CNBC study: Bowyer, Almirola, Kahne in battle for last Chase spot


With three races remaining to qualify for the Chase for the Sprint Cup, much of the 16-driver field is already locked in.

But there’s still one significant battle that resembles a game of musical chairs: three drivers duking it out for the 16th and final Chase spot.

Right now, Clint Bowyer has the edge, holding down the final spot on the Chase grid, according to a CNBC study after this past Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Michigan.

But Aric Almirola (23 points behind) and Kasey Kahne (26 points back) haven’t given up hope that they can overtake Bowyer for the final spot.

According to CNBC’s Eric Chemi, winless drivers Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard, Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon are all likely to make the Chase despite not having visited Victory Lane thus far in 2015.

But also winless are Bowyer, Almirola and Kahne.

“Right now Bowyer is still hanging on to his spot, with a sizable cushion,” Chemi writes. “Our model still has him as the favorite to get the sixteenth Chase spot – 71 percent chance.

“Kahne has a 15 percent chance to make it back in. He’ll basically need to do it with a win, because he’s too far back on points to expect that to be a real strategy. Among the next three tracks, Kahne has won at two of them: Bristol and Richmond. Last year he got a late regular season win, at Atlanta – the second-to-last race before the Chase started.”

Both Kahne and Almirola won races last season. Bowyer, on the other hand, has not visited a Sprint Cup Victory Lane since 2012.

And because of that, Chemi adds, “(Bowyer) might be better focused on accumulating points and hoping nobody else new wins a race.”

But don’t forget Bowyer appeared to be fairly comfortable into the Chase last year, only to be eliminated in the final Chase qualifying race at Richmond.

Check out the chart compiled by Chemi and Andrew Maness of PitRho, a racing data and analytics firm, which have created a computer model that simulates the season 100,000 times based on each driver’s performance in 2015 and the previous two seasons:







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Starting lineup for Texas Cup race: Brad Keselowski wins pole


Brad Keselowski will be at the front of the field to start Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway (3:30 pm ET, USA Network).

Keselowski, who is not a part of the 12-driver playoff group, won the pole Saturday afternoon with a speed of 188.990, edging Joey Logano‘s 188.805.

MORE: Texas Cup starting lineup

The race is the first of three in the second round of the Cup playoffs. Round of 12 races will follow at Talladega Superspeedway Oct. 2 and the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval Oct. 9.

MORE: Waffle House a headquarters for race winners

Also starting in the top five Sunday will be William Byron, Tyler Reddick and Michael McDowell.

Brad Keselowski wins Cup pole at Texas Motor Speedway


Brad Keselowski, hoping to extend Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing’s turnaround, won the pole Saturday for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway.

It was the second piece of good news for RFK Racing in two weeks. Chris Buescher,  Keselowski’s teammate, won last week’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway, the first victory for the team under the RFK banner.

Keselowski, who ran 188.990 mph, is not a part of the 12-driver playoff group. Nine of the first 14 starting positions were filled by playoff drivers.

MORE: Texas Cup qualifying results

Following in the top five Saturday were Joey Logano, William Byron, Tyler Reddick and Michael McDowell. Playoff point leader Chase Elliott will start sixth.

“Texas is a really tough track,” Keselowski told NBC Sports. “As hot as it’s going to be, that will be even tougher.”

Race-time temperatures are expected to be in the mid-90s Sunday.

The race (3:30 p.m. ET), the first event in the second round of the playoffs, will be televised by the USA Network.

Sunday Texas Cup race: Start time, TV info, weather


The first race in the second round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs is scheduled Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.

Twelve drivers are racing for eight spots in the next round. Chase Elliott leads the standings by 15 over Joey Logano entering Sunday’s 500-mile event, the only Cup points race at TMS this year. Ryan Blaney, who is in the playoff group, won the All-Star Race at the track in May.

Chase Briscoe, Alex Bowman, Daniel Suarez and Austin Cindric are below the cutline entering the 3:30 p.m. ET (USA Network) race.

MORE: Big race celebration? Try Waffle House

The playoffs will continue at Talladega Superspeedway (Oct. 2) and the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (Oct. 9).

Details for Sunday’s Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway:

START: The command to start engines will be given by “Top Gun: Maverick” actors Jay Ellis and Lewis Pullman at 3:38 p.m. (ET) … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:49 p.m.

PRERACE: Cup garage opens at 12:30 p.m. … Driver introductions are at 3 p.m. … The invocation will be given by Bret Shisler of Texas Alliance Raceway Ministries at 3:30 p.m. … The 1st Cavalry Division Band will perform the anthem at 3:31 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 334 laps (501 miles) on the 1.5-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 105. Stage 2 ends at Lap 210.

MORE: Ryan Blaney’s team to appeal penalty

TV/RADIO: USA Network will broadcast the race at 3:30 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 2:30 p.m. on USA Network. The post-race show will air on USA Network. … Performance Racing Network coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. and also will stream at SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.


FORECAST: Weather Underground — Partly cloudy skies. High of 96 with a 5% chance of rain.

LAST TIME: Kyle Larson won by .459 of a second over William Byron last October. Larson led 256 of the race’s 334 laps.


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Brandon Jones wins Texas Xfinity pole

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NBC Sports Power Rankings entering Texas race

Brandon Jones wins Xfinity pole at Texas Motor Speedway


Playoff driver Brandon Jones won the pole position Saturday morning for Saturday afternoon’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Jones was clocked at 185.637 miles per hour. He has won three of the past four Xfinity poles.

MORE: Texas Xfinity qualifying results

MORE: Texas Xfinity starting lineup

Scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday on the USA Network, the race is the opening event of the Xfinity playoffs.

Following Jones in the top five were Noah Gragson (winner of three consecutive Xfinity races), Daniel Hemric, John Hunter Nemechek and Sam Mayer.

MORE: Post-race celebration? Try the Waffle House

The race is 200 laps (300 miles) on the 1.5-mile track. Drivers will be battling heat in the mid-to-high 90s.