There is a new leader atop the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Brad Keselowski now sits one point ahead of Martin Truex Jr. after Sunday's New England 300, also referred to as the Bad Boy Off Road 300. Keselowski finished in fourth place, with Kevin Harvick taking home the second race of the Chase. The win confirms Harvick will make it to the second round of the NASCAR playoff.
"It’s definitely going to be nice," Harvick said, per Joe Menzer of Fox Sports. "One of our main goals this year was to not stress ourselves out so bad. I feel like the performance of the car and the things that we’re doing are good enough to be competitive, and we just need to not make mistakes and go from there.”
|Sprint Cup Standings|
|1||Martin Truex Jr.||2086||3|
As of right now, it's Kyle Larson hanging on to that 12th and final spot. He sits five points ahead of Jamie McMurray and Austin Dillon after the No. 42 car earned a 10th-place finish Sunday. Tony Stewart, in his final full-time NASCAR season, is 11 points out of reaching the second round after finishing as the first car a lap down in 23rd.
The field heads to Dover next Sunday, another short track that could play to the advantage of the same drivers as this week.
Keselowski won the Chase back in 2012, back before he'd even turned 30. Once seen as a baby-faced star on the rise, the now seasoned vet is putting himself in a good position for a second title.
Of course, this year's Chase could wind up finishing in controversy. NASCAR's decision to not penalize Truex or Jimmie Johnson in the points standings for failing inspection last week in Chicago has polarized some fans. Truex, who won the race, finished seventh this week.
"I haven't really figured exactly how I feel about it yet," Keselowski said, per Bob Pockrass of ESPN.com. "There were parts of me that really liked it, parts of me that really disliked it. I'm trying to take a step back and see the whole picture and maybe not doing the best job at that."
|Round of 16|
|Sunday, Sept. 25||2 p.m.||New England 300||New Hampshire|
|Sunday, Oct. 2||2 p.m.||Citizen Soldier 400||Dover|
|Round of 12|
|Saturday, Oct. 8||7 p.m.||Bank of America 500||Charlotte|
|Sunday, Oct. 16||2:15 p.m.||Hollywood Casino 400||Kansas|
|Sunday, Oct. 23||2 p.m.||Alabama 500||Talladega|
|Round of 8|
|Sunday, Oct. 30||1 p.m.||Goody's Fast Relief 500||Martinsville|
|Sunday, Nov. 6||2 p.m.||AAA Texas 500||Texas|
|Sunday, Nov. 13||2:30 p.m.||Can-Am 500||Phoenix|
|Sunday, Nov. 20||2:30 p.m.||Ford Ecoboost 400||Homestead|
Johnson ran in eighth place Sunday and is also eighth in the standings.
Mostly, Sunday proved to be a holding pattern for Chase drivers. Chris Buescher, the improbable Chase qualifier, was the worst finisher in 30th. His surprising entry should come to an end next week barring another victory; he's 30 points back of 12th place.
No other Chase driver finished worse than Stewart, and 14 of the 16 drivers wound up with a top-20 finish. Truex led the most laps with 141, and second-place finisher Matt Kenseth led 105. Kenseth moved up three spots to fourth place in the standings.
Harvick was the biggest mover and shaker, going up eight spots. Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott and Stewart had the worst days, moving back three spots.