Heading into New Hampshire this weekend, the previous No. 1 seed was Denny Hamlin until he dropped to fourth, 15 points behind Brad Keselowski, when his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota ran short of fuel on the final lap of last weekend’s GEICO 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. Second-place finisher Jimmie Johnson retained the No. 2 spot three points behind the lead while the No. 3 seed, Tony Stewart, is third, eight points back.
- SPEED’s NASCAR Raceday Pre-Race Show: 11:00 am/et with John Roberts, Kyle Petty, Kenny Wallace
- NASCAR Countdown Pre-race: ESPN – 1:00pm/et
- TV Race Coverage: ESPN, 2:00pm/et
Wild Card qualifier Kasey Kahne made the biggest gain – six positions from 11th to fifth, tied with Hamlin and Clint Bowyer 15 points behind Keselowski. Greg Biffle dropped three spots to eighth; Matt Kenseth three positions to 11th and Kevin Harvick a single position to 10th. Wild Card qualifier Jeff Gordon lost the most in terms of points after his No. 24 Chevy hit the wall hard due to a stuck throttle, dropping the four-time champion 47 points out of the lead to 12th.
Considering Dale Earnhardt, Jr. started in the back of the field last weekend due to an engine change, Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with an eighth-place finish in the Chase opener. However, wins were big in the regular season and will be the main ingredient to what it takes to contend for the championship.
July’s top five was Kahne, Hamlin, Bowyer, Earnhardt Jr. and Keselowski. Eight Chase drivers have New Hampshire victories led by Gordon, Johnson and Stewart with three wins apiece. The other winners are Bowyer (two), Kahne, Biffle, Hamlin and Harvick.
SHR’s Ryan Newman could be this week’s non-Chase “spoiler.” He swept last year’s Coors Light Poles at the 1.058-mile track and continues to seek his 50th NASCAR Sprint Cup pole.
Source: NASCAR Media