Potential Chase spoilers are plentiful for today’s Eliminator Round race at Texas

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Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s victory in last weekend’s Eliminator Round opener at Martinsville Speedway ensured that at least two of the four spots for the Sprint Cup Championship Race will be decided on points.

Could that number go up to three today? The spotlight may be on the Eliminator 8 in today’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, but the field is littered with potential spoilers that can wipe out another automatic bid to South Florida.

That would be a bad scenario for three Chasers in particular – Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick, all of whom are currently below the cutoff for advancement by double-digit margins (although Harvick would still be somewhat buoyed by the fact that he’s basically owned Phoenix, which hosts the Eliminator Round finale next weekend).

So which non-Chase competitors should you keep an eye on today in Fort Worth? Here’s five…

1) Jimmie Johnson – Starts 3rd

Eliminated from the Chase in the Contender Round, Johnson’s all about making sure everybody knows that he’ll be a force once again in 2015. He topped final practice yesterday and in that session, he also had the best 10-consecutive lap average as well. It would appear he has the race pace to contend today for a fourth Texas win, which leads to a big question: Could Chase Grid leader Jeff Gordon (starts 2nd) have to battle a Hendrick Motorsports teammate again for a win that would propel him to the Championship?

2) Tony Stewart – Starts 6th

The relief on Stewart’s face was palpable after he squeezed out a Top-5 finish last weekend at Martinsville. And this weekend at Texas, he’s shown that he’s got a fast hot rod by popping the first 200-mph qualifying lap on a 1.5-mile oval in NASCAR history. He’s been toward the top of all three practice sessions, so look for “Smoke” to continue his momentum.

3) Kyle Busch – Starts 9th

Bummed as he may be over getting knocked out of the Chase, a triple-header sweep at Texas would raise Rowdy’s spirits – even if it would make things more tense for Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin, his two Joe Gibbs Racing teammates that are still in the Chase. However, it bears noting that while Busch has won 11 NASCAR national series races at TMS, only one of them have come in Sprint Cup competition.

4) Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Starts 12th

We didn’t get to see much of Junior this past spring at Texas. On Lap 13 of the race (which was postponed to Monday because of heavy rains), Earnhardt slipped a tire into the tri-oval grass and then slammed into the outside wall in a fiery crash. But considering Hendrick’s overall performance on 1.5-milers like Texas, Earnhardt can have a say in today’s outcome if he can avoid trouble.

5) Martin Truex Jr. – Starts 8th

We needed a non-Chaser outside of that Hendrick/Gibbs/Hendrick-powered group, so let’s go with Truex, who finished fourth a few weeks back on the 1.5-miler at Kansas. The Furniture Row has been steady this weekend at Texas in the practice runs – fourth in both first and second practices, and seventh in “Happy Hour.”

Supercross points leader Eli Tomac finds silver linings in interruption

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Though his Monster Energy AMA Supercross championship charge was put on hold, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had a silver lining for Eli Tomac.

Off the road while the season was postponed for nearly three months, the points leader was able to be present as his girlfriend, Jessica, gave birth to their daughter, Lev, on April 26

“A huge blessing for us there,” Tomac told host Mike Tirico during a “Lunch Talk Live” interview (click on the video above) in which he also joked about becoming a pro at busting off diaper changes. “That was one good blessing for us as we had our daughter on a Sunday, that would have been on a travel day coming back from the race in Las Vegas.

NBCSN

“That was probably the only positive out of all this mess was being able to be there for the birth.”

But there also could be more good fortune for Tomac as the series resumes Sunday at Salt Lake City, Utah (3-4 p.m. ET on NBCSN, 4-6 p.m. on NBC).

The final seven events will be held over 22 days in Rice-Eccles Stadium, which sits at just over 4,000 feet.

The elevation could favor Tomac, who was born and lives in Colorado and is accustomed to riding and training at altitude, which is a departure for many Supercross riders (many of whom hail from California and Florida).

COVID-19 TESTING REQUIRED: Supercross outlines protocols for last seven races

“That’s going to be the test for us,” said the Kawasaki rider, who five of the first 10 races this season. “We’re at elevation in Salt Lake, so when you’re on a motorcycle, you have a little bit of a loss of power. That’s just what happens when you come up in elevation. And a lot of guys train at sea level, and we’re at 4,000 to 5,000 feet, so cardio-wise, we’ll be pushed to the limit.

“Most of our races are Saturday nights and back to back weeks, but this go around it’s Sunday and Wednesday, so recovery is going to be key.”

Supercross will race Sunday and Wednesday for the next three weeks, capping the season with the June 21 finale, which also will be shown on NBCSN from 3-4:30 p.m. ET and NBC from 4:30-6 p.m. ET.

Tomac, who holds a three-point lead over Ken Roczen (who also recently visited “Lunch Talk Live”), told Tirico he had been riding for 90 minutes Thursday morning on a track outside Salt Lake City.

“Most of us we can rely on our past riding pretty well,” Tomac said. “The question is if you can go the distance. That’s what a lot of guys have to train on is going the distance. We go 20 minutes plus a lap. That’s what you’ve got to keep sharp is your general muscles. Within two to three days, your brain starts warming up more if you take a few weeks off the motorcycle.”

Here is the schedule and TV information for the rest of the season:

  • Sunday, May 31 (3-4 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4-6 p.m. ET, NBC);
  • Wednesday, June 3 ( 10:00 pm – 1:00 am ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 7 (5-8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 10 (7–10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 14 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 17 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 21 (3-4:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. ET, NBC).
Eli Tomac rides his No. 3 Kawasaki in the Feb. 29 race at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia (Charles Mitchell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).