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NSCS: Chase Hopefuls Kahne, Ambrose, Dillon All Falter

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BRISTOL, TENN. – With just three races remaining until the Chase for the Sprint Cup, drivers like Kasey Kahne, Marcos Ambrose and Austin Dillon, who haven’t won a race yet this season, have little room for error. Each of the drivers listed above needed to have a great race to potentially make the Chase Grid by way of points. Each of these three drivers failed to deliver on Saturday night.

Austin Dillon was out to lunch from the drop of the green flag. The Sprint Cup Series rookie, who entered the race 13th in the championship standings, started from the 26th position. Dillon immediately fell through the field like a rock from a cliff. By lap 30 he was in the 40th position, a lap down.

Dillon would gain some positions as attrition would knock several other drivers out of contention, but Dillon could only muster a 28th place finish. The No. 3 car was seven laps off the pace, and now Dillon faces an uphill battle to make it back into Chase contention as he sits 40 points behind 16th seed Greg Biffle. Dillon would not only have to out-point Biffle by 40 over the next two races, but he will also have to leap frog Kyle Larson, and Kasey Kahne as well if he’s to make the Chase.

Marcos Ambrose had high hopes heading into this weekend, as he had a decent track record over the years at this half-mile race track (six top-10 finishes in 11 previous starts). Ambrose rolled off from the 10th position, and was competitive early in the going, but something began to fail in the suspension of his No. 9 Ford Fusion.

Under the competition yellow at lap 60, Ambrose went down four laps for suspension repairs. Ambrose and Co. would deal with the car bottoming out the remainder of the event.

A flat tire on lap 154, and a crash on lap 375 would doom any chance Ambrose had at a decent finish. Ambrose would limp home to a 34th-place finish. Ambrose must now hope for a win in the next two races if he has any hope of making it into the 2014 Chase Grid.

Kasey Kahne actually had a realistic shot at a victory on Saturday. In what’s been a frustration of a season, Kahne looked destined to reverse his fortunes. He rocketed from the 12th starting position to lead 40 laps. It looked like at the very least Kahne would be a factor in the finish of this race.

A loose wheel around lap 230 is what spiraled Kahne’s night out of control. Kahne would lose two laps getting a new set of tires bolted on, but would head to the garage on lap 381 when the team couldn’t get the right front tire to stay on his car.

Kahne would finish a disappointing 35th, 23 laps off the pace. Kahne now heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway 33 points behind Greg Biffle for the final seed in the Chase Grid.

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About Toby Christie

Toby Christie is the Senior Writer for Rubbings Racing. He has been watching NASCAR since 1993, and has covered the sport as a media member since 2007. Toby is a proud member of the NMPA. Additionally, Toby is a lifelong Miami Dolphins fan, subpar guitarist and he is pretty good around a mini-golf course.

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