Four races into the Chase and we have seen a little bit of something different each week. Take the first race at Chicagoland Speedway, rain was the order of the delay and we had to wait until Monday. Tony Stewart took the win to open the Chase. Travel to New Hampshire the following weekend and again we see Tony Stewart take the win. The talk after the race, was Jimmie Johnson’s reign was over? Dover last weekend for the boys of the Sprint Cup Series gave us a victory by Kurt Busch. Now the talk switches to Jimmie Johnson on the comeback. The scene switches to Kansas for this week. So what story did we see play out today on the track?

The Hollywood Casino 400 brought us some exciting racing on the mile and a half track. Jimmie Johnson officially served notice to all those who tried to write him off after the first couple of Chase races. Johnson captured his second checkered flag of the season. With the victory today, Johnson moved even closer to retaking his spot on top of the points. Johnson now sits in the third position in the points and is only four points from overtaking point leader Carl Edwards. Kevin Harvick holds the second position in the points, and is only one point from leading the pack.

Johnson not only won the race today, but no one had anything that could touch the Hendrick Motorsports Lowe’s Chevrolet. Johnson led the race seven times for a total of 197 laps of the 272 laps. The next closest lap leader in the race was Matt Kenseth with 26 laps led. Johnson had to contend with some late race cautions where others did not pit. He made easy work of those drivers and maintained his dominance on the track to get the win.

Now that we have completed the first four rounds of the Chase, we have some drivers that have all but eliminated themselves from winning the championship this year. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman, and Denny Hamlin need several miracles to even consider touching the silver Sprint Cup trophy at Homestead in a couple of weeks. Hamlin has already admitted that his team is preparing for next year. Poor performances by that team have eliminated their shot at the cup before it ever really got started.

Let’s discuss how Jeff Gordon has gotten himself now 47 points behind the leader. At Chicago, Gordon ran out of fuel at the end of the race and coasted to the finish. Decent runs at New Hampshire and Dover kept Gordon in the mix. Then we got to Kansas today. Gordon looked good most of the day. He was up in the top five for most of the race, but did not look like he had anything for Johnson at the head of the pack. It all went wrong with roughly 30 laps to go. Gordon was around sixth or so for a restart and dropped like a rock. With three laps to go in the race the number 24 DuPont Chevrolet erupted in a ball smoke as the engine let go. This is the first engine failure I recall for Gordon this season. I could be wrong though. With the engine expiring, Gordon finished in a disappointing 34th position.

Newman and Earnhardt Jr. have fallen off the radar during the Chase races. In today’s race Earnhardt Jr. finished in the 14th position, while Newman finished 18th. Both these drivers have not been consistent during the first four Chase races. If you are a Chase driver and are not in top ten each week, you can forget about winning the Cup.

Chasers’ finishing position at Kansas:
1. Jimmie Johnson
3. Brad Keselowski
4. Matt Kenseth
5. Carl Edwards
6. Kevin Harvick
11. Kyle Busch
13. Kurt Busch
14. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
15. Tony Stewart
16. Denny Hamlin
18. Ryan Newman
34. Jeff Gordon

Chase Point Standings:
Carl Edwards 2161
Kevin Harvick -1
Jimmie Johnson -4
Brad Keselowski -11
Matt Kenseth -12
Kurt Busch -16
Tony Stewart -19
Kyle Busch -20
Dale Earnhardt Jr.-43
Jeff Gordon -47
Ryan Newman -54
Denny Hamlin -79

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