Nascar Chase Standings
September 11, 2011 by staff
Nascar Chase Standings, Tension was high even before the final race to create the Chase for the Sprint Cup field. That has not changed, even after the champagne celebration of fuel for the 12 drivers in the fight for the title this year.
Kevin Harvick was all smiles after his victory Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway was moved into a tie with rival Kyle Busch atop the Chase classification. And Dale Earnhardt Jr. was happy to be back in the Chase for the first time since 2008.
It was helpful for Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin, who entered the “regular season” end at the edge of being expelled from the field.
But a protracted dispute between the five-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson and former champion Kurt Busch broke out again – on the track with an intentional touching and off the track with angry words – and then taken to a surreal post-race scene . Busch angrily in front of a reporter in the newsroom as soon as he entered the press conference, and when he went to take his place on the podium, the brother of Kyle, Ryan Newman and Stewart had already filled three seats.
While waiting for a chair that is added, Johnson entered the room and stood awkwardly aside. He was full at the opposite end of the stands of Busch, and the mood soon turned sour.
Almost ruined a night that should have been a celebration of what NASCAR believes it is likely a championship perfect.
However, they now go to Chicago, where the 10-race Chase begins Sunday. The field consists of Johnson, both Busch brothers, Stewart, Hamlin, Newman, Earnhardt, Harvick, Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski and Jeff Gordon, and is open for the first time in many years.
“It’s really going to come to less mistakes,” said Harvick. “There are lots of cars that can win. A lot of cars can be competitive.’ll Be making the fewest errors and maximizes the days when you’re out.”
Harvick stormed into the Chase with his victory at Richmond, the fourth of the season, he moved into a tie with Kyle Busch for most of the Cup Series came after a long depression and a terrible race three weeks ago in Bristol that was a long meeting with the team at Richard Childress Racing on a rare day off.
“The meeting Sunday morning was not enough, most of the meetings have not been pretty the last month or so, but came back and found a lot of things that we felt like we had done a little differently,” said Harvick. “It was stressful last month, but I think as you see the last two weeks paid off.”
These past weeks have made a difference for many of the contenders.
A wrinkle added to the Chase format this year awarded two wild card positions, and those that were claimed by Keselowski and Hamlin. Keselowski made the field with a spectacular summer, winning two races to get in the fight, and Hamlin won his place by turning around his season, when everything was on the line.
It will be Keselowski’s first appearance in the Chase.
“I’m seeing a 1-year-old who got his first box of colored pencils – keep them happy and surprised,” said Keselowski. “This is very good. Everything is fresh, new, and a lot of positive momentum.”
Hamlin, Johnson almost toppled last year, has now made the Chase every year he has been eligible and earned a spot on Saturday night with a spectacular comeback from an accident on the eighth lap of the race.
“That was not what I planned going on,” he said of the initial accident. However, a frenetic series of repairs Hamlin got back on track. He seemed surprised by the ninth.
“My car is a disaster. It is in poor condition, wrong,” said Hamlin.
Stewart also won his place with back to back is strong that they have shown some new life in his racing team.
Earnhardt, meanwhile, won almost despite themselves. He has been falling for nearly three months, putting once saw it as insurance for Chase-contending season in serious jeopardy.
“I’m proud to be in the Chase,” Earnhardt said. “I feel like I’m a good enough driver to be in the Chase, my team is good enough to be there.”
Earnhardt was involved in the accident itself Hamlin, but his recovery was not as Hamlin did. He left the most popular NASCAR driver was frustrated for long stretches of the race. With so much pressure on the Chase Earnhardt, who had to run with an eye on Keselowski, who had beaten Earnhardt had gone off the field in the top 10 in qualifying.
As Earnhardt was stuck back in the field and made a furious charge Keselowski to the front, the tension was tremendous on the radio Earnhardt. Crew chief Steve Letarte called the driver to maintain concentration, but Earnhardt seemed doubtful.
“I can not think of the big picture, because you can not really see,” he sighed.
However, Keselowski faded with a 12th place finish, and Earnhardt, who got the free pass back to lead lap three times in the race, finished 16th. He later said he never said not to make the Chase.
“I’m not worried at all,” Earnhardt said. “I realized I had all night to fix it. I felt like we were a team good enough, we would do the job.”
Harvick, meanwhile, emerged from his slump summer to get in strong position to win the Cup championship in the first place. Which was approved by Gordon with 22 laps to go, but a warning for Harvick teammate Paul Menard with 16 laps to go sent everyone to pit road.
Harvick beat Gordon back onto the track and restarted in the lead with 12 laps to go. He then had to hold off a strong charge Edwards in the closing laps for the victory. Although Harvick had a career-high 202 laps, both Edwards and Gordon thought he had a shot at victory.
“It was a tough race, not to win,” said Edwards. “I felt like the car to beat, and if we had another lap or two around -. Harvick would have been all there”
Gordon, who won Tuesday in Atlanta and have moved to the top of the standings with Busch also won Richmond, still believes it has its best chance in years to win his fifth title.
“I feel like we have more momentum into the Chase. I feel like our team is very, very strong,” said Gordon. “We have an awesome race team right now. I’m very excited.”
Then there’s Kurt Busch and Johnson have not been able to avoid each other in recent times on the track.
Busch said after the event “I know we’re in the head,” and the five-time champion has “learn to race. Has been able to beat the boys in the last five years, just by driving them out of with what he has for the team. If you want to switch teams, let’s see what you can do. ”
Johnson scoffed at the comments Busch.
“I’m sure I’m going to look and talk to him and he will run out of his mouth and we go there,” Johnson said. “If he can stop running in my Chevrolet Lowe, everything would be fine.”
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