Road to Richmond Reaches an All-Time Excitement Apex as NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Visits "America's Premier Short Track"

Eleven Drivers Are Vying for Only Eight Spots in the Top-12

Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup

Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart are locked in for the 2009 Chase. But spots 5 through 12 remain unclear.

ROAD TO RICHMOND REACHES AN ALL-TIME EXCITEMENT APEX AS NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES VISITS “AMERICA’S PREMIER SHORT TRACK” THIS SATURDAY FOR “ONE LAST RACE TO MAKE THE CHASE”

Eleven Drivers Are Vying for Only Eight Spots in the Top-12

 

September 9, 2009—Has there ever been this much excitement leading into a NASCAR race? Probably not; and consider the fact that this is the track that annually hosts “One Last Race to Make the Chase” and has produced some of the most intense on-track battles throughout its 57 years of NASCAR racing. So you know this has to be serious.

 

There are a jaw-dropping 11 drivers still in contention for eight spots left to be determined in the 2009 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. After Saturday’s Chevy Rock & Roll 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway, there will only be 12 drivers calling themselves championship contenders.  Four are already locked in—Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin.

 

Carl Edwards, Kasey Kahne, Kurt Busch, Juan Pablo Montoya, Ryan Newman, Mark Martin, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Brian Vickers, Kyle Busch and David Reutimann all have a chance of making the Chase—some have a better chance than others—but a chance, nonetheless.

 

Never in the previous five years of the current Chase format have we seen such uncertainty heading into “One Last Race to Make the Chase”—the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway. Which is why this year’s short-track battle “under the lights” is shaping up to be one of the most anticipated and exciting events of the entire season, and maybe even the most thrilling “cutoff race”…ever.

 

There are too many drivers to list as “Who to Watch” this week.  You really have to watch them all, from top to bottom. You have the drivers who are locked in and those who feel pretty comfortable. But with 10 bonus points in the Chase for every race won during the first 26 events of the season, even the top drivers are looking for a win. Then of course you have the “bubble” drivers who need strong runs to secure their spots in the Chase. And even those who don’t have a shot at the Chase would love to put a Richmond win on their resume, along with taking home one of the most sought-after pieces of hardware in all of sports. The Chevy Rock & Roll 400 trophy is one-of-a-kind, featuring a custom-built Paul Reed Smith guitar, engulfed in metal flames, valued at approximately $20,000.

 

Let’s take a quick look at how the drivers in spots 7-14 have fared at Richmond:

 

Kurt Busch (7th):            1 win, 2 top-5s, 5 top-10s, 1 DNF in 17 races, 5th-best driver rating

Juan Montoya (8th):       0 wins, 0 top-5s, 1 top-10, 1 DNF in 5 races, 26th-best driver rating

Ryan Newman (9th):       1 win, 5 top-5s, 9 top-10s, 0 DNFs in 15 races, 6th-best driver rating

Mark Martin (10th):         1 win, 16 top-5s, 26 top-10s, 3 DNFs in 47 races, 7th-best driver rating

Greg Biffle (11th):           0 wins, 2 top-5s, 5 top-10s, 1 DNF in 14 races, 13th-best driver rating

Matt Kenseth (12th):       1 win, 3 top-5s, 9 top-10s, 1 DNF in 19 races, 17th-best driver rating

Brian Vickers (13th):      0 wins, 0 top-5s, 1 top-10, 1 DNF in 10 races, 36th-best driver rating

Kyle Busch (14th):          1 win, 7 top-5s, 7 top-10s, 0 DNFs in 9 races, 3rd-best driver rating

 

Of these drivers, Kyle Busch has easily turned in the most consistent successful performances at Richmond International Raceway. He trails only Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick for best driver rating. Seven top-5s in just nine races is pretty impressive. Compare that to the driver he needs to leapfrog—Vickers—who has turned in zero top-5s. Kenseth and Biffle are the last two drivers in the Chase right now, and their driver ratings are decent, but may need to step it up if they want to hold off a Kyle Busch who just won here in May.

 

Courtesy of NASCARMedia.com, here are the Chase Clinching Scenarios:

 

Carl Edwards

Edwards is currently 105 points ahead of 13th place. Regardless of any other driver’s finish, he will clinch if he finishes:

  • 24th or better

  • 25th and leads at least one lap

  • 27th and leads most laps

 

Kasey Kahne

Kahne is currently 96 points ahead of 13th place. Regardless of any other driver’s finish, he will clinch if he finishes:

  • 21st or better

  • 23rd and leads at least one lap

  • 24th and leads most laps

 

Kurt Busch

Busch is currently 95 points ahead of 13th place. Regardless of any other driver’s finish, he will clinch if he finishes:

  • 20th or better

  • 22nd and leads at least one lap

  • 24th and leads most laps


Juan Pablo Montoya

Montoya is currently 88 points ahead of 13th place. Regardless of any other driver’s finish, he will clinch if he finishes:

  • 18th or better

  • 20th and leads at least one lap

  • 21st and leads the most laps


Ryan Newman

Newman is currently 81 points ahead of 13th place. Regardless of any other driver’s finish, he will clinch if he finishes:

  • 16th or better

  • 17th and leads at least one lap

  • 19th and leads the most laps


Mark Martin

Martin is currently 69 points ahead of 13th place. Regardless of any other driver’s finish, he will clinch if he finishes:

  • 12th or better

  • 14th and leads at least one lap

  • 15th and leads the most laps

 

Greg Biffle

Biffle is currently 68 points ahead of 13th place. Regardless of any other driver’s finish, he will clinch if he finishes:

  • 11th or better

  • 13th and leads at least one lap

  • 15th and leads the most laps


Matt Kenseth

Kenseth is currently 20 points ahead of 13th place. Regardless of any other driver’s finish, he will clinch if he finishes:

  • Second and leads at least one lap

  • Third and leads the most laps

Brian Vickers currently sits 13th, 17 points ahead of Kyle Busch. He would need to gain 21 points on Kenseth and stay ahead of Busch to clinch a Chase spot. Busch, 37 points behind 12th, needs to gain 17 points on Vickers and 37 points on Kenseth to clinch. David Reutimann, 132 points behind Kenseth, has an outside shot at clinching. He would have to gain 133 points on Kenseth. A maximum of 161 points can be made up in a given race.

 

The scenarios and storylines for “One Last Race to Make the Chase” are plentiful and the excitement is at an all-time high for the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway this Saturday, “under the lights.” Tickets, which start at $40, can be purchased by logging on to www.rir.com or calling 866-455-RACE (7223).

 

The weekend begins on Friday, September 11, with a full day of on-track activity, featuring the Virginia 529 College Savings 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race “under the lights.” Friday’s ticket includes practice and Fas Mart Pole Qualifying for the Chevy Rock & Roll 400, as well as practice and WRIC-TV8 Pole Qualifying for the Virginia 529 College Savings 250. Friday’s tickets are $45 (reserved) and $35 (general admission) in advance. Children 12 and under are admitted free with a ticketed adult in general admission sections on Friday only. For tickets and information, log on to www.rir.com or call 866-455-RACE (7223).

 

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