Road To Richmond Makes Short-Track Stop at Thunder Valley
Only Bristol and Atlanta Remain Before "One Last Race To Make The Chase"
Clint Bowyer is in the precarious 12th Position Heading to Bristol
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series “Race To The Chase” is winding down with the “Road To Richmond” rolling into Thunder Valley this weekend, making a stop at Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday night. Only two races remain, Bristol and Atlanta, until the Air Guard 400, which is “One Last Race to Make the Chase” at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday night, September 11.
Only the top 12 drivers in the standings following the Air Guard 400 at America’s Premier Short Track will make the 10-race Chase and another exciting battle to make The Chase field is brewing on the “Road to Richmond.” Heading to Bristol, Clint Bowyer holds the precarious 12th spot in the standings just 35 points clear of 13th-place Mark Martin, but only 129 points separate Bowyer from 17th-place Dale Earnhardt Jr. as well.
Bowyer used a 13th-place finish at Michigan last week to move past Martin for 12th after spending a week outside the top 12 looking in. But with just a 35-point edge, Bowyer needs another strong run this weekend at Bristol, which the NASCAR statistical data shows might not necessarily be forthcoming. In nine Bristol starts, Bowyer has an average finish of 18th and a mediocre Driver Rating of 79.9. Making matters worse, Martin has two wins at Bristol an average finish of 12.9 and a Driver Rating of 89.9.
But, if either Bowyer or Martin are caught up in a classic Saturday night Bristol bang-up or struggle, there is a host of drivers still gunning for a shot at The Chase. Here is a look at the drives hoping to make it into The Chase following the Air Guard 400 at Richmond International Raceway and their stats at Bristol:
Clint Bowyer (12th): Bowyer has nine starts at Bristol with two top-five and four top-10 finishes … Bowyer’s Driver Rating is less than stellar at 79.9, and he has an average finish of 18th … Bowyer’s best finishes at Bristol were third in this race in 2007 and 2008 … He finished 40th at Bristol in March.
Mark Martin (-35): Martin has two career victories at Bristol (1993, 1998), 16 top fives and 23 top 10s in his career … His Driver Rating of 89.9 is 10th best among active drivers … He’s started from the pole nine times and has an average finish of 12.9.
Ryan Newman (-103): Newman has 17 starts at Bristol and has just one top-five finish, second in March 2004 … He had a string of three consecutive top 10s snapped in March with a 15th-place finish … Newman’s average finish at Bristol is 18.2.
Jamie McMurray (-105): McMurray has 15 starts at Bristol and an average of just 19.3 … He has one top five and three top 10s, including an eighth-place finish in March … Prior to that, McMurray hadn’t finished inside the top 10 at Bristol since March 2007.
Kasey Kahne (-126): Bristol is not one of Kahne’s strongest tracks, as he sports an average finish of 21.3 in 13 career starts … He has two top fives and four top 10s, including a fifth-place finish in this race last year … In March 2007, Kahne started from the pole and finished second.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (-129): With his Chase hopes all but fading, Earnhardt Jr. comes to one of his better tracks hoping for a strong run and some help … Jr. has one win at Bristol (2004), seven top-fives and 12 top 10s … He has the 11th-best Driver Rating (89.1) and average finish of 11.4.
With just two races remaining before “One Last Race To Make The Chase,” the Air Guard 400, at Richmond International Raceway, these drivers know they have few opportunities left to make a move and get into The Chase. Once the checkered flag flies at America’s Premier Short Track on September 11th, the field will be set for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Only those in the top 12 will be eligible for the championship over the final 10 races of the season.
NASCAR returns to Richmond International Raceway September 10-11 for one of the most anticipated race weekends of the season, highlighted by the Saturday, September 11, Air Guard 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race “under the lights.” Tickets for the Air Guard 400 start at $40 and can be purchased by clicking here or by calling 866-455-RACE (7223).
The weekend begins on Friday, September 10, with a full day of on-track activity, highlighted by the Virginia 529 College Savings 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race “under the lights.” Friday’s ticket includes Fas Mart Pole Qualifying and practice for the Sprint Cup Series, as well as WRIC-TV8 Pole Qualifying and practice for the Nationwide Series. Tickets start at $30 and can be purchased by clicking here or by calling 866-455-RACE (7223). Children 12 and under are admitted free with a ticketed adult in general admission sections on Friday only.