By Jared Turner
Austin Dillon Has To Step It Up To Advance
Of the 12 remaining drivers in contention for the 2016 Sprint Cup Series championship, there’s one clear underdog of the bunch – and, hands-down, it’s Austin Dillon. While each of the other 11 championship hopefuls has recorded no fewer than six top-five finishes this year, Dillon has just four top fives. Even more concerning for the oldest grandson of veteran team owner Richard Childress is that he hasn’t come home with a top-five finish since the August race at Bristol Motor Speedway. In the six races since Bristol, Dillon has just one top-10 finish – an eighth-place showing this past weekend at Dover where he still finished a lap down. If Dillon, who made the Chase for the first time in this his third full Sprint Cup season, wants to be among the drivers who advance from the Round of 12 to the Round of 8, the kind of numbers he posted in the Round of 16 simply aren’t going to cut it.
Chase Elliott Can Make The Championship 4
Despite being shut out of Victory Lane in 29 races as a Sprint Cup Series rookie, Chase Elliott has a legitimate shot at being part of the Championship 4 who fight for the title in the winner-take-all season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Elliott, whose legendary father Bill is the 1988 Sprint Cup champion, has been a paragon of poise and consistency in his first year in NASCAR’s top division. Had it not been for sheer bad luck on two or three occasions, Elliott would already have two or three wins to his credit. There’s no reason whatsoever for anyone to think that, with a little good luck, the second-generation driver can’t qualify for the Championship 4 and even make a serious bid for the title in the season-ending race in South Florida. In many ways, he’s already surpassed expectations in 2016.