Five things you need to know about Sunday’s Chase elimination race at Phoenix
The end is near: Sunday’s Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 is the final race in the Eliminator Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and the second to last race of the entire season.
Following are five pieces of Chase data you need to know in advance of Sunday’s big race:
Contending drivers with Chase-era championships: 3
Just three of the eight drivers sill in contention to win the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup have previously won titles in the Chase era: Kurt Busch (2004), Brad Keselowski (2012) and Kevin Harvick (2014). Jeff Gordon has four Cup titles, but none since the Chase was adopted in 2004. Contending drivers looking for their first Cup titles are Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Martin Truex Jr. and Joey Logano.
Number of race wins by Eliminator Round drivers: 20
For the most part, the eight drivers left in the Eliminator Round have posted some mighty impressive numbers, winning a total of 20 of 34 points races run so far this year. Tops on the list is six-time winner Joey Logano, who needs to win again this weekend in Phoenix to advance to the Championship Round.
In addition, Kyle Busch has four wins; Kevin Harvick has three; Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards have two each; and Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr. have one apiece. There is no possibility of a winless champion this year.
Most Chase race wins by an Eliminator Round driver: Kevin Harvick, 9
Of the eight drivers still left fighting for a title, defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick is the most prolific winner of Chase races, having scored nine Chase race victories, including wins in three elimination races. Last year, Harvick needed to win at both Phoenix and Homestead to take the championship and he did just that. This year, Harvick had to win Dover to advance, which he again did.
Most Chase wins without a championship: Carl Edwards, 8
Edwards has come literally as close as possible to a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship without winning. The year was 2011, when Edwards tied Tony Stewart for the title, but lost on a tiebreaker: And a powerful tiebreaker it was: Stewart won five Chase races that year, while Edwards didn’t win any. Edwards also finished second in the 2008 Chase.
Fewest Chase wins by an Eliminator Round driver: Martin Truex Jr., 0
One of the most compelling stories of the Chase continues to be Martin Truex Jr. and the Furniture Row Racing team, the only single-car team in the Chase. And the only Denver-based team in the Chase. And the only team about to change manufacturers. The fact that Truex is in a good position to advance to the Championship Round is a tribute to the driver and team, which operate on a fraction of the resources the big teams have.