|The Contender 12 carry special stickers. Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images|
Fate and skill will decide who moves forward....
It's time to prepare for glory or defeat - the Contender Round is upon us. (NASCAR promo)
The championship points have been reset and 12 drivers now sit tied at 3000 points. An equal playing field for all.
Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman, Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Kevin Harvick , Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne and Denny Hamlin survived the Challenger Round and advanced to the Contender Round. Will one of these Chase drivers win today and automatically advance to the Eliminator Round?
Kevin Harvick broke his own track record in claiming his eighth pole of the 2014 season (197.773 mph in Round 2 of 3.) If you're keeping score at home, that's his sixth track record this year and the 20th time this season a new track record has been set in qualifying.
|Jeff Gordon's Challenger sticker in Victory Lane at Dover|
credit: Beth Bence Reinke/Skirts and Scuffs
For Jeff Gordon, back-to-back wins used to be commonplace, but he's not managed that feat since 2007. That was also the last season he scored more than three wins. Can he ring the Hendrick victory bell again this week?
Then there's the four drivers who were just eliminated from championship contention. Greg Biffle, Aric Almirola, AJ Allmendinger, and Kurt Busch can still finish as high as fifth in points. Almirola qualified an impressive third, Biffle begins in 11th and both showed speed in the first practice.
The Roush Fenway drivers tested at Texas last week and must have found something on that mile-and-a-half that translates to Kansas because they're looking racier than they have all season.
Dinger starts from 20th, but was fast in the second and the final practices, while Busch starts 24th and seems to be searching for speed.
Perhaps a non-Chase contender will break out a win. Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson have been factors in the last few races and both showed wicked speed in practices. McMurray starts 14th and Larson 18th, but both will probably get to the front quickly. If Larson can keep his No. 42 Chevy off the wall, he might earn his first career Cup win.
The green flag flies in the Hollywood Casino 400 at 2:19 pm ET on ESPN. Tune in to see who draws first blood in the second round of eliminations.
|8||Dale Earnhardt, Jr.||27.593||195.702|
|15||Martin Truex, Jr.||27.681||195.080|
|23||Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.||27.798||194.259|