How the 16 drivers fared in Sunday’s Chase opener


JOLIET, Ill. – Sunday’s opening race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup was good for 12 of the 16 contestants, as they dominated the top-15 finishers in the 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.

But four others struggled and find themselves in a hole heading into the second race of the Chase.

Brad Keselowski, who came into the Chase as the No. 1 seed, retained that position with his come-from-behind victory.

Fellow Chaser Jeff Gordon finished second, followed by Joey Logano (4th), Kevin Harvick (5th), Denny Hamlin (6th), Kyle Busch (7th), Kurt Busch (8th), Matt Kenseth (10th), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (11th), Jimmie Johnson (12th), Kasey Kahne (13th) and Ryan Newman (15th).

The only non-Chase drivers to finish in the top-15 were third-place finisher Kyle Larson, Jamie McMurray (9th) and Martin Truex Jr. (14th).

More: Keselowski surges between Harvick, Larson to win Chase opener at Chicagoland

But it was not the kind of start that four other Chase entrants sought, and they now find themselves in a hole heading into the second race of the Chase next Sunday at New Hampshire.

Richard Petty Motorsports’ Aric Almirola suffered the worst fate, finishing a disappointing 41st.

The motor in his Ford blew up with 37 laps remaining, ending a day that saw Almirola’s No. 43 climb into the top-10 several times during the race.

As a result, Almirola is in the biggest hole. He leaves Chicago in 16th position, 23 points out of 12th-place, which he needs to reach by the end of the third Chase race in two weeks at Dover, lest he be eliminated as the playoff moves into the second round at that point.

Three others also had bad days, but not quite as bad as Almirola.

Greg Biffle finished 23rd and is now 15th in the Chase standings, nine points out of 12th.

AJ Allmendinger finished one position higher than Biffle in 22nd, is in 14th in the standings and is five points out of 12th.

Carl Edwards, meanwhile, finished 20th and is 12th in the standings.

Newman is now 13th in the standings, one point behind Edwards.

The next race is Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Chase for the Sprint Cup standings after Race 1 of 10:

1 Brad Keselowski
2 Jeff Gordon -7 points
3 Joey Logano -10
4 Kevin Harvick -12
5 Dale Earnhardt Jr. -17
6 Denny Hamlin -18
7 Kyle Busch -18
8 Jimmie Johnson -18
9 Kurt Busch -20
10 Matt Kenseth -25
11 Kasey Kahne -25
12 Carl Edwards -29
13 Ryan Newman -30
14 AJ Allmendinger -34
15 Greg Biffle -38
16 Aric Almirola -52

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NTT re-signs as IndyCar title sponsor in multiyear deal starting with the 2024 season

James Black/Penske Entertainment

The IndyCar Series has re-signed NTT as its title sponsor in a multiyear agreement starting in 2024.

NTT, a global information technology and communications company based in Japan, became the series’ title sponsor before the 2019 season after starting as a sponsor of the No. 10 Dallara-Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing.

NTT Data (a subsidiary of parent company Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp.) will remain the official technology partner of IndyCar, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indy 500 and the NASCAR Brickyard weekend.

With the extension, an IndyCar spokesman said NTT would become the second-longest title sponsor in series history. The longest title sponsor was PPG from 1980-97 (under the CART sanction of the Champ Car Series).

NTT replaced Verizon, which was IndyCar’s title sponsor from 2014-18 after IZOD from 2010-13.

“NTT is an excellent partner across our enterprise with strong expertise and a deep commitment to our sport,” Penske Corp. chairman and IndyCar owner Roger Penske said in a release. “From Smart Venue technology at the Racing Capital of the World to the reimagined Series mobile application, NTT is transforming the fan experience in new and innovative ways. We look forward to a bright future together.”

NTT has used artificial intelligence-enabled optical detection technology at IMS to provide information to the track’s operations and security teams, helping improve fan traffic flow and safety, the track said.

“IndyCar is a great partner for NTT Data because of our shared commitment to driving innovation, increasing sustainability and delivering amazing experiences,” NTT Data CEO Kaz Nishihata said in a release. “We also appreciate how IndyCar is so diverse, with drivers from 15 different countries, and races that range from short ovals and superspeedways to road and street courses. It’s both an incredible sport and a wonderful example for our world.”

NTT also has been instrumental in helping redesign the IndyCar app and providing more race and driver data for use in NBC Sports’ broadcasts by utilizing 140 data points from every car in the field.

“NTT is fully invested in the development and growth of our sport and has already established a terrific track record in our industry with problem-solving capabilities and access to top talent and tools,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said.

Said NTT Data Services CEO Bob Pryor: “We’re thrilled to continue our collaborations that enhance and expand the fan experience for motorsports and serve as proof points for data analytics, AI, and other innovative digital technologies. For more than a century, this racing series has pioneered innovations making driving safer for everyone, and by continuing this relationship, we will accelerate the pace of innovations and new technologies, particularly related to sustainability that ultimately can benefit organizations, communities and individuals around the world.”

Starting as a Japanese telephone company, NTT grew into a $100 billion-plus tech services giant with U.S. operations based in Plano, Texas.