Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Race Week Schedule

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Race Week Schedule

Article excerpt

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- After 30 years and 11 Sprint Cup championships, famed NASCAR owner Rick Hendrick knows all about the pressure that goes with trying to be the best of the best.

And with his four teams in the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup having to survive three rounds just to get an opportunity at the championship, Hendrick is well aware of the challenge that faces him and his talented stable of drivers, which includes six-time champion Jimmie Johnson, four-time champ Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne.

Now the key for the 12 remaining Chase teams is to not only survive but thrive under the mounting pressure as the Chase begins the Contender Round in the Hollywood Casino 400 at 1 p.m. Sunday at Kansas Speedway.

Gordon is a three-time Kansas winner and enters Sunday's race as the defending champion at the Speedway after winning in May.

The original 16-driver Chase field was cut to 12 competitors for the next three races in the Contender Round. All 12 remaining drivers had their points reset to 3,000 for the Contender Round. The championship contenders will be reduced to eight after race No. 6 and to the final four after race No. 9.

The highest finisher among those four drivers in the final race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway will be crowned the 2014 Sprint Cup champion.

Hendrick said he and his organization are ready for what is to come.

"I feel pressure all the time, but that's just part of it," said Hendrick, who has celebrated six titles, three second-place finishes and three thirds since the Chase started in 2004. "I think the pressure pushes you to try to do better and to fix things that are broken, or if you see areas that you can make better, then you work on them. That's driven by the competitiveness you have and the pressure.

"I've gotten used to it. …

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