are five points behind Larson in 12th place. Stewart is 11 points back of Larson after a 23rd-place run on Sunday, and Buescher trails by 30 points , needing a Dover miracle. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Bruce: XFINITY Chase intensity ratchets up aggression
RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Chase Grid SPARTA, Ky. -- Was Saturday night's opening Chase race for NASCAR’s XFINITY Series an example of good, hard racing or a case of folks driving over their heads? That depends on who one asked afterward. Race winner Elliott Sadler wasn’t pointing fingers, and race winners have rarely been heard to utter a discouraging word. But the JR Motorsports driver said he did notice an uptick in intensity during the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway . "About halfway through the race, it was 'note to self; you can tell it's the Chase because it was caution after caution after caution," Sadler said afterward. "People were tense, eager, frustrated, nervous. A lot of different things going on with drivers right now ... trying to make it to the second (round). "I think people are giving each other less room. Restarts are crazy in the back." They were crazy up front, too. The race, which kicked off a seven-race, two-round elimination playoff for the series, saw the caution flag fly a track record 12 times. More than one-fourth of the race (64 laps) was run under the yellow. Yes, there was even a brief (5 min., 34 sec.) red-flag period. Erik Jones , the top seed and regular-season leader in race wins, got crossed up while racing with Ty Dillon and both the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota and the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet ended up in the wall. RELATED: See the wreck the caught two title contenders Each is now outside eighth place in points with two races to try and improve their standing; only the top eight (with the exception of a Chase race winner that might be 9th-12th ) advance to the second round. Not surprisingly, Jones wasn't particularly pleased with the early ending to his night and said later that the aggressive driving does cause one to approach the race differently. "Yeah, it makes me try to stay out of trouble," he said. "I didn't want to have something like that happen. ... You try to play defense some. I was for sure." Of course, there was the matter of a reconfigured track that sports new asphalt and distinctly different turns. That, too, played a role in the difficulties for some. And that was to be expected, said Brendan Gaughan , driver of the No. 62 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing . "It didn't seem like it was any more aggressive than normal," Gaughan said after finishing sixth. "It's a very narrow race track here right now. That Turn 3 is treacherous, man. There's no grip on the entry, there's no width on the entry. It's a treacherous, treacherous place at the moment. ... "It's still Kentucky. I love it." The fight to advance into the next round began early, but it's not the only battle going on and Saturday night's race brought some of that to light. In addition to the driver's championship, there's an owners title at stake and a couple of teams didn’t forget about that. At the end of the regular season, the No. 2 team of RCR was atop the owners' standings, followed by the No. 18 of Joe Gibbs Racing , the No. 1 of JRM with Sadler behind the wheel, and the No. 22 of Team Penske . Chevy, Toyota, Chevy and Ford. You think those folks aren't paying close attention? RCR brought in Sam Hornish Jr . to keep the No. 2 team in the hunt; Penske handed the reins to Sprint Cup driver Ryan Blaney . Sadler got the win, but a solid fifth-place run by Matt Tifft put the JGR No. 18 atop the owners' standings. JRM (No. 1) now sits second thanks to the victory while Hornish, who finished fourth, kept the RCR entry in the mix -- it's now third. Blaney did not fare badly but the way it all shook out left him third on the track and the team now fifth in the owners' battle. Dover, a fast, unforgiving mile of concrete, is up next. Some folks will be looking to rebound, some looking to continue to ride a hot start. If Kentucky was any indication, they better hope they can just hang on.
