Tracking the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase: Three Chasers Left with Three Races to Go
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Throughout the first seven races of the Chase, drama has played out as some Chasers have found trouble, while others have risen to the top. Now with three races left in the Chase, it looks like three drivers have a chance at the championship.
Jimmie Johnson leads the pack, following a seventh place finish at Talladega. Johnson rode in the back all the day and then avoided trouble at the end as he came to the front of the field, even leading a lap.
Johnson looks to be the title favourite as he’s going for his fifth championship in a row.
Denny Hamlin sits second, 14 points back, following a ninth-place finish at Talladega. Hamlin had the most dramatic day of the Chasers at Talladega as at one point he was a lap down, due to losing the draft while trying to hang out back.
Although, a break with getting the caution and lucky dog allowed Hamlin to gain his lap back and drive to the front.
Hamlin looks to be Johnson’s biggest threat, as he is the only one who has put it out there that he is gunning for Johnson. He also backed that up with his success before the Chase began with multiple wins.
Lastly, Kevin Harvick sits third, 38 points back after finishing second at Talladega. Harvick ran up front most of the day, though his day looked to be done following being involved a wreck with teammate Jeff Burton and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
However, the team put the nose back together and Harvick drove through the field. He led the white flag lap, though when the wreck happened on the final lap, it was deemed that teammate Clint Bowyer was the leader at the moment of caution.
Harvick looks to be a threat for the championship after leading the season point standings for the majority of the season leading up to the Chase.
If the Chase format was not in place, Harvick would be the points leader by over 300 points.
This week the Sprint Cup Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway, a 1.5 mile oval in Fort Worth, Texas, known for fast speeds.
Last year, Texas played a big role in the championship as it was where Johnson wrecked at the beginning of the race with Sam Hornish Jr.
Johnson, though, fought back from the wreck and took the championship over teammates Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon at the final race.
In 14 starts at Texas, Johnson has one win, seven top-fives, 10 top-10s and an average finish of 10.1. In his previous three Texas Chase starts, Johnson has finishes of first, 15th and 38th.
In the spring, Johnson finished second, though with the last two Chase races not being the best at Texas for Johnson, could this be the race where he falters?
For Hamlin in his 10 starts at Texas, he has one win, four top-fives, seven top-10s and an average finish of 9.6. In his three previous Texas Chase starts, Hamlin has finishes of 29th, 17th and second.
Hamlin won in the spring at Texas so this could be where he takes advantage over Johnson, however with his so-so results, he could also fall into the falter trap.
Lastly, Harvick has no wins, three top-fives, seven top-10s and an average finish of 12.9 in 15 starts at Texas. In his previous three Chase races there, he has finishes of 10th, seventh and fifth.
Harvick looks to have the upper hand on his counter parts in looking at the past three overall despite having the lowest average finish. Harvick looks to be the outcast of the three according to most, so with these stats, could he sneak in there?
Based upon average finish, it looks like the points spread will stay the same, except with Harvick, who may lose some ground.
However, anything can happen in these races with misfortunes and strategy, so therefore, anything is possible.
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