Team Interstate: Bring On The Chase
Team Interstate didn’t have the results it had hoped for in Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway, but all three drivers are in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship. And that’s what really matters.
Kyle Busch struggled with a loose-handling racecar for much of the night. Crew Chief Dave Rogers and the No. 18 M&M’s/Interstate Batteries team tried a series of adjustments throughout the course of the race, but nothing seemed to fix the handling issues, resulting in a 14th-place finish.
“We struggled a bit tonight, but we struggled as a company as well,” Kyle said. “Richmond is normally a place that we like coming to that we run well at, and tonight it just wasn’t it.”
Teammate Denny Hamlin started strong, running seventh at the 100-lap mark. But his No. 11 Camry’s handling got away from him, and he ultimately fell a lap down to the leader and finished 21st.
Matt Kenseth was fast early as well, but made contact with the wall on lap 122. He brought his No. 20 Camry into the garage for repairs to the suspension and returned to the track 67 laps down. He finished 41st.
Brad Keselowski won the race.
“Tonight’s over, and now we move on to the Chase, and we look forward to that,” Kyle said. “I felt like we had a good test at Chicago a few weeks ago, (and) we ran well earlier this year at Loudon (New Hampshire), so those two first ones coming up in the Chase. The guys are working hard – I can’t say enough about my M&M’s guys , all the 20 team, the 11 team – they’re all putting in the hours and doing everything they can it’s just we’re not reaping the benefits of that yet. There’s still 10 more weeks to go and we hope we can.”
The Chase Begins
Now, it’s on to the Chase, NASCAR’s version of playoffs. NASCAR introduced a new format to the Chase this season, featuring 16 drivers and 10 races. Here’s how it works:
- Positions 1-13 on the Chase field were determined by the drivers with the greatest number of wins after the first 26 races. Positions 14-16 went to the drivers who, while winless during the regular season, were the highest in points. Kyle qualified by virtue of his win in March at Auto Club Speedway. Denny qualified by winning at Talladega in May, and Matt qualified on points.
- NASCAR recalibrated the points for the 16 Chase drivers, with each getting 2,000 points. Drivers also received three bonus points for each of their respective wins.
- The first round is called the “Challenger Round,” and it consists of races at Chicagoland, New Hampshire and Dover. After Dover, four drivers are eliminated from contention. Any Chase driver who wins one of those three races automatically advances to the next round, and points decide the rest of the 12-driver field.
- In the second round, or “Contender Round,” the 12 drivers’ points are reset to 3,000. They race at Kansas, Charlotte and Talladega. After Talladega, four more drivers are eliminated. Like before, if an eligible driver wins one of these three races, he advances to the next round, called the “Eliminator.”
- In the Eliminator Round, the final eight drivers’ points are reset to 4,000, and they compete at Martinsville, Texas and Phoenix. After Phoenix, four more are eliminated. Once again, if you’re eligible and you win, you advance.
- The Championship Round will consist of one race with four drivers having an equal chance at the championship. The first of the four to finish wins the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship.
Better yet, let the drivers explain: