We’re seven days away from the second elimination race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
And unlike the Challenger Round finale at Dover, this one may be worth the wait.
The restrictor-plate madness of Talladega Superspeedway could easily deliver multiple championship twists and turns before the end of next Sunday’s GEICO 500.
And the only two drivers that are immune to such chaos are Kansas winner Joey Logano and last night’s winner at Charlotte, Kevin Harvick, who are safely in the Eliminator Round.
As for the rest of the Chasers, here’s where everybody needs to finish in order to guarantee their own Eliminator spot regardless of the finish of any other driver:
Kyle Busch (+26 points over ninth place): 24th or better, 25th and at least one lap led, 26th and most laps led
Ryan Newman (+21 points): 19th or better, 20th and at least one lap led, 21st and most laps led
Carl Edwards (+20 points): 18th or better, 19th and at least one lap led, 20th and most laps led
Jeff Gordon (+18 points): 16th or better, 17th and at least one lap led, 18th and most laps led
Denny Hamlin (+17 points): 15th or better, 16th and at least one lap led, 17th and most laps led
Kasey Kahne (+1 point), Matt Kenseth (-1 point behind eighth place), Brad Keselowski (-19 points), Jimmie Johnson (-26 points) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (-26 points) only control their own destiny by winning Sunday at Talladega.
On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.
And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.
Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.
The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.
“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.
“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.
“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”
A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.