The 26-race NASCAR Sprint Cup regular season that began with the Daytona 500 way back in February concludes Saturday night with the running of the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway.
Built on the Virginia State Fairgrounds property, RIR hosted its first NASCAR Sprint Cup race way back in 1953, when the track was flat and the surface was dirt.
The D-shaped, 0.75-mile oval is a favorite of fans and drivers alike, as it features tight, fast racing and lots of action all night long.
For the Blue Oval Boys, the Richmond scenarios couldn’t be any clearer: Win.
Sprint Cup points leader Greg Biffle and third-place Matt Kenseth are locked into the Chase for the Sprint Cup, which will begin the following week at Chicagoland Speedway.
After the checkered flag falls at Richmond, the top 10 drivers in the Sprint Cup point standings will have their points reset: The 10 Chase drivers will start the Chase with 2,000 points and three bonus points for each race victory during NASCAR’s regular season.
No driver currently has more than four victories; Biffle has two right now and Kenseth has one, so both will try to add to their respective victory totals at RIR and snag the last three available bonus points.
In addition to the top 10 in points, the two drivers in positions 11-20 with the most race victories will become the Chase wild cards. The two wild-card drivers also will start the Chase with 2,000 points, but they do not get bonus points.
Kasey Kahne is 11th in points, the only driver with two race victories who is in the second 10 in points. Barring an extraordinary and virtually implausible set of circumstances, Kahne will be in the Chase.
Five other drivers in the 11-20 range have one victory each, including Marcos Ambrose, driver of the No. 9 DeWalt Ford Fusion. If Ambrose wins at Richmond on Saturday night, he’s in the Chase unless 10th-place Tony Stewart falls out of the top 10 and 12th-place Kyle Busch moves into the top 10 while finishing second or worse in the race -- a highly unlikely combination of events.
For Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Ford Fastenal Fusion, the challenge is more daunting. Unless Edwards wins at Richmond, he won’t make the Chase, period. If he does win and leads the most laps, Edwards will get in if Kyle Busch finishes 23rd or worse and doesn’t lead a lap, Jeff Gordon finishes 11th or worse and doesn’t lead a lap, AND Stewart stays in the top 10 in points.
Edwards is certainly up for the challenge, especially after nearly winning in the spring race at RIR.
“We ran top-five both races last year and this track, the first time I came here was 2004 in the Cup car, or 2005,” said Edwards. “We ran great and it was a blast. We had a super-fast car and finished sixth and I thought, ‘Man, this is going to be my favorite race track.’ Then for the next four or five years, it was terrible for us. Now we are back to where we think we can win each time we come to Richmond. That is good.”
Source; Ford Racing