Chase for the Sprint Cup

Earnhardt Jr. Looks to Pick Up Chase Performance

Communication key to turnaround at Dover
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<p> Dale Earnhardt Jr. tells Athlon Sports contributor Dustin Long that improved communication within his Hendrick Motorsports team is important if he is to battle for NASCAR's Sprint Cup championship.</p>
2012

Dale Earnhardt Jr. wants to be more forceful with his Hendrick Motorsports team at times but he worries about upsetting his crew.

Earnhardt knows he must do something after two pedestrian finishes in NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup have him seventh in the standings, 26 points behind series leader Jimmie Johnson heading into this weekend’s race at Dover.

The time is now for Earnhardt to exert his leadership.

Backseat Drivers Fan Council

Handicapping the Chase and the year's biggest surprises
<p> Dustin Long's Backseat Drivers Fan Council talks about Chase favorites, the racing at Richmond, the season's biggest surprises and discuss whether NASCAR drivers "give it their all" each and every race.</p>
2012

NASCAR’s Chase for the Championship is here and with it comes the question of who will win it. Members of the Backseat Drivers Fan Council tackle that question and more, including what is the biggest surprise this year and if they think drivers give their best effort every race. Here’s what the Backseat Drivers Fan Council had to say about those issues and more.


Who will win the Chase?

NASCAR News: 12 Drivers That Made the 2012 Chase for the Sprint Cup

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The NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup field—12 drivers in all—is finally set.
 
The final wild-card spot was earned in dramatic fashion last night at Richmond International Raceway, when Jeff Gordon squeaked into the 12th slot.
 

Backseat Drivers Fan Council

Fan reaction from a wild weekend in Bristol
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<p> Dustin Long's Backseat Drivers Fan Council talks all-things Bristol and weighs in on which wild card drives will make the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase for the Championship.</p>
2012

The changes to Bristol may not have worked quite how track officials imagined, but most members of the Backseat Drivers Fan Council liked what they saw there last weekend. Is it enough to get them back to the track? You might find those responses interesting. Also, Fan Council members updated their selection on who they think will get the wild card spots in the final two races before the Chase.


Grade Saturday’s Cup race at Bristol

A Draw in the Desert

Kahne wins Phoenix; Edwards, Stewart remain separated by three points

by Matt Taliaferro

Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart entered Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 500 at Phoenix International Raceway separated by three points at the top of NASCAR’s championship standings. And after finishing second (Edwards) and third (Stewart), they’ll go to the season finale in Homestead, Fla., still three points apart.

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<p> Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart will settle NASCAR's 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup in Homestead, Fla. on Sunday.</p>

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NASCAR Horsepower Rankings

And then there were two

by Matt Taliaferro

1. Tony Stewart  Momentum has clearly swung in Smoke’s favor. He’s always been a streaky driver, and now that he’s “on” it may be hard for Carl Edwards to hold him off.

2. Carl Edwards  Averaging a 5.6-place finish in the Chase, but Stewart is blowing Cousin Carl’s doors off in the wins department. Still, NASCAR’s points format rewards consistency over winning, so is it advantage: Carl?

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<p> Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart have separated themselves from the field in NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup. But who's the real man to beat?</p>

11. Greg Biffle  Five straight top-15 showings for Biffle and the boys. Finishing strong matters.

12. Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Consecutive seventh-place finishes, the best we’ve seen in a few months out of this bunch.

13. Kurt Busch  Parked brother Kyle got more camera time than 30th-place Kurt at Texas.

14. Martin Truex Jr.  Bowyer’s teammate-to-be has three stright top 10s. Again, finishing strong matters.

15. Kyle Busch  There comes a turning point in every driver’s career. Maybe this was Kyle’s.

Just off the lead pack: AJ Allmendinger, Marcos Ambrose, Jeff Burton, Mark Martin, Ryan Newman
 

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Tony Stewart Wins in Texas

Stewart wins fourth Chase race; Carl Edwards second

by Matt Taliaferro

Tony Stewart is putting together a run in NASCAR’s Chase for the Championship as impressive as any seen in its seven-year history. Stewart’s win in the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway was his fourth in eight Chase races, and finds him just three points shy of Carl Edwards as the Sprint Cup Series heads to the penultimate race of the season in Phoenix.

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<p> Tony Stewart held off Carl Edwards to win his second straight race in the AAA Texas 500.</p>

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Tackling Talladega

Despite controversies, Talladega "just works"

by Vito Pugliese

There’s a reason why Talladega continues to endure and endear itself to NASCAR Nation. Vito Pugliese provides a first-hand account of this past weekend’s racing from the 2.66-mile behemoth.

While some experiments and initiatives in NASCAR have not performed as expected, there are some constants that continue to produce. One of them has been producing for over 40 years: Talladega.

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<p> Athlon Sports contributor Vito Pugliese admits that there are issues with plate racing, circa 2011, but states that regardless of the circumstances, Talladega just works.</p>

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Jimmie Johnson Wins in Kansas

Johnson Narrows Chase Gap

by Matt Taliaferro

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<p> Jimmie Johnson won in dominating fashion in the Hollywood Casino 400 from Kansas Speedway and closed in on the lead in NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup.</p>

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Smokin' Start to the Chase

Tony Stewart wins first Chase race at Chicagoland Speedway

by Matt Taliaferro

Just days ago, Tony Stewart called himself an underdog in the Chase for the Championship. Two weeks prior, he wondered aloud whether his No. 14 team even deserved a spot in NASCAR’s playoffs. On Monday, Stewart proved he’s no underdog — and he surely belongs in the company of title contenders — as the two-time Cup champion kicked off the Sprint Cup Series’ Chase by saving enough fuel to outlast the field in the GEICO 400 from Chicagoland Speedway.

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<p> Tony Stewart captured his first win of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season in the sport's first Chase race at Chicagoland Speedway.</p>

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