NASCAR drivers, in the past, have been accused of not being actual athletes. If prior events failed to disprove that accusation, then circumstances from last weekend’s race surely shot it down. In the first race of the Chase at Chicagoland last weekend, there were many long green flag runs. Chase favorite Kevin Harvick looked to be a good contender for a victory until contact with Jimmie Johnson cut his tire and caused him to spin. After the race, Harvick confronted Johnson in the garage area, and gave him a little shove to show his displeasure. With an unimpressive finish, Harvick will need to work hard the next two weeks to make it to the next Chase round.
After tearing his ACL just days before racing, Denny Hamlin made an impressive run on Sunday continuing the Joe Gibbs Racing domination. Recovery from an early spin in the race, and the right call on pit road proved to be the perfect storm to get Hamlin his second victory this season. With this win, Hamlin is secured into the second round of the Chase.
In other NASCAR news, Clint Bowyer and his No. 15 team were penalized for an infraction during opening day inspection. Bowyer was fined 25 drivers points, Crew Chief Billy Scott was fined $75,000 and suspended for the next three races, and Car Owner Rob Kauffman was penalized 25 owners points.
This week brings the second race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, held at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, more commonly referred to as Loudon. Loudon is a one mile oval track with twelve degree banking in the turns. Drivers will maneuver 300 laps around the track to complete the Sylvania 300. New Hampshire Motor Speedway boasts one of the most unique victory lane gifts, a giant, live lobster.
The following drivers are the Fast Five to look out for this weekend: Denny Hamlin, who is a two-time winner at this track and definitely has momentum going into this weekend; Brad Keselowski, who posted a runner-up finish at Loudon in July; Kevin Harvick, who will be diligent in working to get a successful finish this weekend and posted a third place finish at this track in July; Joey Logano, who’s had a dominant season and finished in the top five at Loudon in July; and Jimmie Johnson, who is a three time winner at this track and holds the best average finishing position among active drivers. In addition to the Fast Five, keep an eye out for Ryan Newman as the dark horse. This is an important race for drivers facing possible elimination from the Chase.
Tune into the race Sunday at 2:00 on NBCSN.