The Richmond International Raceway lays claim to the final race of the Sprint Cup Series regular season and is the gateway to the ten race battle for the Sprint Cup championship. Thus, we find ourselves wondering if former champions Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch or Jeff Gordon will be racing for a title when the final lap is completed at Richmond. First we will break down the wild card standings and then discuss who will be the proud owners of the final two wildcard spots, and who will get in on points alone.
8th: Joey Logano 729
9th: Greg Biffle 727 (-2)
10th: Kurt Busch719 (-8)
11th: Jeff Gordon 713 (-16)
12th: Kasey Kahne 709 (-20)
13th: Martin Truex Jr 704 (-25)
14th: Ryan Newman 699 (-30)
15th: Brad Keselowski 690 (-39)
Kasey Kahne is already guaranteed a spot in the chase with his two wins. I am putting Kahne as one of the two wildcard spots as I do not believe he will have a good enough run to earn himself a top 10 points standings position. Kahne had a mediocre run earlier this year at Richmond and Kahne has not shown any strength on the similar flat tracks. He will lose out on the bonus points that accompany wins for drivers in the top 10.
The most unrealistic chance for a driver to break into the top 10 is Brad Keselowski. He presently needs the most help as he is in the worst possible shape with zero wins and sits 15th in points, being nearly 20 points out of 10th. Keselowski had a pretty lackluster performance in the spring Richmond race, finishing 33rd. However, Keselowski has notched top 5’s at Phoenix and Loudon this year. Still, I am writing Keselowski off as I believe he has too big of a gap to close and unfortunately for him, we will be crowning a new champion this year.
The final race will see drivers racing hard to get in, but I believe that Joey Logano has enough momentum to propel him to a good finish at Richmond. Jeff Gordon helped his chances significantly by winning the pole for Saturday night’s race. Gordon also has experience in barely making it into the chase as he barely beat out Kyle Busch last year after rallying from a lap down. Jeff Gordon will not win tomorrow night, but he will finish good enough, entering the top 10 and making it in on points.
My prediction for the final spots
10th: Kurt Busch
11th: Kasey Kahne (WC 2 Win)
12th: Greg Biffle (WC 1 win)
Kurt Busch will have another top 5 showing and just miss out on his first win of the season, but have just enough points to be the last chase driver. I can see Greg Biffle faltering as he has never been a consistently good driver at Richmond. Biffle will still make it in as the last wildcard spot and the most deserving driver in my opinion, Martin Truex Jr. will be the first driver to miss out on the chase.
Regardless of how the points shake out, we are almost guaranteed to see a fantastic race full of plenty of storylines when the checkered flag finally waves. We may very well see Kurt Busch break into the win column if they do not have car failure and there is a good chance one of the chase contenders will be taken out early on in this race. Richmond is the perfect spot to build up hype for the ten race chase for the championship!