Following a rather pleasant, straightforward opening round of the 2016 Sprint Cup Series Chase for the Championship, Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway simply flipped the tables.
Standing as the opening race of the Round of 12, the 500-miler saw more than half the Chase field suffer some sort of issue, putting drivers like Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Chase Elliott on the outside heading to Kansas Speedway next week.
“If that’s not dramatic enough, I don’t know what you’re expecting,” said Carl Edwards, who finished 12th in the rain-postponed Bank of America 500.
Edwards, who managed his solid finish despite receiving damage to his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, noticed the attrition rate among fellow championship players, saying it has only begun as we approach the next two races at Kansas and Talladega.
“This is NASCAR, it’s crazy,” he said. “You do everything you can, you never know what’s going to happen. You can never quit. These are going to be a wild next two races.”
Sitting 20 points above the cutoff zone, Edwards is in semi-comfortable air. However, with Talladega looming in two weeks’ time, the two-time winner this season expects only the craziest until then.
“You’re going to see it next week, it’s only going to get wilder,” he said. “Guys are going to be trying hard. And then we go to Talladega and you know how that goes. I can’t imagine the last lap at Talladega at this point.”
With blown engines, accidents and cut tires on Sunday, only eight points separate eighth and 12th in points. During what has been called the most competitive Chase in years, Edwards knows how quickly the order can shift from lap to lap.
“Any one of these Chase guys can go out and win,” he said. “You can’t take anything for granted. It shows you how tough this is and how things can change quickly. And you’re going to see more of it. One little mistake, one bit of bad luck will end your hopes.”
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