NASCAR Chase down to the Elite Eight

NASCAR Chase down to the Elite Eight

The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup is down to eight.

Only eight drivers remain in the running for the season championship after Joey Logano's win at Talladega this past weekend.

Big-name drivers Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr. were eliminated in the latest round, and only the following drivers remain: Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Logano, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch.

Chicagoland Speedway's Scott Paddock stopped by SportsTalk Live on Monday to discuss the latest happenings in NASCAR as the Chase races toward its conclusion.

See what he had to say in the video above.

Kurt Busch steals a monster of a win in Daytona 500

Kurt Busch steals a monster of a win in Daytona 500

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Kurt Busch had a monster start to the season with a last-lap pass to win the crash-filled Daytona 500.

Busch is sponsored by Monster Energy, which kicked off its first season as the title sponsor for NASCAR's top series Sunday with the season-opener. It wasn't NASCAR finest moment, though, as multiple accidents pared down the field and had a mismatched group of drivers racing for the win at the end.

"The more that becomes unpredictable about Daytona, the more it becomes predictable to predict unpredictability," Busch said. "This car's completely thrashed. There's not a straight panel on it. The strategy today, who knew what to pit when, what segments were what. Everybody's wrecking as soon as we're done with the second segment.

"The more that I've run this race, the more that I just throw caution to the wind, let it rip and just elbows out. That's what we did."

It appeared to be pole-sitter Chase Elliott's race to lose, then he ran out of gas. So did Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr. and Paul Menard. As they all slipped off the pace, Busch sailed through for his first career Daytona 500 victory.

It also was the first Daytona 500 win for Stewart-Haas Racing, which is co-owned by Tony Stewart. The three-time champion retired at the end of last season and watched his four cars race from the pits.

"I ran this damn race (17) years and couldn't win it, so finally won it as an owner," Stewart said.

Ryan Blaney finished second in a Ford. AJ Allmendinger was third in a Chevrolet, and Aric Almirola was fourth for Richard Petty Motorsports.

The win was a huge boost for Ford, which lured Stewart-Haas Racing away from Chevrolet this season and celebrated the coup with its second Daytona 500 victory in three years. Joey Logano won in a Ford in 2015.

The first points race of the Monster era was run under a new format that split the 500 miles into three stages. Kyle Busch won the first stage, Kevin Harvick won the second stage and neither was a contender for the win. NASCAR also this year passed a rule that gave teams just five minutes to repair any damage on their cars or they were forced to retire.

But the race was slowed by wreck after wreck after wreck, including a 17-car accident at the start of the final stage that ended the race for seven-time and reigning series champion Jimmie Johnson and Danica Patrick. It was a particularly rough incident for Patrick and her Stewart-Haas Racing team, which had all four of its cars collected in the accident.

"Just seems like that could have been avoided and was uncalled for," Johnson said of the aggressive racing behind him that triggered the accident.

Martin Truex Jr. wins Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 from Chicagoland Speedway

Martin Truex Jr. wins Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 from Chicagoland Speedway

JOLIET, Ill. (AP) — Martin Truex Jr. went from a completely unraveled tire that left him a lap down to the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup championship lead for the first time in his career.

He can thank a late caution in what has been an emotional year for the small-team driver.

Truex shot to the front after a late restart and pulled away to give Furniture Row Racing a NASCAR Sprint Cup playoff-opening victory Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway.

"I've had a lot of practice at it," Truex said about the on-track obstacles. "I think my approach really changed two years ago when (girlfriend) Sherry got diagnosed with cancer. My approach to all those things changed and made me a better driver."

NASCAR announced after the race that Truex's No. 78 Toyota failed the laser inspection, but the infraction was not at the level of negating the victory for Chase qualification purposes. Truex is expected to receive a point penalty this week.

Rookie Chase Elliott appeared on his way to an easy win until Michael McDowell blew a tire and spun out to bring a caution with five laps left.

Elliott and Truex came in to pit for tires, with some non-Chase drivers Ryan Blaney and Kasey Kahne and Chase contender Carl Edwards staying on the track.

Truex restarted fourth and Elliott fifth, and Truex quickly got to the front and held off Joey Logano on the final lap for his third victory of the season. Truex is guaranteed to move on when the Chase field is cut from 16 to 12 in two weeks.

Truex, whose team gets technical support from Joe Gibbs Racing, made the last four in the 2015 Chase. His 2016 season started with near miss at the Daytona 500 and a Coca-Cola 600 win, while Sherry Pollex has battled ovarian cancer. She's now in remission.

"You have to understand, this isn't the end of the world." Truex said of racing setbacks. "We can overcome it. That's what we did today."

Elliott, a rookie, finished third, followed by Blaney and Chase driver Brad Keselowski, who sits second in points.

"It's not yours until it's over," the 20-year-old Elliott said. "That's part of life, man. You're not dumb. We've all watched this stuff long enough to know these races don't go green that long."

Truex led early in the race only to have his tire come completely unraveled. It led to an unscheduled stop that left him a lap down in the 400-mile race.

"The hard compound came off it," Cole Pearn, Truex's crew chief, said. "I guess (Goodyear) saw a couple other tires and came down and told us a certain sequence number had an issue."

Truex had no other tire issues on the 1.5-mile oval and outraced Kevin Harvick, who also got into early trouble, to be in position for the free pass to the lead lap on the next caution.

Jimmie Johnson dominated the middle of the race, leading 118 laps, until Elliott got by him on lap 176 of 267.

Johnson was running second when he was caught speeding on pit road during the last green-flag stop, yelling "no way!" on his radio when told he had to serve a pass-through penalty. Johnson finished 12th, but his car also failed laser inspection and he could plummet in the points standings.

Elliott led for 75 laps in what was a clean race with only three cautions until McDowell's late wreck changed the dynamic of the race.

"I feel for Chase. I know what he's going through," Truex said. "I wasn't going to catch him."