Larson sweeps all three Sprint Cup practices at New Hampshire
RELATED: Full results for final practice " Fastest 10-lap averages Kyle Larson made it a perfect sweep of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practices, as his No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Chevrolet flew to the top of the leaderboard at 132.577 mph in Saturday's final practice session at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . Larson paced the field in Friday's lone session and tied Martin Truex Jr . for the fastest speed/time in Saturday's morning practice. Joe Gibbs Racing 's Denny Hamlin made a late surge to nab the second spot on the speed charts, wheeling his No. 11 Toyota at 132.549 mph. Hendrick Motorsports ' Kasey Kahne laid down the third-fastest speed, his No. 5 Chevrolet peaking at 132.489 mph. Kahne and teammate Alex Bowman (10th), who is driving the No. 88 Chevrolet for Dale Earnhardt Jr . this weekend, were the only non-Chase drivers to record top-15 speeds in the final session. Pole sitter Carl Edwards came up fourth in his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota (132.420 mph), while Hendrick Motorsports ' Jimmie Johnson completed the top five with a fast speed of 132.255 mph from his No. 48 Chevrolet. Points leader Truex Jr. -- who tied Larson for the fastest speed in practice earlier today -- ranked sixth in the field this session, propelling his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota at 132.250 mph. Reigning race winner Matt Kenseth was seventh-fastest, his No. 20 JGR Toyota topping out at 132.222 mph. Jamie McMurray (18th), Austin Dillon (22nd) and Chris Buescher (28th) were the only Chase drivers to record practice speeds outside the top 15. The Sprint Cup Series returns to the track Sunday for the Bad Boy Off Road 300 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN/NBC Sports App, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). RELATED: Full results for Practice 2 Kyle Larson and Martin Truex Jr . both reached 132.186 mph early in the second Sprint Cup Series practice at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday morning. The Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates driver also paced the field during Friday's lone Sprint Cup practice session in his No. 42 Chevrolet. Last weekend's Chicagoland winner, Truex Jr. in his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota laid down the exact same speed (132.186 mph) and lap time (28.814 seconds) as Larson in the 55-minute session. Reigning race winner Matt Kenseth was third-fastest, his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota reaching a top speed of 132.085 mph, while his JGR teammate Denny Hamlin came up fourth in the field (132.030 mph). Hendrick Motorsports ' Chase Elliott rounded out the top five with a top speed of 131.980 mph in his No. 24 Chevrolet. Coors Light Pole winner Carl Edwards was sixth-fastest in his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. The top-nine performers in the second session were all Chase drivers and Chasers made up 11 of the top-15; Brad Keselowski (18th), Tony Stewart (19th), Austin Dillon (23rd) and Chris Buescher (33rd) were the outlying Chase competitors.
Top 10 consecutive lap averages at New Hampshire
RESULTS: Practice 1 Pos Car Driver From Lap To Lap Avg Speed 1 5 Kasey Kahne 5 14 131.273 2 10 Danica Patrick 1 10 126.870 RESULTS: Practice 2 Pos Car Driver From Lap To Lap Avg Speed 1 78 Martin Truex Jr 2 11 131.139 2 20 Matt Kenseth 15 24 131.033 3 18 Kyle Busch 23 32 130.757 4 11 Denny Hamlin 24 33 130.754 5 24 Chase Elliott # 3 12 130.576 6 42 Kyle Larson 24 33 130.559 7 27 Paul Menard 2 11 130.472 8 31 Ryan Newman 2 11 130.462 9 88 Alex Bowman (i) 32 41 130.366 10 48 Jimmie Johnson 3 12 130.334 11 19 Carl Edwards 8 17 130.316 12 1 Jamie McMurray 6 15 129.924 13 41 Kurt Busch 20 29 129.825 14 23 David Ragan 1 10 129.795 15 3 Austin Dillon 17 26 129.785 16 2 Brad Keselowski 20 29 129.499 17 43 Aric Almirola 13 22 129.476 18 44 Brian Scott # 27 36 128.899 19 95 Michael McDowell 6 15 128.823 20 21 * Ryan Blaney # 1 10 128.743 21 15 Clint Bowyer 9 18 128.458 22 34 Chris Buescher # 26 35 127.980 RESULTS: Practice 3 Pos Car Driver From Lap To Lap Avg Speed 1 19 Carl Edwards 13 22 131.663 2 4 Kevin Harvick 28 37 131.401 3 42 Kyle Larson 24 33 131.342 4 18 Kyle Busch 35 44 131.337 5 48 Jimmie Johnson 1 10 131.279 6 11 Denny Hamlin 2 11 131.167 7 24 Chase Elliott # 34 43 131.113 8 5 Kasey Kahne 1 10 131.069 9 20 Matt Kenseth 2 11 130.927 10 88 Alex Bowman (i) 1 10 130.902 11 41 Kurt Busch 23 32 130.869 12 78 Martin Truex Jr 2 11 130.842 13 2 Brad Keselowski 34 43 130.761 14 22 Joey Logano 23 32 130.705 15 14 Tony Stewart 1 10 130.675 16 27 Paul Menard 3 12 130.561 17 31 Ryan Newman 1 10 130.411 18 1 Jamie McMurray 1 10 130.216 19 3 Austin Dillon 18 27 129.938 20 43 Aric Almirola 1 10 129.656 21 47 AJ Allmendinger 1 10 129.645 22 6 Trevor Bayne 19 28 129.635 23 10 Danica Patrick 27 36 129.247 24 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr 16 25 129.231 25 21 * Ryan Blaney # 22 31 129.058 26 44 Brian Scott # 20 29 128.788 27 7 Regan Smith 1 10 128.720 28 95 Michael McDowell 1 10 128.572 29 16 Greg Biffle 7 16 128.554 30 13 Casey Mears 16 25 128.542 31 34 Chris Buescher # 24 33 128.528 32 15 Clint Bowyer 22 31 128.318 33 23 David Ragan 1 10 128.176 34 38 Landon Cassill 30 39 127.961 *Car must run 10 consecutive laps on the track to be included in the above chart. # denotes rookie (i) denotes ineligible for points
Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup clinching scenarios for Round of 12 spots
The Citizen Soldier 400 (Sunday, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Dover International Speedway marks the first elimination of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup as the field shrinks from 16 drivers to 12. How can drivers advance to the Round of 12? Martin Truex Jr . and Kevin Harvick are already locked into the next round with victories at Chicagoland and New Hampshire, respectively. Here's a look at how drivers can clinch spots in the next round. Possible to Clinch: — Brad Keselowski (0 Wins, 2087 Points ) - Would clinch on points with 12 Points (29th and no laps led, 30th and led at least one lap, 31st and led most laps) and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner, he would clinch on points with 7 Points (34th and no laps led, 35th and led at least one lap, 36th and led most laps). With a win, he would clinch a next round spot on wins. — Kyle Busch (0 Wins, 2085 Points ) - Would clinch on points with 14 Points (27th and no laps led, 28th and led at least one lap, 29th and led most laps) and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner, he would clinch on points with 9 Points (32nd and no laps led, 33rd and led at least one lap, 34th and led most laps). With a win, he would clinch a next round spot on wins. — Matt Kenseth (0 Wins, 2078 Points ) - Would clinch on points with 20 Points (21st and no laps led, 22nd and led at least one lap, 23rd and led most laps) and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner, he would clinch on points with 15 Points (26th and no laps led, 27th and led at least one lap, 28th and led most laps). With a win, he would clinch a next round spot on wins. — Joey Logano (0 Wins, 2073 Points ) - Would clinch on points with 26 Points (15th and no laps led, 16th and led at least one lap, 17th and led most laps) and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner, he would clinch on points with 21 Points (20th and no laps led, 21st and led at least one lap, 22nd and led most laps). With a win, he would clinch a next round spot on wins. — Denny Hamlin (0 Wins, 2071 Points ) - Would clinch on points with 28 Points (13th and no laps led, 14th and led at least one lap, 15th and led most laps) and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner, he would clinch on points with 23 Points (18th and no laps led, 19th and led at least one lap, 20th and led most laps). With a win, he would clinch a next round spot on wins. — Jimmie Johnson (0 Wins, 2070 Points ) - Would clinch on points with 29 Points (12th and no laps led, 13th and led at least one lap, 14th and led most laps) and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner, he would clinch on points with 24 Points (17th and no laps led, 18th and led at least one lap, 19th and led most laps). With a win, he would clinch a next round spot on wins. — Chase Elliott (0 Wins, 2068 Points ) - Would clinch on points with 31 Points (10th and no laps led, 11th and led at least one lap, 12th and led most laps) and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner, he would clinch on points with 26 Points (15th and no laps led, 16th and led at least one lap, 17th and led most laps). With a win, he would clinch a next round spot on wins. — Carl Edwards (0 Wins, 2068 Points ) - Would clinch on points with 31 Points (10th and no laps led, 11th and led at least one lap, 12th and led most laps) and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner, he would clinch on points with 26 Points (15th and no laps led, 16th and led at least one lap, 17th and led most laps). With a win, he would clinch a next round spot on wins. — Kurt Busch (0 Wins, 2067 Points ) - Would clinch on points with 32 Points (9th and no laps led, 10th and led at least one lap, 11th and led most laps) and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner, he would clinch on points with 27 Points (14th and no laps led, 15th and led at least one lap, 16th and led most laps). With a win, he would clinch a next round spot on wins. — Kyle Larson (0 Wins, 2057 Points ) - If there is a repeat winner, he would clinch on points with 37 Points (4th and no laps led, 5th and led at least one lap, 6th and led most laps). With a win, he would clinch a next round spot on wins. Could clinch on points with a new winner and help. For the following, the only guaranteed clinch would be with a win. Each could clinch without a win, but would need varying levels of help, however: — Jamie McMurray (0 Wins, 2052 Points ) — Austin Dillon (0 Wins, 2052 Points ) — Tony Stewart (0 Wins, 2046 Points ) — Chris Buescher (0 Wins, 2027 Points )
Chase Bubble Watch: Harvick, Stewart head in opposite directions
RELATED: Full race results " Updated Chase Grid SHOP: Chase gear Two races into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and several drivers are in jeopardy of not advancing past the Round of 16, which ends next Sunday at Dover International Speedway (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Let's find out which drivers are resting comfortably following Sunday's Bad Boy Off Road 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . Who's hot: Kevin Harvick . Harvick came into Loudon one point shy of advancement after a dismal showing (20th) in the Chase opener in Chicago. The 2014 champion and the man nicknamed "The Closer" came on strong on the final restart to take the lead on Lap 295 and nab a win and a locked-in spot in the Round of 12. The victory, in which he only led eight laps, has to erase a little bit of the bitter taste from last fall's race at New Hampshire, where Harvick led 216 laps but ran out of fuel with two to go. Matt Kenseth . Kenseth came into this race with two straight wins at the "Magic Mile" and looked to be closing in on his third-straight win before Harvick surged on a late restart. The 2003 champion led 105 laps en route to a runner-up finish and moved up to fourth in the standings, 25 points to the good of transferring into the next round. Adding to his good karma: Kenseth is the most recent winner at Dover, the series' next stop before four drivers are eliminated from the Chase. Who's not: Tony Stewart : The three-time champion was stuck a lap down for much of the second half of the race and finished 23rd, the second-lowest finish among the Chase field. The result had to be disappointing for "Smoke" after a runner-up showing at New Hampshire in July. Following a summer surge thanks to his Sonoma win, Stewart has not notched a top-10 finish in six races and is on the wrong side of the Chase cut line heading to Dover. Austin Dillon . The weekend started rough when a wreck in the latter stages of the opening practice forced the Richard Childress Racing No. 3 team to pull out a backup car. Dillon's 16th-place finish was aided by a few late cautions to get him back on the lead lap, but he is still five points behind the cutoff line. On top of that, his overall numbers at Dover (see below) have the Chase rookie in a very tough spot to advance. Four in, four out: Here's a look at the Chase bubble, with four drivers being eliminated after the third race of this round, at Dover International Speedway .
Late wreck hinders Chase position for Jones, Dillon
RELATED: Results " Chase Grid " Standings MORE: Watch the incident " Dillon talks about the wreck SPARTA, Ky. -- Erik Jones looked every bit the part of a pre-Chase favorite Saturday at Kentucky Speedway until a crash with barely more than 10 laps remaining took the Joe Gibbs Racing driver out of contention. Jones led exactly one-half of the 200 laps that made up the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 . But the field had barely gone back to green-flag racing on Lap 188 when the back end of Jones' No. 20 Toyota came around as he found himself three-wide in Turn 3 with Ty Dillon ( Richard Childress Racing ) on his outside and JGR teammate Daniel Suarez underneath. "I got sucked around," a disappointed Jones said after exiting the infield care center. "I slammed on the brakes trying to slow down but Ty had been holding me really tight there on the restart, slamming doors in (Turns) 1 and 2. He was on me pretty tight down there. "It was my fault, but it's tough when you're in that situation." The pole winner for the NASCAR XFINITY Series' inaugural opening Chase race, Jones came into the race as the No. 1 seed thanks to four wins during the regular season. The 28th-place finish dropped him from first to ninth in the standings with two races remaining in the opening Chase segment. "It definitely looks like we're going to have to run really well at Dover and Charlotte, if not get a win," jones said. "Getting knocked out there is not a good situation for us. I thought we could probably get a win tonight and get locked in (to the next round), but we'll have to do pretty good here the next two (races) to move on." The race, won by JR Motorsports driver Elliott Sadler , was slowed by a track-record 12 cautions for 64 laps. Aggressive maneuvers saw the field flare out three-and four-wide on numerous restarts. "I was definitely playing more defense on restarts than I ever have been in my career, just trying to guard and make sure I was in one piece," Jones said, "but there's only so much you can do before one of those times you run out of luck." Dillon, who led 47 laps around the 1.5-mile track, finished one positon ahead of Jones in 27th and fell eight spots, from fourth to 12th in points , with the setback. Only eight of the 12 Chase drivers will advance to the second round. "I had a pretty good restart there and had a good run on the 20," Dillon said of the incident with Jones. "I heard him get loose and he had to lift and there was nowhere I can go. "It just sucks to start off the Chase like that we're in a hole but we had speed tonight so we can win races. It just hurts and then you see the 1 (Sadler) win; we were better than him all night." "It's so fast around here but one groove and things like that are going to happen, especially when everybody is trying to get locked into that Chase." Jones and Dillon weren't the only Chase drivers to find themselves involved in on-track incidents -- toss Justin Allgaier (P9), Ryan Sieg (P16), runner-up Daniel Suarez (P2) into the mix as well. Most, if not all, were able to recover, however. "I think we can win anytime we come to the race track," Jones said, "but we beat ourselves a lot this year and we did it again tonight and that's unfortunate."