Nascar Sprint Cup Series and the “Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship” returned to Texas Motor Speedway over the weekend. Tensions were high on the track as the field continued to narrow quickly. If you’re unfamiliar with the Chase system in Nascar, it’s basically like Elimination. They start with 16 drivers in the essential “playoffs.” By Texas it’s down to 8 and those 8 drivers are battling to be one of the 4 who are eligible in the final race to win it all. A guarantee ticket punch to the final round is a win. If you don’t win, you need to have enough points to put you in the top 4.
Qualifying on Friday let to surprising results, with many of the top Chase contenders qualifying less than ideally. Austin Dillon took the pole, his first Texas Sprint Cup Pole. Which meant he got to take home the Rifle that goes with it. To say he was thrilled is an understatement.
Practice at the track started off rocky with Kyle Busch getting into the wall and having to switch to a back up car. This unfortunate incident actually worked in Kyle’s favor, as his back up car had him as one of the fastest cars on the track by the end of Saturday. The 5 drivers overall in practice were Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, and Chase Elliot. Only Busch and Logano were chase eligible though. Though, Carl Edwards and Kurt Busch cracked the top 10 and were definitely worth keeping an eye out for.
Sunday race day started out cloudy with the sun breaking thru just in time for a pre race concert by country star Jake Owen. Which was a fun change of pace from the 80’s hair bands of previous years. The crowd ate up his performance as he tossed endless guitar picks and drum sticks out to the masses. You cant deny that he was dripping in charm, and his joy was rubbing off on all the fans packed up against the stage.
The weather had been holding off and looming just to the west however and as drivers got to their cars for the anthem, that’s when the skies opened up and rained just enough to cause a 6 hour delay and drying of the track. There’s nothing worse than a rain delay. By the time we got racing, it was dark outside, after 7 and the stands had unfortunately cleared out dramatically.
However, those that stayed were treated to an exciting race. Joey Logano, one of the Chase contenders, took over the lead quickly after the green flag dropped, and dominated for 178 laps.
A mostly uneventful race, which was not a bad thing since it started so late in the day. That lasted for most of the race in fact, occasional debris cautions, a blown tire or two. Then Kevin Harvick got into Austin Dillon, and sent him into the wall of turn 4, also taking out Casey Mears and Brian Scott in the incident.
Late in the race Carl Edwards was able to grab the lead after making a lightning fast pit stop. But it was all he needed to snag the win. The skies opened back up and rain started pouring onto the track again around lap 289, well past the halfway mark. Fortunately for Edwards, when the cars were parked on pit road at lap 293, that meant he was the winner.
This win puts Edwards into the final 4 along with Jimmie Johnson who won the previous week, and means he will compete at Homestead for the championship. This weekend marked Edwards 4th win at the Texas track. Joey Logano finished the night in 2nd place, followed by Martin Truex Jr. in 3rd. There are still 2 Chase positions up for grabs. Joey Logano is hungry for his shot at the championship, and is leading in points to a default position. As for the fourth and final spot, it could easily be Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, or Kevin Harvick in that position. The rest of the pack doesn’t have the points to really contend. As always it’s anyone’s game still.. well as long as you are one of the final 4.