Chase’s version of musical chairs: nine drivers to battle for five advancement spots at Dover


When NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France announced the revised format for the Chase for the Sprint Cup earlier this year, he promised drama, pathos and intrigue as the 10-race playoff played out.

Well, here we are just two races in and there’s going to be a boatload of the France-promised drama, pathos, etc., heading into next Sunday’s race at Dover International Speedway.

The third race of the Chase, Dover will also mark the cut-off for the first of three elimination rounds in the playoffs.

More: Joey Logano avoids “yellow fever,” wins at N.H. to advance in Chase

In a racing version of musical chairs, four drivers will be eliminated after Dover. And heading there, right now, a total of nine drivers are on the elimination bubble.

Five of those nine will make it, four won’t.

And there is only 12 points separating those nine drivers.

Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards are tied for eighth in the Chase standings, each 40 points behind series leader Brad Keselowski.

AJ Allmendinger is one point back, in 10th place, 41 points behind Keselowski, while Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman are tied for 11th, both 42 points back.

At this juncture, Kahne and Newman are on the good side of the Chase cutoff bubble.

Then there are the four drivers who, as of this writing, are on the outside looking in, with one race left to put themselves back on the positive side of the ledger.

Chase standings after New Hampshire:
1 Brad Keselowski
2 Joey Logano -1
3 Kevin Harvick -7
4 Jimmie Johnson -17
5 Kyle Busch -20
5 Dale Earnhardt Jr. -20
7 Jeff Gordon -27
8 Matt Kenseth -40
8 Carl Edwards -40
10 AJ Allmendinger -41
11 Kasey Kahne -42
11 Ryan Newman -42
13 Denny Hamlin -48
13 Greg Biffle -48
15 Kurt Busch -50
16 Aric Almirola -52

Denny Hamlin suffered the biggest blow of all Chase drivers Sunday, dropping seven places from sixth to a tie with Greg Biffle for 13th, both drivers 48 points behind Keselowski.

Hamlin had one of the roughest days he’s ever had in his Cup career Sunday. First, he suffered a problem with the fuel filler receptacle, which prevented his team from being able to add fuel to Hamlin’s Camry.

Then, as if to add insult to injury, Hamlin’s day came to a crashing halt when he was involved in a three-car wreck with David Ragan and Martin Truex Jr., relegating Hamlin to a disappointing 37th-place finish.

Biffle, who barely managed to make the Chase as one of three drivers without a win thus far this season (and all three, Biffle, Kenseth and Newman remain winless in 2014), just could not get on track in Sunday’s race – one that he has previously won – and finds himself in 14th place in the rankings heading to Dover.

Unless Biffle makes a dramatic turnaround and garners a top-five finish next Sunday, his Chase hopes are also likely over.

Kurt Busch struggled Sunday, first with a loose wheel, and then later wrecked when a severe tire rub caused him to hit hard into the Turn 3 wall. As a result, Busch dropped six places in the standings to 15th, leaving him 50 points behind Keselowski and eight points behind the present cut-off guys, Newman and Kahne.

Last, but not least, Aric Almirola rebounded strongly from last week’s Chase-opening disappointment at Chicago. Almirola finished sixth at New Hampshire. Ironically, he was running sixth at Chicagoland when the motor on his Ford Fusion let go, relegating him to a 41st-place finish in that race.

And while he finished strong Sunday, Almirola unfortunately failed to gain even one point on Keselowski, remaining 52 points back – the same margin that he trailed Keselowski by coming into Sunday’s race.

Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (both 20 points behind Keselowski), who are tied for fifth, and seventh-ranked Jeff Gordon (27 points back) are all mathematically eligible to be eliminated, as well, but the odds of that happening are unlikely, given the edge they have over the rest of the Chase field.

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IndyCar Detroit Grand Prix: How to watch, start times, TV, schedules, streaming

IndyCar Detroit start times
Ryan Garza/USA TODAY Sports Images Network

The NTT IndyCar Series will return to the Motor City for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix but with start times in a new location for 2023.

After a 30-year run on Belle Isle, the Detroit GP has moved a few miles south to the streets of downtown on a new nine-turn, 1.7-mile circuit that runs along the Detroit River.

It’s the first time single-seater open-cockpit cars have raced on the streets of Detroit since a CART event on a 2.5-mile downtown layout from 1989-91. Formula One also raced in Detroit from 1982-88.

The reimagined Detroit Grand Prix also will play host to nightly concerts and bring in venders from across the region. Roger Penske predicts the new downtown locale will be bigger for Detroit than when the city played host to the 2006 Super Bowl.

Here are the details and IndyCar start times for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach race weekend (all times are ET):


TV: Sunday, 3 p.m. ET on NBC and streaming on Peacock, the NBC Sports App and Leigh Diffey is the announcer with analysts Townsend Bell and James Hinchcliffe. Dave Burns, Marty Snider and Kevin Lee are the pit reporters. Click here for the full NBC Sports schedule for IndyCar in 2023.

Peacock also will be the streaming broadcast for both practices and qualifying.

