History will be made at Dover International Speedway this weekend, as the first-ever “knockout race” in the newly formatted Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup comes to town for the Sunday, Sept. 28 “AAA 400” NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
Sixteen drivers enter the event with championship hopes alive, and as of now only Penske Racing drivers Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano have guaranteed advancement, respectively winning the first two races in this year’s Chase.
Brad Keselowski, along with Penske Racing teammate Joey Logano, have advanced beyond the first round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. (Getty Images)
That means 14 other drivers will vie for 10 spots, and with the points air tight coming to the Monster Mile this weekend, there is sure to be some heartbreak at day’s end, because “For Four, It’s Over in Dover.
In addition to Keselowski and Logano, drivers Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon have compiled enough points through the first two races that, barring a disastrous day, they should be able to advance out of the Challenger Round and into the Contender Round as the field narrows to 12.
If all goes well for those five drivers, then that only leaves five spots for nine others, including Matt Kenseth, who is eight points ahead of the cutoff, Carl Edwards (+8), A.J. Allmendinger (+7), Kasey Kahne (+6) and Ryan Newman (+6). Those just barely on the outside and looking in are Denny Hamlin, six points outside the top-12, Greg Biffle (-6), Kurt Busch (-8) and Aric Almirola (-10).
With so few points separating the top bubble driver, Kenseth, and the furthest out, Almirola, track position will mean everything in this Sunday’s race at Dover.
Of course, for those nine drivers, not to mention the five that are comfortable in points right now, the easiest way to advance beyond the Monster Mile is to tame the one-mile, concrete oval and end up in Sunoco Victory Lane at day’s end with a victory. That guarantees a pass into the field of 12.
In the event that the 12th and final position comes down to a tiebreaker, only the three races in the Challenger Round matter, as wins and finishes in the regular season will not count. This means that the drivers, especially the nine on the bubble, will need to attempt to run up front to challenge for the win.
If they can’t win, they’ll need to have more second-place finishes, third-place finishes, etc. than their competitors in order to break the tie and advance. If the two drivers have the exact same finishes, the tie-breaker then goes to the driver who scored the best finish first.
Tickets are still available for the Sept. 28, 2014 “AAA 400” NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway. For tickets or more information, call 800-441-RACE or click here.