Four drivers are set to be eliminated this weekend at one of the wildest and most unpredictable circuits on the NASCAR calendar.
This weekend marks the final race in the second round of NASCAR's new elimination-style Chase. The track is none other than the ominous racing grounds known as Talladega Superspeedway.
A fight for survival
What we're going to witness this weekend is not a battle for advancement, but a fight for survival. When the green flag waves, each driver is at the mercy of fate. Disaster and carnage await around every corner. 43 racers will attempt to run within mere inches of one another for 500 miles at speeds eclipsing 200mph. It's nothing more than a high stakes game of Russian Roulette. Should just one driver make a mistake, they will all pay the price.
Some of NASCAR's best
That is the situation Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, and Matt Kenseth now found themselves in. Between them, they hold eight Sprint Cup titles, six Daytona 500 trophies, and well over 100 race victories. But this weekend, all of them could be denied a chance at NASCAR's crown as they sit inside the drop zone.
Johnson is the defending series champion, Earnhardt is this year's Daytona 500 winner, and Keselowski has won more races than anyone else this season. Well, with the exception of his own teammate Joey Logano, whom he is tied with in that category. These are the cream of the crop and if they are to be eliminated at all, one would never imagine it to happen in this round.
They have two choices
This new format allows no mulligans. One fumble and you're suddenly in a do or die situation. These four have two choices when NASCAR visits the car graveyard known as Talladega this weekend. They can hide and hope that through attrition and luck, they can earn enough points to escape elimination. Or, they can lay it all out on the line and go for the win, which guarantees advancement no matter what the points table says.
Be my wingman
Earnhardt is a master of plate tracks, but in order to finish first, you must first finish. He knows this. Both he and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson sit 26 points behind the cut-off, a hefty margin. You will most likely see this duo team up in an effort to escape the chopping block, each serving as a wingman to the other. It will be a level a teamwork that supersedes anything you'll see in any other race.
As for Kenseth, he may be on his own. His teammates are ahead of him in the standings and by helping him move up the order, they could potentially push themselves out of the elite eight.
Only two are safe
In fact, looking at the standings now, only Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick are safe, and that's just because they've won races in this round. Kyle Busch, who is currently second in the championship, is just 26 points ahead of the drop zone.
What's going to happen at Talladega when you have 43 cars, ten desperate drivers, one massive track, and 33 others who are just in it for the win? It's going to be nothing short of spectacular and if the bedlam in Charlotte is any indication, I think the Chase for the Sprint Cup is about to hit a fever pitch.