While Jimmie Johnson will be going for his eighth NASCAR Cup Series championship, Martin Truex Jr.is actually the odds-on favorite to win it all. Then, Clint Bowyer had what was described as an "incident" with two laps to go, and Kyle Larson's crew executed the pit stop of the night, vaulting Lawson back on the track just ahead of Truex.
Denny Hamlin (12-1): The No. 11 vehicle has been getting better each week, and it's been there before. "We're bringing back the truck we had at Pocono and MI that was really fast, so I have all the confidence in the world we can have a good night on Friday". "And what better market to do that than one like Chicago, and we were thrilled to have that position for the past seven years", Chicagoland Speedway president Scott Paddock said. Last race: Kyle Larson picked up his second victory in four races in Richmond.
Stenhouse has won two races this season (GEICO 500 and Coke Zero 400). He led the most laps with 198, setting the pace most of the evening.
"With the eliminations, with one race for the championship at the end especially, you're not out there one on one".
"Cars have been just lightning fast and teams have been doing a great job". There's 39 other cars, and you're racing against three of them. There's every chance that that could start this weekend at Chicagoland. You win a race and you're guaranteed to make the playoffs.
That's because there was a stretch from 2007 to 2013 where Truex failed to win an event, going 218 consecutive races between taking a checkered flag, one of the longest winless streaks in the history of the series. "We weren't going to pass the top three guys. I mean, he had a serious injury", Hamlin said. "I have the utmost faith in myself and those around me and feel confident about my future".
For Logano, it was a very bitter pill to swallow, but he placed proper perspective on the disappointment, and on the season.
"With the way the system is set up, I don't know that you can have a favorite, honestly", Truex said on Wednesday during playoff media day interviews at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. One of those victories belongs to Matt Kenseth. In the hunt through Stages 1 and 2, finishing second in the second stage, he became a victim of a weird incident.
Austin Dillon (200-1): Slim.
Had Jones or Earnhardt or Daniel Suarez had been victorious, Kenseth would see his playoff spot slip away.
NASCAR has admitted it had a rough night at Richmond in the scoring tower. Currently, it sits in the middle of the infield, obscured by pit road, unless you are in the higher stands. Kenseth has yet to bag a race win so far this year, but his consistent run of strong finishes in the last few months helped earn him a spot in the playoffs based on points. His vehicle seems much more dominant than it did previous year, so Truex may not have to rely on a late caution to get the win this time around. The second of ten playoff races, Richmond Raceway will be alive for NASCAR action next September 22. Now as drivers and teams head into the actual championship fans will have an opportunity to really see what the top drivers have to offer. "This has got to be the toughest championship in sports to win, without question". Larson, Truex and Logano hope to be riding that wave for years to come.