One race into the 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and already some drivers are in bubble trouble. Let's find out which drivers went into their shells during the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400, and who is sitting back, relaxing and chomping on pizza before New Hampshire.
Who's hot: Martin Truex Jr.: He overcame a lot to win his first Chase race in the opener at Chicago. First, there was a shredded right-front tire that forced him to come to pit road and fall a lap down before the race was 90 laps old. He jumped back on the lead lap after a caution on Lap 119 and overcame Ryan Blaney on a restart in an overtime finish to pull away for the win. It was critical for Truex to do well on the intermediate track since two short tracks (New Hampshire, Dover) are up next in the Round of 16. Truex advances. (Note: The No. 78 failed post-race inspection but not to the level of an encumbered finish. Read more) ...
Chase Elliott: The Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate appeared to have his first Sprint Cup Series race in the bag before a caution on Lap 262 for an accident involving the No. 95 of Michael McDowell. In the ensuing pit stop, Truex beat Elliott off pit road, and after an overtime restart, the No. 24 finished third. Still, it's a great way to start the Chase, and with three top-10 finishes in his past four races, Elliott seems to have turned his season around at the right time.
Who's not: Kevin Harvick: The 2014 champ charged up from the back after starting there for unapproved adjustments and was poised to contend for the victory. But bad luck struck when he pitted under green just before a caution flag came out on Lap 48. Harvick couldn't beat the leader to the start/finish line on pit road and fell a lap down. He had a good car but finished 20th (15th among the 16 Chase drivers). ...
Kyle Larson: The first-time Chase participant got off to a bad start when he had to move to the back because of a transmission change prior to the race. However, Larson fought his way back into the top five late in the race before he reported the right side of the car feeling like it was about to go down. Crew chief Chad Johnston called him to pit road with seven laps to go and Larson finished 18th (14th among Chase drivers) and was 15th in the Chase standings heading to New Hampshire.
Four in, four out: Here's a look at the Chase bubble, with four drivers being eliminated after the third race of this round, at Dover International Speedway.
|Standing||Driver||Point Differential from Cutoff|
Up next: New England 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Who it favors
Most wins: 3 (Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart)
Best driver rating: 103.3 (Denny Hamlin-21 races)
Best average finish: 10.2 (Denny Hamlin)
Who it hurts
Fewest top 10s: 1 (Austin Dillon-5 races), 0 (Chase Elliott, Chris Buescher-1 race)
Worst driver rating: 45.0 (Chris Buescher), 72.2 (Jamie McMurray)
Worst average finish: 34.0 (Chase Elliott-1 race), 29.0 (Chris Buescher-1 race), 19.9 (Jamie McMurray-27 races)