Before the Chase took on the ruthless Kansas Speedway, many experts and fans were saying it was a three-man chase for the Championship. Well, they were wrong.
Going in to the race weekend, there was a clear separation between the top three drivers, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, and Kyle Busch, and the rest of the field. All three drivers were running consistently strong races and looked to be pulling away in points. After Kansas, that isn’t the case anymore.
All three of the top Chase contenders ran into problems during the race, some more than others. Busch and Kansas collided once again with Busch wrecking his primary early on Friday in practice. During the race, things went down hill quickly as he spun through the grass trying to avoid a wrecking Danica Patrick. There was little damage to his car and he rallied back to the front of the field. It didn’t last long. With just 68 laps to go, Busch slammed hard into Turn 1. He would go on to finish 34th.
Kenseth had his own issues throughout the race making several extra trips down pit road. He said it was a “struggle all day” and that he hadn’t had to race in a car that bad in a long time. Giving props to his team, he came across the start/finish line 11th. Johnson had one of the strongest cars all day. Passing cars left and right, Johnson seemed to struggle on restarts. With two to go, his car gave out and he limped around to finish 6th.
When the checkered flag flew, Kyle Busch and Ryan Newman, who was collected early in a wreck, lost the most in the Championship standings. Busch dropped two to fifth, and Newman dropped five to 12th.
At the end of the day, the top seven drivers in the standings are separated by one race worth of points. It is still anybody’s game, but Johnson and Kenseth will be the ones they will have to beat.
-3 Jimmie Johnson
-25 Kevin Harvick
-32 Jeff Gordon
-35 Kyle Busch
-44 Greg Biffle
-47 Kurt Busch
-54 Dale Earnhardt Jr
-55 Clint Bowyer
-59 Joey Logano
-60 Carl Edwards
-73 Ryan Newman
-83 Kasey Kahne