Last weekend’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway resulted in heartbreaking finishes for several Chase contenders. Kevin Harvick clearly had the most dominant car throughout the race, winning restarts and leading the most laps. However, all of those factors became irrelevant when Harvick ran out of gas on the last leg of the race. The No. 4 team defended that their fuel calculations were correct and that Harvick had saved enough fuel, but claimed that the fuel cell was leaking or the tank didn’t get full on the last stop. Facing elimination, running out of fuel and a poor finish were the last things Harvick needed last weekend.
Chase contenders Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kurt Busch also lost their fuel gamble last weekend and lost several spots.
Brad Keselowski did not lose a fuel gamble, but he was the first driver to be black flagged by NASCAR for jumping a restart. After reviewing footage, NASCAR stated that Keselowski had restarted too soon, so he fell to the 25th position late in the race. By the checkered flag, he had rebounded to a twelfth place finish.
It was once again, Joe Gibbs Racing, who came out on top at Loudon on Sunday. Matt Kenseth passed Kevin Harvick as he ran out of fuel and went on to capture the checkered flag. Sunday was Kenseth’s fifth win this season, and second overall at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Greg Biffle, and Carl Edwards rounded out the top five. Leaving New Hampshire, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Paul Menard, and Clint Bowyer are the four drivers currently facing elimination from the Chase.
Last weekend in New Hampshire, Denver based Furniture Row Racing announced a new alignment for the 2016 season. Currently partnered with Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing will be running Toyota cars beginning in 2016.
Rumors sailed around for days, but the official announcement of Tony Stewart’s retirement brought widespread headlines this week. On Wednesday, Stewart held a press conference to formally announce that 2016 would be his final season behind the wheel of a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car. Although he’s going to hang up the wheel of the No. 14 car, Stewart made it clear that he will not be retiring completely. Following the 2016 season, Stewart plans to remain busy with his Co-Owner duties of Stewart-Haas Racing, owner duties of Eldora Speedway and the All Star Sprint Car Series, and he eluded that he would still like to race in various series. Clint Bowyer will be the successor in the No. 14 car beginning in 2017.
This week, NASCAR runs the third and final race of the first elimination round of the Chase. After this week, four drivers will be eliminated from the Chase. This is the final chance for those drivers to improve their position and advance to the next round. A win would change it all. The weather poses quite an uncertainty this weekend with the threat of rain from Hurricane Joaquin. All track activities were cancelled on Friday.
Dover International Speedway, also known as the “Monster Mile,” is a one mile, oval shaped track with twenty-four degree banking in the turns. This track can be challenging for many drivers due to the high speed involved in getting around the track. Drivers will maneuver 400 laps to complete 400 miles in the AAA 400.
The Fast Five for Dover is based on drivers’ past performances at Dover. The Fast Five for Dover includes: Jimmie Johnson, who is undeniably the best driver at Dover, holding the most wins among active drivers and the best average finishing position; Martin Truex Jr., who had a strong run at Dover in May, and is a top rated driver there; Matt Kenseth, who is currently the most dominant driver the Series and is a previous winner at Dover; Kevin Harvick, who has never won at Dover, but is great at clinching when it counts and posted a runner up finish at Dover in May; and Kyle Busch, who is in the same position as Harvick, but is a previous winner at Dover and a top rated driver.
Keep an eye on Kyle Larson as the dark horse.
Tune into the race Sunday at 2:30 p.m. on NBCSN.