NASCAR's 'new' Chase gets underway this weekend in at Chicagoland Speedway.
The 2014 Chase field has finally been set. 16 drivers will go head-to-head in the opening three-race round of this new elimination style format. Chicagoland, New Hampshire, and Dover are the three races that will serve as the battle grounds.
A win guarantees advancement, the remaining drivers that are allowed to advance is determined by points. The first round will get rid of those who aren't necessarily championship worthy, but were lucky enough to win their way into the Chase.
See ya Cinderella
Sorry Cinderella stories and fans of the underdogs, but Aric Almirola and A.J. Allmendinger won't go any further than this round. Both are good drivers, but both were also marred back outside the top 20 in points before Richmond. Almirola won a plate race while Allmendinger, a road course ace, earned his maiden Sprint Cup win at Watkins Glen.
Who else gets left out?
So which two drivers will join them? This is where it will get interesting. I see it coming down to a scramble between Greg Biffle, Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman, and Kyle Busch.
Biffle and Newman
Biffle and Newman made their way into the Chase on points and although both have been consistent, they haven't been consistent enough for me to believe they will be inside the top twelve by Dover.
Kasey Kahne has one victory this year, coming at Atlanta, salvaging his season in the process. Besides that triumph though, it's been a forgetful 2014 for the driver of the No. 5. He's had flashes of greatness, but Kasey's also failed to be a contender enough for me to think he'll advance into the second round.
Kyle Busch is another driver I feel could face elimination here. He has come undone the last few weeks with multiple outbursts and four finishes outside the top 35 in the last six races. This past weekend was his best showing since July, and even that was a subpar 14th place result.
Making a decision
After contemplating all these factors, I'm going with Greg Biffle and Kyle Busch to join Aric and A.J. in elimination. Kyle is fast enough to advance, but I don't think he will get the job done, which will be just enough to keep Hendrick's Kasey Kahne alive for one more round. Watch out for Hamlin too. He may be right on the edge of being eliminated at Dover as well, but I think he'll survive.
Your turn to vote
So who do you think gets eliminated? Make your pick for which driver has the best chance of being kicked out of the championship race in the first round by clicking one of the 16 options below.