|12/03/15||The Champion By NHMS Numbers|
|11/20/15||The Championship Four Preview|
|11/13/15||Phoenix: Three To Watch|
|10/30/15||Martinsville: Three To Watch|
|10/18/15||Kansas: Three To Watch|
|10/05/15||Charlotte: Three To Watch|
CHASE FANTASY: Texas
It looks like someone was a little bitter to have not received his invitation to the Eliminator Round of the NASCAR Chase. After struggling in the Contender Round, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was eliminated from championship contention, but that didn't stop him from crashing the party with a win at Martinsville Speedway this past Sunday.
His win opens the door for at least two drivers to qualify for the Championship Round on points alone. That's a pretty risky proposition, however. Those still in the Chase have been among the most consistent drivers this season, so one slip could easily knock a driver out of the points race.
Wins are still key.
Jeff Gordon just missed out on a clinching win with his second-place finish at Martinsville; that could come back to haunt him if something goes wrong in the next two races. Meanwhile, Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick suffered damage and finished 31st and 33rd, respectively, at Martinsville. Both of them won in the last round and might need to do the same to advance.
Here's a fantasy NASCAR perspective on how some of the Chase contenders are expected to finish this week:
Green Flag - Matt Kenseth
Kenseth has struggled to lead a lot of laps in the Chase, but Texas is one of his best tracks. He has an 8.2 average finish at the track with 13 top-fives in 24 starts. He has yet to win this season, but that hasn't stopped him from advancing in the Chase, and this track plays right into his consistent level of performance.
Caution Flag - Brad Keselowski
With just one top-five in 12 starts at Texas, Brad Keselowski doesn't jump off the page with his numbers. That said, he proved at Talladega that he has the ability to bounce back from adversity and pick up the win he needs to move on to the next round. He's led at least 30 laps in three of the last four Texas races, so it's not hard to see him stepping up to snag the win.
Red Flag - Carl Edwards
Edwards is tied with Jimmie Johnson with three wins at Texas Motor Speedway, the most all-time at the track. However, he only has eight top-10s in 19 starts and hasn't been consistently fast this season. There's a possibility that Edwards puts together a strong run, but his recent performance doesn't suggest it's likely.