Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Ryan Newman both made the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs by virtue of thrilling victories. Their playoff runs have more or less been the opposite of that.
With finishes of 25th and 15th and 23rd and 13th respectively, Stenhouse and Newman have both had anonymous playoff performances that have them teetering on the line of elimination as the series enters its first elimination race at Dover International Speedway. Presently, Stenhouse is tied with Austin Dillon for the final spot in the Round of 12 (A tiebreaker that Stenhouse wins by virtue of his two wins to Dillon’s one), while Newman trails said tiebreaker by a point.
“Our mindset is the same going into Dover,” Stenhouse told NASCAR.com, “You race your race, stay as far up, keep your track position as best you can throughout the whole race, and after that second stage is really when you have to start paying attention to the cars you’re racing.”
Newman will have a leg up on Stenhouse to begin Sunday’s race, as he qualified his Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet in the 8th position, while Stenhouse will start 15th.
At the other end of the spectrum, Kyle Larson and Jimmie Johnson are both in a good position to advance to the Round of 12 barring a major catastrophe. Not only do the two have a significant cushion between themselves and the cutoff line, but they also battled each other for the win in Dover’s Spring race, with Johnson prevailing.