... And then there were eight; eight drivers with a clean slate, gunning for a championship.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. struggled through all three Contender Round races.  He's been eliminated.

Jimmie Johnson did his best to bounce back from two poor showings with his best race in several months, but got shuffled back on the final two restarts at Talladega.  There will be no seventh championship this year.  He's been eliminated.

Kyle Busch was in prime position to make the Eliminator Eight entering Talladega, but was hit from behind while checking up for a wreck and suffered severe damage, after which he finished 40th.  He's been eliminated.

Kasey Kahne plodded along with finishes of 22nd, 10th and 12th in the Contender Round, which left him four points short of qualifying for the next round when Brad Keselowski stole the final spot with a win.  He's been eliminated.

Then, of course, there was Keselowski.  Like Johnson and Earnhardt Jr., he knew he needed nothing short of a win at Talladega to move on to the next round.  That proved to be true.  He finished five points behind Kahne for the eighth position in the points, but his win ensured he automatically moved on and Kahne got knocked out.

The driver of the No. 2 might not come anywhere near winning "Most Popular Driver" this season, but his performance at Talladega could set him on the way to winning his second championship in three seasons.  He's joined in the Eliminator Round by Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenneth, Carl Edwards and Jeff Gordon.

With the field narrowed to eight, here's a look at some of the remaining Chase drivers and their fantasy NASCAR values at Martinsville Speedway:

Green Flag: Jeff Gordon

Gordon edged Kahne by just three points to advance into the Eliminator Round.  It was a surprising struggle for a driver that has looked more poised for a fifth championship than he has in the better part of a decade.  He could clinch a spot in the Championship Round with a win at Martinsville, where he has eight career wins.  Even if he doesn't pull that off, with 27 top-fives in 43 starts at the track, he should be high in the points after this race.

Caution Flag: Denny Hamlin

Hamlin hasn't been on the top of anyone's championship list this season, but he's been consistent enough to make it through to the Eliminator Round with room to spare.  He has just one top-five in the last 12 races this season, but has won four times at Martinsville.  If the native Virginian can benefit from some home cooking, he could be a surprise finalist at Homestead.

Red Flag: Carl Edwards

Edwards struggles here at the Magic Mile of New Hampshire Motor Speedway, so it's not a surprise that he hasn't figured out a mini version of the track at Martinsville.  He has just one top-five in 20 starts at Martinsville and will need to leverage Texas and Phoenix, both tracks where he has multiple wins, to qualify for the Championship Round.