Chase Tracker: Top 16 drivers remain same but Jeff Gordon drops a spot

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Twenty-three races have been run and three NASCAR Sprint Cup events remain until the Chase for the Sprint Cup field is set.

Sixteen drivers will advance to the Chase. Any driver with a victory, ranking in the top 30 in points and having started every race (unless granted a NASCAR waiver) will make the Chase.

Matt Kenseth‘s win Sunday at Michigan International Speedway means there remain 11 different winners this season. Ten winners already have clinched a Chase spot. Kyle Busch, who has four wins, is not guaranteed a Chase spot because he has not clinched a place in the top 30 in points.

While the top 16 drivers in the Chase grid remain the same from last week, Jeff Gordon fell from 14th to 15th after Michigan. Ryan Newman passed him after finishing eighth. Gordon placed 17th.

 

Here’s who is Chase eligible at this point in the season (*clinched Chase spot):

1 – Jimmie Johnson (4 wins) … 752 points*

2 – Kyle Busch (4 wins) … 395 points

3 – Matt Kenseth (3 wins) … 751 points*

4 – Kevin Harvick (2 wins) … 866 points*

5 – Joey Logano (2 wins) … 818 points*

6 – Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2 wins) … 784 points*

7 – Kurt Busch (2 wins) … 683 points*

8 – Martin Truex Jr. (1 win) … 755 points*

9 – Brad Keselowski (1 win) … 754 points*

10 – Denny Hamlin (1 win) … 670 points*

11 – Carl Edwards (1 win) … 628 points*

12 – Jamie McMurray (0 wins) .. 663 points

13 – Paul Menard (0 wins) … 654 points

14 – Ryan Newman (0 wins) … 649 points

15 – Jeff Gordon (0 wins) … 648 points

16 – Clint Bowyer (0 wins) … 616 points

DRIVERS OUTSIDE A CHASE SPOT

17 – Aric Almirola (0 wins) … 23 points behind 16th

18 – Kasey Kahne (0 wins) … 26 points behind 16th

19 – Greg Biffle (0 wins) … 63 points behind 16th

20 – Kyle Larson (0 wins) … 68 points behind 16th

21 – Austin Dillon (0 wins) … 83 points behind 16th

22 – Danica Patrick (0 wins) … 108 points behind 16th

23 – AJ Allmendinger (0 wins) … 119 points behind 16th

24 – Casey Mears (0 wins) … 121 points behind 16th

25 – David Ragan (0 wins) … 129 points behind 16th

26 – Sam Hornish Jr. (0 wins) … 166 points behind 16th

27 – Tony Stewart (0 wins) … 175 points behind 16th

28 – Trevor Bayne (0 wins) … 202 points behind 16th

29 – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (0 wins) … 205 points behind 16th

30 – Justin Allgaier (0 wins) … 239 points behind 16th

 

 

Sign up at nbcsports.com/gridchallenge for your chance to win $16 million by selecting a perfect Chase bracket, but if you miss out on the grand prize, you’ll still have a chance to win the weekly playoff grid challenge.

 

 

 

Ryan Blaney thankful for support after Daytona 500 incident

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Ryan Blaney said he didn’t want to talk to many people the night of the Daytona 500 after contact with Ryan Newman triggered Newman’s horrific last-lap crash.

But when Blaney got home, his parents were there.

“That was nice of them to be there,” Blaney said Friday at Auto Club Speedway, the first time he’s talked to the media about the Daytona 500 since that night.  

Blaney was ashen when he spoke briefly to the media after the season-opening Daytona 500. As he spoke, an ambulance drove by on the frontstretch, taking Newman to the hospital.

Blaney was intent on pushing Newman, a fellow Ford driver, to the victory when it became clear to Blaney he could not win the race. But as he pushed Newman coming to the finish, the contact unsettled Newman’s car and it turned right into the outside wall. Newman’s car went airborne and was slammed in the driver side area while upside down by Corey LaJoie.

Newman walked out of a Daytona Beach hospital two days later. Newman said last weekend in a statement that he suffered a head injury but did not disclose any details. He has since been to Roush Fenway Racing to see team members and also did a video for one of the team’s sponsors that day. Newman will not race this weekend, missing his second consecutive race but said in his statement he looks forward to racing again.

MORE: Ryan Blaney talks to Ryan Newman, looks forward to seeing him at track

Blaney said several people helped him in the aftermath of Newman’s accident. All that was known the night of the race was that Newman was in serious condition with a non-life-threatening injury.

