Fire up the scanner, it is time for Crew Chatter with Speedway Digest writers. This week we tackle Chicagoland with the question, “The Chase for the Sprint Cup has had its defining moments over the past two years, what are your expectations for the 2016 chase?”
My expectations going into the 2016 Chase for the Sprint Cup is that it will be one of the best we have ever seen. With the exception of the Joe Gibbs Racing stable, there isn't really one particular driver that stands out, which will make this Chase very exciting to follow all throughout these last 10 races. I expect it to be a very tight battle to the end.
One of the things I've learned following this sport for the past five years is that you can't really expect anything to happen because anything can and will happen. There are some drivers in the lineup that won at the tracks with more than one race on the schedule, like Dover, Charlotte and Kansas, just to name a few. That doesn't mean they will repeat but they sure could. Sometimes, things are a little different in the fall than they are in the spring so I think you really can't bank on repeat winners in the same year.
I'm really not expecting anyone to dominate. I think we'll know after Chicago where these drivers stand for the remaining nine weeks, which will just fly by.
Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Larson are waking up after winning the last few races of the season. I think they'll continue to run well but I'm not expecting them to dominate.
Joey Logano swept the Round of 12 (Charlotte, Kansas, Talladega) a year ago. He's been a little quiet this season with only one win in June at Michigan, but he could possibly show up and do it again.
Chris Buescher made it in with a little luck on his side at the August Pocono race. I don't think he'll make it to the championship four, but I sure think he'll make it past the round of 16.
Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon and Jamie McMurray have not yet won this season but they are in on points. I really don't know what will happen with them. I think they can pull off top fives and top 10's but I just don't see them going far. Of course, they could be the ones to shake things up.
One other thing to remember is that there are 24 other drivers looking to crash the Chase party. Just because they are not in championship contention doesn't mean they can't pull off a win or a top finish.
This Chase is so unpredictable and it'll be interesting to see where things stand after round one. Right now, I really have no idea what's going to happen.
My expectations for the 2016 Chase are to see more of what we already have this season, as well as the past couple seasons. Toyota dominance and the championship coming down to the final lap. Just like always, right?
As the Chase kicks off in Chicago this weekend, the Joe Gibbs Racing drivers of Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards are the odds on favorites. Add Furniture Row Racing's Martin Truex Jr., who is basically a JGR teammate, and you have five of the 16 drivers that make up the Chase field.
Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Larson will also be tough to beat. Harvick and Keselowski have showed dominance throughout the season, whereas Larson has come on as of late after his win at Michigan.
In 2014, Harvick won the Ford EcoBoost 400 and his first championship by one point and one position over Ryan Newman. In 2015, Kyle Busch won the Ford EcoBoost 400 and his first championship by one point and one position over Ryan Newman. Sense a theme?
So that means that *insert first time champion here* will win the race and the championship by one point and one position over Kyle Busch, right?
I'm not sure, and I don't think anyone is. But one thing is for certain: The Chase is on.
The Chase is on! I have learned one thing participating in this sport since birth is that you have to expect the unexpected. This sport is probably one of the most unpredictable sports to predict because it is a sport of man and machine.
The past two years of this current format have produced defining “quintessential” moments for the sport. In 2014, you had Keselowski against Kenseth and Gordon at Charlotte and Texas. In 2015, you had Logano dominating the Round of Eight, but getting punted at Martinsville by Kenseth, who ended up with a two race suspension from NASCAR.
This year I expect it to be one of the best Chase for the Sprint Cup we have seen. Why? You have so many storylines from Chris Buescher to Tony Stewart to the dominance from Toyota. We will see someone move on into the Championship Four based on consistency. These last ten races will have a defining moment, but I will expect the unexpected for the 2016 Chase for the Sprint Cup