Four Cup drivers eliminated, twelve advance in NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase

The first round of the NASCAR playoffs is history, and four of the 16 original Cup candidates have been eliminated. Jeff Gordon won the AAA 400 at Dover yesterday, and is among twelve drivers who will compete in the next elimination phase of three races. Again, points have been re-set, with all twelve drivers beginning Sunday's race at Kansas Speedway with 3000 points each. No bonus points are awarded, as they were for the first round based on season wins. The four drivers who were eliminated yesterday were AJ Allmendinger, Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle and Aric Almirola. Kasey Kahne, who finished 20th yesterday, barely beat out Allmendinger and Busch for the final spot in the next round.

Grand jury says no charges against Stewart

Charges will not be filed against NASCAR veteran Tony Stewart after a grand jury listened to testimony that included reconstruction experts and drivers, plus a long look at video from the incident that claimed the life of dirt track driver Kevin Ward, Jr. The 20-year old Ward had left his car after an accident and was struck by Stewart's car as he walked on the tract amid traffic that had slowed for the caution. The Ward family still has the option of seeking civil damages.

Logano wins at New Hampshire, Keselowski holds slim points lead

In a boring, caution-filled afternoon at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Joey Logano held off Kyle Larson and Kevin Harvick to win the Sylvania 300 and close in on points leader Brad Keselowski after two Chase races. Logano's win came after the 15th caution brought about a green-white-checkered finish to the wreck marred race. After next week's race, the field will be cut to the top twelve in points. After two races, the bottom four are Aric Almirola, Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle and Denny Hamlin. Keselowsli, who finished seventh yesterday, leads Logano by just one point. Unadilla's David Ragan, who completed just 177 of the 300 laps, finished 42nd. Danica Patrick was 19th, finishing ahead of five of the Chase drivers.

Keselowski wins at Chicagoland, keeps points lead

Brad Keselowski made a bold move after the final re-start yesterday at Chicagoland Speedway, driving between Kyle Larson and Kevin Harvick to take the lead with 12 laps to go. The driver of the number 2 Ford won the first of the ten Chase races by holding off a charging Jeff Gordon and Larson. It's the fifth win of the season for Keselowski. Joey Logano finished fourth, just ahead of Harvick. Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Jamie McMurray and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top ten. With the win, Keselowski extends his Sprint Cup points lead to seven over Gordon and ten over Joey Logano and twelve over Harvick. Four drivers will be eliminated after race number three. After race one, the bottom four are Aric Almirola, Greg Biffle, AJ Almendinger and Ryan Newman. Race two is Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where Matt Kenseth is defending champion.

Sprint Cup Chase starts Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway

It's now called the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase Grid. It's the latest format change for racing's top series. With the field expanded from 12 to 16 teams, and race winners guaranteed a spot in the chase, NASCAR has also invoked an elimination process. 16 drivers are eligible for the Chase championship, which begins Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway. But after the first three races, the field will be cut to 12, and will be cut by three drives at three race intervals until there are four drivers remaining after Chase race number nine. Those four will battle for the Sprint Cup Championship on November 16th at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Jimmie Johnson is defending champion.

Keselowski wins at Richmond, gets top seed for Chase

Brad Keselowski became the only 4-time winner on the Sprint cup circuit when he won Saturday night in Richmond, the final race before points are re-set for the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship. Each of the 16 drivers who made the Chase field get 2000 points to start the final 10-race chase, plus an additional three points for each win during the first 26 races. Keselowski is the top seed with 12 bonus points, followed by Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Jr, Jimmie Johnson and Joey Logano with three wins (9 points) each. Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards each won twice and start the chase tied for sixth place. One time winners are Kuyle busch, Denny Hamlin, Kiurt Busch, Kasey Kahne,Aric Almirola and AJ Allmendinger, who round out the top 13. Those making the field without a win are Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle and Ryan Newman.

NASCAR down to final race before Chase field is finalized

The NASCAR Sprint Cup season is down to the final race before the field is re-set for the final ten-race chase for the championship. Fourteen drivers have qualified, the 13 who have won at least one race, plus Matt Kenseth, who is quaranteed a spot by virtue of his fourth place standing in points. Ryan Newman and Greg Biffle would get the two remaining spots if the Chase began this week. But with one race remaining, should a driver who is winless so far capture the Federated Auto Parts 400 Saturday night in Richmond, then only one more spot would remain. That, too, would be determined by points. Newman is 19 points ahead of Biffle, who in turn leads Clint Bowyer by 23 and rookie Kyle Larson by 24. Carl Edwards, who has already qualified, is the defending race champion at Richmond.

Comcast to replace Nationwide as sponsor of NASCAR's second-tier series

Comcast and NASCAR have reached agreement on a 10-year contract under which the cable company will become the sponsor of what is now the Nationwide series, NASCAR's second-tier series, now sponsored by Nationwide Insurance. Beginning in 2015, the series will be known as the NASCAR Xfinity Series. The contract runs through 2024. Xfinity is the online video service of Philadelphia-based Comcast.

NASCAR moves Atlanta race to March in 2015

NASCAR has made some schedule changes for the 2015 season, and one of the big moves involves Atlanta Motor Speedway. Darlington Raceway will return to the traditional Labor Day weekend spot on the schedule. In order to get Darlington back to Labor Day weekend, NASCAR moved Atlanta to the second week in March. The Darlington race in 2015 is scheduled for September 6, according to the schedule released yesterday. NASCAR will keep it's traditional opening week in Daytona, then go to Atlanta before a 3-race western swing that includes Phoenix, Las Vegas and Fontana. In a change for the 2015 season only, Daytona's second race of the season, traditionally run on Saturday night of the July 4th holiday weekend, will be run this year on Sunday, returning to Saturday night the following year.

Kahne wins in Atlanta, secures Chase spot

Kasey Kahne needed a win at either Atlanta or Richmond to qualify for the Sprint Cup Chase. He got the win Sunday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway, holding off Matt Kenseth to become the thirteenth Sprint Cup winner this season and automatically qualify for the chase. Although he is winless, Kenseth has also qualified by points. He is currently third in the standings with just one race to go. The winner at Richmond will qualify, if the driver hasn't already won. If it's a repeat winner, then the last two Chase positions will be determined by the most points by a non-winner. Right not, that would be Ryan Newman and Greg Biffle, with Clint Bowyer and rookie Kyle Larson still in contention. Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson each has won three times and would share the top seed. Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick have won twice each.

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