The first race of the Chase is over, and even though this is only round one, a small line has been defined on the championship. This line can change, but right now a few drivers have shown they can compete. Here is a look at the strongest championship fighters so far.
1) Jimmie Johnson- If nobody can step it up, Johnson will win his 6th championship this year. However, the team has struggled with mechanic, on-track problems, and pit strategy. They are going to have to limit their mistakes to win this year.
2) Brad Keselowski- One person who has shown they can step up and beat Johnson would be driver of the No.2, Keselowski. They didn’t dominate the first Chase race, but they beat five-time to the finish line and take the points lead. This team has lots of chemistry, but lacks experience which may hurt them when they attempt to win the championship.
3) Greg Biffle- Many may disagree with this, but let me explain. The first Chase race, Biffle had trouble and finished thirteenth. However, he was the best finisher on his team and his team worked together to get up there and get the points. It could have been a lot worse. This kind of team work is what you need to win a championship.
Who has fallen so far in the hunt? These drivers aren’t out yet, but they show they might bottom out during the next few weeks.
1) Denny Hamlin- Going into the Chase, Hamlin looked like he was the guy to beat. This is about where he falls off, so does the whole Gibbs organization. Hamlin has a lot to overcome to get back in it, but if anyone can get back in the run, Hamlin can.
2) Matt Kenseth- Kenseth’s team has not been able to put together races, and it has hurt them. Before they were consistent, but now they just aren’t doing well. They need to step it up and win and keep it in the top-five.
3) Jeff Gordon- The darkest horse in the garage right now. With all the bad luck they have been having, it doesn’t look like this will be Gordon’s year this year unless they can get some really good finishes and a couple of wins. This worked for him to get into the Chase; will it work for the trophy? We’ve have nine weeks to find out.
This is a quick rundown on what you can expect further in the championship, how will they do at New Hampshire? Strong picks would be Johnson, Kahne, Bowyer, Hamlin, and Keselowski. I also expect that Kyle Busch will upset the rest of the drivers in this Chase but that could happen in any of the coming weeks.
By Caleb Slouha