Your Chase for the Sprint Cup advance scenarios for Talladega

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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.

Hunter and Jett Lawrence walk a delicate balance between winning races and favoring the fans

Hunter Jett Lawrence fans
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ANAHEIM, California – Hunter and Jett Lawrence are two of the most popular riders on the Monster Energy Supercross circuit, with fan bases that established and grew immediately when they came to America to ride for HRC Honda. Connecting with those fans came naturally for the charming Australian brothers, but it has not come without cost.

“It’s cool they’re there and it’s one of the things we try to do is give the fan that interaction,” Hunter told NBC Sports during Supercross Media Sessions ahead of the 2023 season. “It’s why we do ride days, meet-and-greets, press conferences  – all that stuff, because it’s exciting for them. We are trying to bridge the gap so they get personal interaction. Because that’s all they’re after. It’s all about getting that fan to think, ‘I know that guy. I didn’t meet him, but I get him. I get his humor.’ ”

There is no artifice in either brother. Their fan appeal is directly attributable to who they are at their core. And it’s that very genuineness that has throngs of fans standing outside their hauler, waiting for just a moment of their time.

“It’s about being yourself – talking to people,” Hunter said. “It’s not like I turn it on or turn it off; it’s just about being yourself. This is who we are, this is who you get and this is how it will be. You can’t portray something you’re not. If you keep saying you’re an orange, but apples keep popping out, it’s only a matter of time [until they figure it out].”

The key word is ‘throngs’, however. One person wanting just a few moments of time is incidental. Dozens are an entirely different matter.

“It’s tough in Supercross because it’s such a long day,” Hunter said. “The recovery side of it’s tough to do everything. We get stuck outside the grid; we can’t be there for like 10 minutes. We’re stuck there for like an hour. It gets overwhelming at times.

“You feel bad because you want to sign everything, but you’re still here for a job. Every race day is like that. We do the best we can, but there are so many people who wait out front. They’re screaming for you. Even when we’re coming off the sessions, they’re already yelling before you put your bike on the stands. You don’t even get time to take you helmet off.”

It can be a double-edged sword. Personality is only one part of the equation. A much bigger part of the brothers’ fan appeal comes because of their success. Hunter finished second in the last two Supercross 250 West title battles and third in the past two Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Jett won the last three titles he competed for, including last year’s 250 East Supercross Championship and the last two Motocross contests.

“I think they expect me to have nothing else to do on a Saturday and that I have unlimited energy,” Jett said. “But, I’m trying to recover for the next race.”

It’s a matter of timing. Jett has gained a reputation last year for handing out hundreds of donuts before the races during Red Bull fan appreciation sessions. And after the race, once the business at hand has been settled, Jett is equally available to the fans.

“After the race it’s fine; I’ll stay behind.” Jett said. “My job is done on the racing side of things, but until that last moto is done, my main thing is dirt bikes. The fans come along with it. The fans are part of the job, but main job at hand is the racing side of things. After the race, I’ll stay there for an hour or so. It’s a lot calmer.”