Saturday, June 23, 2018
Sports

Biffle, Edwards aim to keep NASCAR Chase leaders honest

DOVER, Del. — Matt Kenseth has Chase perfection. Kyle Busch nailed the runnerup finishes. And no driver can touch the championship pedigree of Jimmie Johnson.

Led by Kenseth, the top three drivers in the Sprint Cup standings have started to separate themselves from the rest of the field with eight races left in the Chase for the Championship.

But is the list of contenders set? Have only three drivers out of 13 really emerged as favorites to win NASCAR's title?

Not so fast.

Carl Edwards is lurking in fourth, and Greg Biffle and Kevin Harvick have certainly stamped themselves as drivers who can win races and wrest the top spot away from Kenseth.

"I can't imagine with eight races to go that somebody would be willing to say, 'Oh, this is a three-man race,' " Biffle said.

As the Chase shifts today to Dover International Speedway, the field knows time is running short to widen the list of contenders. They'll need strong finishes and hope the top three find trouble.

Kenseth, with a series-high seven wins, leads Busch by 14 points and Johnson by 18. Edwards (36 back), Biffle (38), and Harvick (39) are in the mix. Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Joey Logano and Kasey Kahne round out the field.

"I wouldn't be the one putting my name on the line to say there are only three cars in this hunt right now," Biffle said. "I wasn't necessarily saying that for the (No.) 16 team. I wasn't making the case that it's not a three-man race because of us. I wouldn't count out Carl Edwards or any of those other guys that are right there in the hunt."

Biffle, third last week at New Hampshire, knows as well as any driver that a title isn't won in the first two races. He was the first driver in Chase history to win the first two races (2008) of the 10-race playoff, then finished third at Kansas. But Johnson took the title as Biffle had four finishes of 10th or worse and came in third in points.

"Am I surprised they're not talking about the 16? Not really because we tend to slide a little bit under the radar all the time anyway," Biffle said. "It doesn't bother me."

Biffle has two wins and 10 top 10s in 22 starts at the 1-mile track and starts 19th in today's AAA 400. Edwards, Biffle's Roush Fenway Racing teammate, starts fourth.

While not the closest of friends, Biffle and Edwards respect each other and do what they can to put the teams in position to win.

"Carl and I are parked next to each other in the garage, and we're talking about our cars and competition and how our car is in race trim versus qualifying trim, so we share everything and try to help one another with what we can," Biffle said.

Sprint Cup points

With eight races remaining in the Chase for the Championship.

Driver Pts. Back

Matt Kenseth 2,111—

Kyle Busch 2,097 14

Jimmie Johnson 2,093 18

Carl Edwards 2,075 36

Greg Biffle 2,073 38

Kevin Harvick 2,072 39

Kurt Busch 2,071 40

Jeff Gordon 2,069 42

Ryan Newman 2,064 47

Clint Bowyer 2,063 48

Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2,049 62

Joey Logano 2,042 69

Kasey Kahne 2,040 71

Today's race

AAA 400, 2 p.m., Dover (Del.) International Speedway

TV/radio: ESPN, 102.5-FM

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