Blaney said close friend Bubba Wallace spent time with him the day after the Daytona 500.

“We talked about some stuff,” Blaney said Friday of what he and Wallace did. “I stayed off social media and all that stuff. You have people that aren’t even involved and have never even watched the sport that have their own opinion on bad things.

“The outreach I got from the calls from former drivers and current drivers that week was pretty remarkable. Their support was good. Even though it is unintentional and it is racing, it still takes a toll on you when it is off of your nose. You never want to see anyone get hurt in this sport. We are all competitors, but we are also a big family.

“Ryan and I have gotten along really well and that was just a bad circumstance and it is great that it worked out for the best. It was nice to have the friends and family and drivers and teams (offer their) support. That really helped me out.”

Blaney cited a couple of former drivers whose calls were impactful.

Jeff Burton and Bobby Labonte called me, people that I looked up to a lot as a kid,” Blaney said. “It was neat that they called me and gave me their peace of mind. That was good.”

Friday also marked the first time for Blaney to speak publicly since last weekend’s race at Las Vegas. Blaney led but a late caution changed the race. He and Alex Bowman, running second, were among drivers who pitted. Joey Logano, running third, did not pit, inherited the lead and went on to win. Blaney finished 11th.

Blaney said Friday it took him 10 minutes to get over how that race ended.

“Yeah, it was over,” Blaney said. “Moving on. I went and stayed in a teepee and forgot about it.”

About his experience staying in a teepee, Blaney said:

“I already had that planned no matter what happened. I like camping. I was out on a ranch in the middle of the desert for a couple days and just hanging out and all that stuff. It was fun.”

As for what he did, Blaney said: “Go hiking a little bit. Cook by the fire. Clear your head. It is just relaxing. I have always kind of been that way. It was nice to get out there. I was out there. I had to be out there for Tuesday night anyway and figured I would stay somewhere other than the (Las Vegas) Strip. I can’t do the strip for very long. I wanted to stay somewhere opposite to the Strip.”

Alex Bowman fastest in final Cup practice at Auto Club Speedway

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Alex Bowman completed a sweep of Friday’s Cup Series practice sessions at Auto Club Speedway by posting the top speed in final practice. He was also fastest in first practice.

Bowman’s top speed was 176.626 mph. He recorded 32 laps in the session.

The top five was completed by Ryan Blaney (176.186 mph), Bubba Wallace (176.177), Kurt Busch (175.816) and Christopher Bell (175.695).

Bowman also had the best 10-lap average at 175.317 mph.

Kurt Busch recorded the most laps with 47.

The only incident in the session was defending race winner Kyle Busch brushing the wall in Turn 3 after his car got away from him on the bumps in the corner. Repairs were made to the car and Busch returned to the track with 17 minutes left in the session.

Click here for the speed chart.

 

Alex Bowman tops field in opening Cup practice at Auto Club

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Alex Bowman posted the fastest lap in opening Cup practice Friday at Auto Club Speedway. Bowman ran a top lap of 179.439 mph.

Bowman was followed by Kyle Larson (177.703 mph), Tyler Reddick (177.607), Kurt Busch (177.375) and Matt DiBenedetto (176.609).

Click here for full practice report

There were no incidents in the session.

Final Cup practice is scheduled from 5:35-6:25 p.m. ET today. Qualifying will be Saturday.

Xfinity practice report at Auto Club Speedway

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Harrison Burton was fastest in the final Xfinity Series practice session Friday at Auto Club Speedway.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver recorded 22 laps and posted a top speed of 174.474 mph in the 25-minute session.

The top five was completed by Noah Gragson (173.779 mph), Austin Cindric (173.775), Chase Briscoe (173.578) and Brandon Jones (173.578).

Burton also had the best 10-lap average at 170.422 mph.

Gragson recorded the most laps in the session with 25.

There were no incidents in the session.

Click here for the practice report.

First practice

Noah Gragson led the way for the Xfinity Series in the opening practice session that saw more than half the 50-minute period under caution at Auto Club Speedway

Gragson ran a top lap of 177.139 mph. He was followed by Austin Cindric (176.022), Daniel Hemric (175.400), Brandon Jones (175.366) and Harrison Burton (175.187).

Click here for full practice report

Alex Labbe brought out the caution when an oil line came loose and he put oil down on the track. The cleanup took about 20 minutes.

Tommy Joe Martins brought out the caution late in the session with smoke coming from the car and then a small fire in the right front of the car.