Willwerth: NASCAR Notebook

Get ready because the Chase is right around the corner!

By Brian Willwerth 

The Chase is on. And here comes Smoke.

Tony Stewart, who didn’t secure his place in the Chase for the Sprint Cup until the last moment, won the first race of NASCAR’s playoffs Monday afternoon at Chicagoland Speedway. The #14 team played the fuel mileage game to perfection, as tons of cars ran out of gas on the final lap. It was Stewart’s first win of the season, and first overall since October of 2010.

Stewart moved all the way up to 2nd in the standings. Kevin Harvick has taken over first place in the Chase. He finished 2nd while fellow contenders Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Carl Edwards finished 3rd and 4th.

Among those running out of fuel at the end were Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon.  Both drivers took serious hits in the standings, falling all the way to 10th and 11th respectively. Here are the updated standings:

DRIVER                                       POINTS BACK

  1.  Kevin Harvick                                 —
  2.  Tony Stewart                                  -7
  3. Matt Kenseth                                  -8
  4. Jimmie Johnson                              -9
  5. Ryan Newman                               -10
  6.  Carl Edwards                                – 14
  7. Kurt Busch                                      -15
  8.  Dale Earnhardt Jr.                        -16
  9.  Brad Keselowski                           -18
  10. Kyle Busch                                    -19
  11. Jeff Gordon                                  -24
  12. Denny Hamlin                               -41

It was a relatively clean race. So the Wreck Wrap is taking the week off.

NEXT WEEK: it’s the second race of the Chase, and the second of the year at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Ryan Newman won there back in July.  It should be a fun time, as always. I’ll be in Loudon to take it all in.

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