Joey Logano dominated the second round of the Chase last year, winning all three races and leading most of Talladega en route to the win. Logano won this year’s Talladega race but it was only his first win so far in the Chase.
Two of the favorites had engine problems and were eliminated from Chase contention. Only 42 laps into the race, Martin Truex Jr. had his engine blow up and his title hopes went up in smoke. About 100 laps later, the same fate fell on Brad Keselowski. He led most of the laps up to that engine failure, seeming like a shoo-in for advancement to the round of 8.
Heading into Talladega, the bottom four drivers consisted of Austin Dillon, Denny Hamlin, Keselowski and Chase Elliott. Elliott was in a must-win situation and he gave it his all as he ran in the top 5 most of the race. His 12th-place finish ended his championship dream.
Dillon and Hamlin traded the cut-off line most of the race and ended up in a tie for the eighth and final position. Hamlin won out because of his 3rd-place finish and the tiebreaker rule. You can bet the remaining eight drivers are breathing a sigh of relief with Truex and Keselowski failing to advance to the round of 8.
The “Big One” did not happen this year. Lap 113 saw Greg Biffle, Jeffrey Earnhardt and Casey Mears creating the only multi-car accident of the race.
It took six races into the Chase before we had our first spat between drivers.
Following the finish of Sunday’s race, Kurt Busch rubbed the side of Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick’s Chevrolet. After parking on pit road, Harvick took a swing at Busch, who was still strapped into his car. Busch, who joins Harvick in the Round of 8, believes it was a case of misunderstanding and denies any bad blood with the 2014 champion.
Half the field for the round of 8 are Joe Gibbs teammates, Edwards, Kyle Busch, Kenseth and Hamlin. Two Stewart-Haas drivers made the field, Kurt Busch and Harvick. The final two drivers are Johnson and Logano. All eight drivers had their points adjusted to 4,000 entering Martinsville. The other two races in the segment are in Texas and Phoenix.