There is no Martinsville in the Xfinity Chase or Talladega, so as the series prepares for its playoff opener this weekend at Kentucky Speedway, what are the wildcard tracks in the seven-race, three-round extravaganza?
“I think Dover is,’’ said Elliott Sadler, the No. 2 seed in the 12-driver Chase field. “So many things can happen quickly at Dover. Very narrow race track, very self-cleaning race track, very hard to get on pit road. Smallest pit road we race at. Small pit boxes. A lot of little bitty things can happen at Dover.
“No, we don’t have Martinsville. No we don’t have Talladega. Dover is to me is going to be a wildcard in the first round.’’
Dover, which will be held Oct. 1, is the middle race in the opening round.
Brendan Gaughan, the No. 7 seed, views Phoenix, the last race in the second round, as another wildcard event.
“Strange things have happened,’’ Gaughan said. “That place has had some pretty kooky circumstances.’’
Gaughan says that he thinks back to Ryan Newman’s desperate bid to make the championship round in the inaugural elimination format Sprint Cup Chase in 2014 and how he banged off Kyle Larson in the last corner of the last lap to gain the position Newman needed to advance.
Phoenix is the final race before the championship round in Cup, Xfinity and the Camping World Truck Series and Gaughan wouldn’t be surprised to see something similar happen there.
“That’s the type of track that that can happen at,’’ he said. “You have that flat corner that you can do so many things and take chances.’’
Erik Jones, though, views it differently. The No. 1 seed sees the wildcard race being one of the five 1.5-mile tracks in the Chase.
“Kentucky, you never know with the repave,’’ he said of where the series races Saturday night on NBCSN. “If anything, I think Kentucky will be.’’