Three Stewart-Haas Racing Drivers Qualify for the Chase
The 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship will include three drivers from Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR); Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, and Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet. They will make up three of the 16 drivers heading into the 10-race Chase to determine the winner of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship.
NASCAR recalibrated the points for the 16 Chase drivers as soon as the Federated Auto Parts 400 in Richmond (Va.) was over, with each driver getting 2,000 points. Drivers also received three bonus points for each of their respective wins during the 26-race regular season. For drivers starting the Chase with identical point totals, their seed was determined by the traditional tiebreaker of best finishes beyond race victories.
Positions 1-13 in the Chase field consist of 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.
Kurt Busch equates the pressure of the Chase in NASCAR to playoffs in other sports.
“The way that the 2004 Chase was introduced that puts us into a 10-week stretch of accumulating the most points or doing the best in the postseason” states Busch. “Now, with our new structure where it’s three races, advance, three races, advance, it’s a bit tougher because you can have a part failure come up in one of those three and completely kill the whole season. Yet, you’ve got to be your best at the end. That is what this format is all about. You have a regular-season atmosphere; you have your playoff season, Chase atmosphere.”
Busch qualified for the Chase via his win at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway in June. He’ll start the Chase 12th with three bonus points. Busch finished the regular season ranked fifth with 762 points. This is Busch’s fourth-straight Chase appearance and 10th overall. He won the championship in his Chase debut in 2004.
Harvick qualified for the Chase by virtue of his two wins at Phoenix International Raceway in March and at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in August. Each of his regular-season victories were worth three bonus points. As such, Harvick carries six bonus points into the Chase to slot fourth among the 16 drivers. Harvick finished the regular season ranked first with 876 points. This is Harvick’s seventh consecutive Chase appearance and his 10th overall. He won the Sprint Cup championship in 2014.
Stewart qualified for the Chase via his win at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway in June. He’ll start the Chase 11th with three bonus points. Stewart finished the regular season ranked 27th with 434 points. This is Stewart’s ninth Chase appearance and his first since 2012. Stewart won the Sprint Cup championship in 2005 and 2011. He won his first championship in 2002 under the former season-long format.
The first race of the Chase will take place in Chicago before heading to New Hampshire and Dover, at which point the 16 driver field will be cut to 12. All of the drivers will be looking for wins, which will automatically lock them into the next round.