The Kansas Speedway was where many drivers in the Chase knew they needed to have a strong run. Who could have ever predicted that many of them would have a great run at race's end?
At the end of 400 miles, the top seven drivers all are battling for a championship. That means every team in the Chase was getting set to go all-out in a Chase where the field is wide open.
Although, it wasn't a good day for everyone battling for a championship. Points leader coming in, Denny Hamlin, had a rather uneventful day, but didn't have a good one.
Heading into Kansas, he predicted he would need a finish around fifth to maintain his lead.
Unfortunately, that didn't happen. Handling issues in his car all afternoon landed him a 12th-place finish, and thus caused him to lose the points lead to Jimmie Johnson.
Although that lead is not much. Johnson's runner-up finish only gives him an eight-point cushion. Just goes to show this Chase is far from over.
The talk of Kansas was Kyle Busch and his run-in with David Reutimann. The first incident, he took responsibility for as he ran into the No. 00 on accident. The second incident, not so much.
Reutimann slid right into the No. 18 Toyota, and the ensuing damage really hampered the handling. A bent track bar, and tweaked axle housing relegated the younger Busch to a 21st-place finish.
Meanwhile, many of the Chase contenders that our writers picked had very strong runs.
The most popular pick, Jeff Gordon, had some struggles in the middle of the race. A loose car had Gordon fall outside the top 10, but as the laps wound down, he recovered.
A strong ending to the race gave Gordon a fifth-place finish, keeping his title hopes alive.
The next popular pick, Tony Stewart, ran up front for a majority of the afternoon, leading the most laps. But, he fell back as the laps clicked off, his car went away and wound up finishing fourth. He is still 11th in the standings, but doesn't feel he's out of the running just yet.
However, one writer got the pick right, as it was Greg Biffle running away at the end of the race to take the checkered flag. His margin of victory was over seven seconds, as he drove away from his contenders.
A great day indeed for the Roush-Fenway group, and for all of our creatures. All of them picked a driver who ended up finishing in the top 10.
The standings did not change much, but there is a new points leader, much like in the Chase.
Here's how the points shape up after the action Sunday:
Christopher Leone (5,565) Greg Biffle WON (5)
Dustin Parks (5,560) Tony Stewart finished fourth (5)
Rob Tiongson (5,535) Tony Stewart finished fourth (2)
Alan Wade (5,520) Jeff Gordon finished fifth (2)
James Broomhead (5,486) Tony Stewart finished fourth (4)
Misan Ayuka (5,410) A.J. Allmendinger finished 10th (2)
Kara Martin (5,384) Jeff Gordon finished fifth (3)
Kyle Brandt (5,382) Jeff Gordon finished fifth (2)
Billy Fellin (5,296) Jeff Gordon finished fifth (3)
NEXT RACE: For the final time in the Chase, NASCAR is heading out west to the Auto Club Speedway in Southern California. Next year, this track will only host one event during the season, and that will be during the month of May.
It is the home track of many Chase drivers, including Harvick, Johnson and Gordon. It is the second-longest track in the Chase, and will be extremely fast for everyone.
More than anything, fuel mileage could play a biggest factor in deciding a winner.
There will be no red carpet, but the stars will be out.
Creatures, I ask you to have picks for the Pepsi Max 400 sent by 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 7.
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