With the Hollywood Casino 400 in the books, there are now five more weeks left in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and the ‘Chase’. Four drivers will be eliminated from championship contention this during Sunday’s Hellmann’s 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
It was not a good day in the Sunflower State for Brad Keselowski. The driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford made contact with the No. 11 FedEx Toyota of Denny Hamlin, bringing the caution out on lap 189. Soon after Keselowski’s team got him back out on the race track, he was forced back to the garage for dragging fluid on the track. He would be done for the day.
“My guys busted their butt on this Miller Lite Ford to get it back out,” Keselowski said in a Ford Racing transcript. “They worked their guts out. If my team keeps putting up this kind of effort, I don’t worry about today.”
Keselowski is still feeling optimistic despite his early exit from the 267-lap race. “With this format I had a big points gap coming in,” he explained. “With this format it is probably the smart thing to do but I don’t want to race like that. I want to race my guts out and go for wins. I don’t want to points race. I don’t think it is a must-win situation. I am not worried about it. I am going to go there and bust my butt to try to win but I don’t think it is a must win yet.”
Keselowski is ranked 11th in the Chase standings with 3038 points.
Although he finished sixth at Kansas, Austin Dillon still finds himself in the bottom four of the standings at ninth with 3045 points. “We wanted a top five, we missed it by one position,” the driver of the No. 3 Dow Coating Materials Chevrolet said in a Team Chevy transcript. “One spot short, but we were really close to it. I’m just proud of these guys, proud of the hard work and effort they put into it each and every week.”
Hamlin finished 15th and sits 10th in the playoff standings with 3039 points. “Terrible,” Hamlin said of his day in the Heartland in a Toyota Racing advance. “I mean just everything went wrong. Just stupid stuff and then penalties when we shouldn’t have them and just another year of the same stuff.”
The Daytona 500 champion is confident he can turn things around in Talladega. “I’ve got confidence I can win every single week on the race track,” Hamlin said. “It’s just – this is a team sport and you’ve got to have every facet of the car and the team all put together and we’ve just got to execute. I’ve got full confidence we can go to Talladega and win next week and we’ll show that when we get there.”
Chase Elliott had a strong run going but trouble came when a left-rear tire began to go down. “I don't know if we got the left rear getting up on the race track, or something and it got into the fender and cut it down," he said, also in the Team Chevy transcript.
Elliott led four laps during last Sunday’s race. He currently sits 12th in the standings with 3020 points.
By day’s end this Sunday, we will know who survived to the ‘Round of Eight’ and stays in contention for a Sprint Cup Championship.