POSTRACE SHOW ON PEACOCK: After the race’s conclusion, an exclusive postrace show will air on Peacock with driver interviews, postrace analysis and the podium presentation. To watch the extended postrace show, click over to the special stream on Peacock after Sunday’s race ends.


GREEN FLAG: 3:30 p.m. ET

PRACTICE: Friday, 3 p.m. (Peacock Premium); Saturday, 9:05 a.m. (Peacock Premium); Sunday, 10 a.m. (Peacock Premium)

QUALIFYING: Saturday, 1:20 p.m. (Peacock Premium)

RACE DISTANCE: The race is 100 laps (170 miles) on a nine-turn, 1.7-mile temporary street course in downtown Detroit.

TIRE ALLOTMENT: Seven sets primary, four sets alternate. Rookie drivers are allowed one extra primary set for the first practice.

PUSH TO PASS: 150 seconds of total time with a maximum time of 15 seconds per activation (Indy NXT: 150 seconds total, 15 seconds per). The push-to-pass is not available on the initial start or any restart unless it occurs in the final two laps or three minutes of a timed race. The feature increases the power of the engine by approximately 60 horsepower.

FORECAST: According to, it’s expected to be 80 degrees with a 0% chance of rain.

ENTRY LIST: Click here to view the 27 drivers racing Sunday at Detroit

INDY NXT RACES: Saturday, 12:05 p.m. 45 laps/55 minutes (Peacock Premium); Sunday, 12:50 p.m. 45 laps/55 minutes (Peacock Premium)

INDY NXT ENTRY LISTClick here to view the 19 drivers racing at Detroit


(All times are Eastern)

Friday, June 2

8:30-9:30 a.m.: IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

9:50-10:20 a.m.: Trans Am Series practice

11:40 a.m.-12:40 p.m.: IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

1-1:30 p.m.: Trans Am Series practice

1:50-2:40 p.m.: Indy NXT practice

3-4:30 p.m.: IndyCar practice, Peacock

4:50-5:05 p.m.: IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge qualifying

5:30-6 p.m.: IndyNXT qualifying (Race 1 and 2)

6-7:15 p.m.: A-Track concert (Hart Plaza Stage)

7:30-8:30 p.m.: Big Boi concert (Hart Plaza Stage)

Saturday, June 3

8:15-8:45 a.m.: Trans Am Series qualifying

9:05-10:05 a.m.: IndyCar practice, Peacock

10:35-11:35 a.m.: Trans Am Series, 3-Dimensional Services Group Muscle Car Challenge

12:05-1:00 p.m.: Indy NXT, Race 1 (45 laps or 55 minutes), Peacock

1:15-2:45 p.m.: IndyCar qualifying, Peacock

4:10-5:50 p.m.: IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, Chevrolet Detroit Sports Car Classic (100 minutes), Peacock

5:30-7 p.m.: Z-Trip concert (Hart Plaza Stage)

7-8:30 p.m.: Steve Aoki concert (Hart Plaza Stage)

Sunday, June 4

10:00-10:30 a.m.: IndyCar warmup, Peacock

11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.: Trans Am Series, 3-Dimensional Services Group Motor City Showdown

12:50-1:45 p.m.: Indy NXT, Race 2 (45 laps or 55 minutes), Peacock

2:47 p.m.: IndyCar driver introductions

3:23 p.m.: Command to start engines

3:30 p.m.: Green flag for the Chevrolet Detroit Prix, presented by Lear (100 laps/170 miles), NBC


ROUND 1Marcus Ericsson wins wild opener in St. Petersburg

ROUND 2Josef Newgarden wins Texas thriller over Pato O’Ward

ROUND 3: Kyle Kirkwood breaks through for first career IndyCar victory

ROUND 4: Scott McLaughlin outduels Romain Grosjean at Barber

ROUND 5: Alex Palou dominant in GMR Grand Prix

ROUND 6: Josef Newgarden wins first Indy 500 in 12th attempt 


Inside Team Penske’s bid win another Indy 500 for “The Captain”

Annual photo shows women having an impact on Indy 500 results

Roger Penske feeling hale at another Indy 500 as Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner

Honda needed 45 seconds to approve Graham Rahal racing a Chevy at Indy

A.J. Foyt takes refuge at Indy 500 while weathering grief of wife’s death

Gordon Johncock: The most unassuming Indy 500 legend

Alex Palou on his Indy 500 pole, multitasking at 224 mph and a Chip Ganassi surprise

Marcus Ericsson, engineer Brad Goldberg have ties that run very deep

New competition elements for 2023 include an alternate oval tire

Indy 500 will be Tony Kanaan’s final race

IndyCar drivers say Thermal Club could host a race

IndyCar team owners weigh in on marketing plans, double points

Alexander Rossi fitting in well at McLaren

Phoenix takes flight: Romain Grosjean enjoying the pilot’s life

Helio Castroneves says 2023 season is “huge” for IndyCar future

How Sting Ray Robb got that name

Kyle Larson having impact on future McLaren teammates

Simon Pagenaud on why he likes teasing former teammate Josef Newgarden

HOW TO WATCH INDYCAR IN 2023Full NBC Sports schedule