The race to the NASCAR 2018 Championship moves forward minus Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Erik Jones, and Austin Dillon. After a wild finish last week at the Roval Course at Charlotte International Speedway the NASCAR Chase resumes on the high banked concrete surface at the Dover International Speedway.
NASCAR Round of 12 – Who moves on
The next round of NASCAR’s playoffs sees twelve drivers advance with four to be eliminated by races at Dover, Talladega, and Kansas. Here’s my take on who advances and who gets eliminated as the Chase for the 2018 Championship continues.
Kyle Busch – Two words. Playoff points. The reward for having a great season is the insurance policy it creates in the playoff rounds. Kyle’s pretty good at these three tracks as well, winning last seasons October race at Dover.
Kevin Harvick – Man this is easy, eh? A ton of playoff points and a 1.5-mile track (Kansas) where Harvick has dominated this season makes Harvick a safe bet to advance. Harvick is also pretty good at Dover and he’ll be near the front of the field barring getting caught up in the “Big One” at Talladega.
Martin Truex Jr. – After being taken out by Jimmie Johnson leading last weeks race at Charlotte, Truex visits his home track at Dover to open this round. He’s pretty good here and could very well take the checkered flag and remove any doubt about his advancing this week. He’s got money in the bank in the form of playoff points as well.
Brad Keselowski – His late-season performance reminds me of what we often saw from Tony Stewart when he was running in NASCAR. It seemed when the race season wound down and wins and good finishes were at a premium, Stewart would somehow turn it on. The last few weeks this is exactly when we’ve seen from Keselowski. Look for that to continue.
Shocking if they fail to advance
Kyle Larson – This might be more wishful thinking but how can you not root for a guy who banged his car off the wall on the final lap to get it to turn to earn his spot in the round of 12. Larson has fast become the “wheel man” in NASCAR and certainly one of the more entertaining drivers in the series.
Joey Logano – Feeding off the tremendous late-season performance of his Penske Racing Team teammate, Brad Keselowski, Logano seems poised to catch fire. Dover, although not his favorite track is still pretty dang good and if he avoids trouble at Talladega he will move on.
Chase Elliott – We have to have at least one Hendrick Motorsports car advance, don’t we? For most of the season, the #9 Chevy of Elliott’s has been the best running car in the Hendrick camp. I think he’ll do enough to move on to the round of eight.
Kurt Busch – This was a toss-up between Clint Bowyer and him. Busch, driving for the strong Stewart-Haas Racing team for his final season in that seat will find a way to move on. He is one of the best restrictor plate racers in the series so a win at Talladega might not be out of the question.
These drivers will be eliminated
Clint Bowyer – Man, this one was tough. It came down to Kurt Busch and the likable Bowyer and it really is a toss-up. If Bowyer proves me wrong and advances, it wouldn’t break my heart. It won’t surprise me either.
Aric Almirola – An amazing improvement from the #10 team at Stewart Haas racing team in 2018. His on-track finishes have slacked off a bit lately and I don’t think that will change much in this round. Talladega could create his best opportunity to capture a win and advance but I don’t see that happening.
Alex Bowman – After replacing the popular Dale Earnhardt Jr. full time in 2018, Bowman has more than shown his own this season for Hendrick Motorsports. The Chevy has been off most of this season and has struggled to equal the speed of the Fords and Toyota’s. That spells the end of the road for Bowman in this season’s Chase.
Ryan Blaney – Last weeks winner at Charlotte might not be a popular choice here. Blaney is fully capable of sneaking a win at either of these three tracks. He may have to win one in order to advance. With Harvick, Kyle Busch and Truex Jr being stingy with sharing wins, that will be a tall order.
There you have it. From 12 to 8 after this round in the Chase. Those valuable playoff points are great insurance for many.
Thanks for reading. Listen to WTBQ radio on Monday and Friday mornings at 8:45 am as I join Frank, Taylor and the Morning Show gang to discuss all the current happenings in NASCAR. 1110AM, 93.5FM, or online at WTBQ.COM. You can follow me on twitter @JimLaplante.
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