Chase Bubble: Who's In or Out
The final four in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup is set for next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway after four of the eight drivers remaining in contention during Sunday's Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway were eliminated.
Advancing to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship:
Denny Hamlin had to re-pit after he had a flat right-rear tire early in the race and fell back to 36th on the restart, but he rebounded for a fifth-place finish. With eighth-place and 10th-place finishes at Martinsville and Texas, respectively, it was enough for him to advance to the final round.
Joey Logano also experienced trouble on pit road at Phoenix when the gas can lodged in his car and led to a penalty. But Logano eventually got back into a good position and finished sixth. Logano finished fifth at Martinsville and 12th at Texas and his five wins this season are the most among the four championship contenders
Ryan Newman pushed Kyle Larson out of the way on the final lap at Phoenix to qualify for the championship. Newman has yet to win a race this year, but it hasn't mattered. His 11th-place finish at Phoenix follows up runs of third place and 15th place at Martinsville and Texas.
Kevin Harvick did the equivalent of hitting a walk-off home run with his win at Phoenix. He increases his total of most Cup wins among active drivers at Phoenix to six. Harvick managed to rebound from a 33rd-place finish at Martinsville earlier in the Eliminator Round.
Eliminated from contention:
Jeff Gordon finished second at Phoenix and tied with Harvick for fourth place in points, but because of Harvick's win at Phoenix, the No. 4 advanced to the championship round and the No. 24 did not. Gordon finished second at Martinsville and Phoenix, but his 29th-place finish at Texas ultimately did him in from attempting a run at a fifth Sprint Cup Series championship this season.
Matt Kenseth finished third at Phoenix but fell just one point shy of advancing. He finished sixth at Martinsville, but a 25th-place showing at Texas put him just a little too far behind.
Brad Keselowski finished fourth at Phoenix, but ultimately couldn't make up for his 31st-place showing at Martinsville. And that was despite his third-place finish at Texas following the controversial move that cut down Gordon's tire and led to a post-race melee.
Carl Edwards couldn't make it to the championship round in his final run with Roush-Fenway Racing. His 15th-place finish at Phoenix followed a 20th place at Martinsville and a ninth place at Texas.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship:
Of the final four drivers still in contention, the highest finisher in next Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400 (3 p.m. ET, ESPN) will win the championship. There will be no bonus points awarded for laps led or most laps led to the contending drivers in the final race.
* = Advances on tiebreaker because of win at Phoenix