PHOENIX – The field for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup has been finalized after tonight’s Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway. The 16 championship contenders will begin NASCAR’s playoffs on Sunday, September 14 at Chicagoland Speedway.
The Quicken Loans Race For Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, set for Sunday, Nov. 9, will be the final Eliminator race in the Chase, after which the four remaining title hopefuls will compete for the Sprint Cup Series championship in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The Chase for the Sprint Cup field is as follows:
CHASE FOR THE SPRINT CUP CONTENDERS
Pos. No., Driver Wins Points
1 No. 2, Brad Keselowski 4 2012
2 No. 24, Jeff Gordon 3 2009
2 No. 88, D.Earnhardt Jr. 3 2009
2 No. 48, Jimmie Johnson 3 2009
2 No. 22, Joey Logano 3 2009
6 No. 4, Kevin Harvick 2 2006
6 No. 99, Carl Edwards 2 2006
8 No. 18, Kyle Busch 1 2003
8 No. 11, Denny Hamlin 1 2003
8 No. 41, Kurt Busch 1 2003
8 No. 5, Kasey Kahne 1 2003
8 No. 43, Aric Almirola 1 2003
8 No. 47, A. Allmendinger 1 2003
14 No. 20, Matt Kenseth 0 2000
14 No. 16, Greg Biffle 0 2000
14 No. 31, Ryan Newman 0 2000
Under NASCAR’s new points system this year which emphasizes victories, a race win effectively guaranteed a driver a spot in the 16-person Chase for the Sprint Cup. Heading into the Chase, the points for all 16 eligible drivers will be reset to 2,000, with three bonus points awarded for each race win. Prior to tonight’s race, 13 drivers had booked their spot in the Chase by visiting Gatorade Victory Lane at least once; and Matt Kenseth, though winless on the year, had clinched a spot based on his point total.
That left 19 drivers vying for the two remaining places in the Chase field when the green flag fell tonight. Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Chevrolet, started the race in pole position and dominated throughout, leading 383 of the 400 laps to claim his series-leading fourth victory and put himself in first place heading into the Chase. Greg Biffle and Ryan Newman claimed the final two wild-card spots in the Chase field after finishing 19th and ninth, respectively.
The Chase for the Sprint Cup is a 10-race dash for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, and the field of championship contenders will be cut after every three races. After the first three races in the Chase, known as the “Challenger” round, the field will be reduced from 16 drivers to 12 for the “Contender” round. After the sixth race in the Chase, the field will be reduced again to eight for the “Eliminator” round in races 7-9. The Championship round will feature the final four drivers racing for the title at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday, Nov. 16, with the highest finisher that day capturing the Sprint Cup trophy.