Busch and Kahne are the two drivers at the bottom of 16-driver playoff standings. Busch won the season-opening Daytona 500 and Kahne got into the playoffs via his win at the Brickyard 400.
The two drivers are in a big hole because of what happened at New Hampshire. Busch got caught up in teammate Kevin Harvick’s spin and ran into Harvick as he slid down the backstretch. Kahne’s car had a mechanical failure late in Sunday’s race. While he completed 141 more laps than Busch did, he finished just two spots ahead in 35th.
Here’s what the points standings look like entering Sunday’s race at Dover, the final race of the first round of the playoffs. The top 12 drivers advance to the second round.
1. Martin Truex Jr., 2,149 points
2. Kyle Larson, 2,125
3. Kyle Busch, 2,119
4. Brad Keselowski, 2,106
5. Denny Hamlin, 2,088
6. Matt Kenseth, 2,087
7. Jimmie Johnson, 2,076
8. Ryan Blaney, 2,070
9. Chase Elliott, 2,070
10. Kevin Harvick, 2,069
11. Jamie McMurray, 2,053
12. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 2,044
13. Austin Dillon, 2,044
14. Ryan Newman, 2,043
15. Kurt Busch, 2,027
16. Kasey Kahne, 2,023
While the fight for the 12th spot is close among Stenhouse, Dillon and Newman and could be decided by just a couple spots at the end of a stage or the race, Busch and Kahne are in a position where they need to either win to guarantee a spot in the second round or hope the three drivers directly ahead of them in the standings have bad days.
Yeah, the odds aren’t good, especially when you consider Busch and Kahne’s past histories at Dover. While Busch has a win at the track, he has just nine top-10 finishes in 34 starts. In the spring, he was at the front when he crashed out of the race with Brad Keselowski.
Kahne’s made 27 starts at Dover and has eight top-10 finishes. He may be leaning heavily on teammate Jimmie Johnson, who has 11 wins at the track.
Busch was eliminated from the playoffs in the first round in 2014, though he’s advanced to the third round in each of the past two seasons. Kahne’s only other playoff appearance in this 16-driver format came in 2014 and he made it to the second round.
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