Posted: Friday, August 29th 2014 at 8:00am
NASCAR Preview: Bowyer, Biffle, Larson on Chase hot seats
By NASCAR Media
Kyle Larson is hoping to move into one of the final two seats in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. / Photo: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
ATLANTA, GA - Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle and Kyle Larson are playing a high stakes musical chairs game of sorts. At the moment, Bowyer and Biffle sit in the final two seats to qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with Larson standing on the outside looking in at 17th on the current Chase Grid.
All three drivers need a victory to assure themselves spots in the Chase – and avoid being bumped down from their respective perches with a win by a competitor currently ranked lower.
With the music still playing a mere two races left before NASCAR’s postseason, it’s not necessarily a win or go home situation, but it’s close to it.
Entering this Sunday’s Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta, Larson trails Biffle by a hefty 26 points for the final seed on the grid, while Biffle looms only five points behind Bowyer for the minimal breathing room afforded by the 15th spot.
“I hope we can go there and get a win and stop worrying about points,” Larson said. “I think 26 behind Biffle is a long way to go for two races. Hope for some bad luck for him, but we will see.”
The last two races, Larson has been plagued by some of the bad luck he wished on Biffle. The 22-year-old – attempting to become the second rookie to ever qualify for the Chase – finished 43rd at Michigan after a wreck and managed an impressive 12th-place finish at Bristol after starting the field from the rear after crashing his primary car in qualifying.
Potential good news for Biffle and Bowyer? Many of the recent winners at Atlanta have already locked up a Chase spot – and are favorites heading into the weekend. A repeat winner this weekend would guarantee that at least three winless drivers earn a spot on the Chase Grid.
Although they’re in comfortable, yet not reassuring situations, Biffle and Bowyer still both feel they need wins.
“You take chances, make passes, do all the things you can do,” said Biffle prior to Bristol. “But at the same time, we know we’re on the bubble in points. I feel it’s going to take a win still to get in this thing, and that’s what we’re going for.”
Bowyer’s crew chief, Brian Pattie, spoke about the team in advance of Bristol, emphasizing racing to win, but also mentioning not taking reckless chances.
“We go to the track every weekend looking to win,” he said. “That doesn’t change. But we’re not going to be stupid. If we have a chance to win we will go for it, of course, but we aren’t going to do something to jeopardize a good finish. We just need to stay focused on what we need to do to get a finish and if a win is in reach we will go for it.”
For the winless drivers, here are the clinch scenarios for Atlanta:
If there is a repeat winner, the top-three winless drivers would clinch if they are at least 45 points ahead of the fourth highest winless driver.
If there is a new winner at Atlanta, two winless drivers remain guaranteed to make the Chase. In this scenario, the new winner would clinch, if he/she finishes the race at least 49 points ahead of 31st. The top-two winless drivers would clinch if they are at least 45 points ahead of the third-highest winless driver.
Matt Kenseth controls his own destiny. A seventh-place finish locks him in no matter who wins at Atlanta.
WDUN will have live PRN Radio coverage of Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B 500 from Atlanta Motor Speedway beginning at 6:30 pm on 102.9 FM and 550 AM.
Fifty-eight miles north of the city of Atlanta sits Dawsonville, Georgia the hometown of the current NASCAR Nationwide Series standings leader Chase Elliott. A lot has happened to Elliott since he left Dawsonville, but this weekend he returns home with winning experience and the series championship lead.
Elliott’s father, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott put Dawsonville on the map. So much so media famously nicknamed Elliott, ‘Awesome Bill from Dawsonville.’ With all of Elliott’s success in NASCAR the name stuck and the legend grew. Elliott gave Georgia fans something to cheer for almost every weekend during his career and even more so when he came to Atlanta having posted five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins at the track.
This weekend, Chase Elliott will be making his series debut at AMS and in doing so is looking to add to the Elliott family winning ways. In Elliott’s five starts on 1.5-mile speedways this season he has won twice (Texas and Chicago) and finished in the top-five three times.
Just 10 races remain in the season and with the cushion of points Chase Elliott has accumulated, it is his championship to lose. If Elliott can close the season out holding on to the standings lead he will become the first Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate in series history to win the title. In 23 starts this season he has three wins (tied for series-most), 10 top fives and 17 top 10s.
WDUN will have live PRN Radio coverage of Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series Great Clips 300 from Atlanta Motor Speedway beginning at 7 pm on 102.9 FM and 550 AM.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series: Canadian Contenders
Canada will be well represented in the Chevrolet Silverado 250, as native drivers Alex Tagliani, Ray Courtemanche, Jr., Cameron Hayley and Andrew Ranger make their NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debuts on their home soil.
The four will attempt to become the first Canadian driver to win a NASCAR national series event since Ron Fellows came up victorious in the 2008 NAPA Auto Parts 200 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. Fellows, who also happens to co-own CTMP, boasts the only two victories from a Canadian driver in NCWTS action – his last coming in 1999 in the Bully Hill Vineyards 150 at Watkins Glen. With a checkered flag, one of the Canadians can join Fellows (six wins) and one-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race-winner Earl Ross as the third native driver to place first in a NASCAR national series event.
Each competitor brings plenty of NASCAR experience to his first race. Calgary native and former NASCAR Next member Hayley ranks second in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East driver standings, while Montreal resident Tagliani has two NASCAR Nationwide Series starts this season. Courtemanche, also from Montreal, is a familiar name in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series with five starts on the circuit this year, including the season-opener in Bowmanville. The 27-year-old Ranger, who calls Quebec home, has the most NASCAR national series experience among the four with 17 Nationwide appearances and one Sprint Cup start. In 2014, he’s been racing a full NASCAR Canadian Tire Series schedule, sitting third in the points standings.
Last season marked the NCWTS’ inaugural visit to Canada – its first road course event since 2000.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to run in one of NASCAR’s top-three series, and I can’t believe I’m finally getting the chance to live that dream,” Hayley said. “Having my first truck series start in a place I consider ‘home’ is everything I could’ve ever hoped for.”
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