Richmond II: News of note

In addition to series title, drivers vying for extra-lucrative 11th place 11th-place battle also set to be spotlighted ... In what amounts to a "championship within a championship," drivers also have another lofty goal to compete for, during...

In addition to series title, drivers vying for extra-lucrative 11th place

11th-place battle also set to be spotlighted ... In what amounts to a "championship within a championship," drivers also have another lofty goal to compete for, during the season's last 10 races post-Richmond. The 11th-place finisher in the season-ending point standings will receive a point-fund payout of approximately $970,000, a total that will include a $250,000 bonus. That will amount to an approximate $400,000 increase from what the 11th-place finisher received last season. In addition, the 11th-place finisher will be honored at the annual awards ceremony, set for December 3 at the Waldorf=Astoria in New York City.

Point-fund plateaus represent serious incentives ... The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion will receive approximately $5.28 million from the point fund, a record champion's award. In addition to that payout and the 11th-place money, it's also worth noting that 20th place will pay approximately $432,000 and 25th place -- the final point-fund slot -- will be worth approximately $180,000.

Another convert: McMurray latest driver to do "about face" on new format ... Jamie McMurray (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge) is 11th in points going into Richmond, only 25 behind Mark Martin, and 449 behind points leader Jimmie Johnson. Like other drivers who opposed the new Chase for NASCAR NEXTEL Cup format at the season's outset, he has altered his stance. "You know, I was one of the vocal drivers at the beginning of the season that did not like the [Chase]," McMurray said. "But I must admit, it's been exciting to see all the coverage that those of us trying to get into the top 10 have been receiving by the media over the last few weeks. It's great for our sponsors, and I think it's created a lot of buzz for NASCAR. Usually this time in the season is when there are a handful of drivers that are competing for the championship and there's not much media focus. I think overall the new [format] has been good for all involved."

Just the stats ... Brian Vickers (No. 25 GMAC Chevrolet) holds the Richmond track qualifying record, 129.983 mph from this past May. Dale Jarrett has the track's race-speed record, averaging 109.047 mph in September 1997. ... Vickers pole came in his first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race at Richmond; he went on to finish eighth. ... There has been a different Bud Pole winner in each of the last 10 Richmond races. ... Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge) leads active drivers in Richmond victories, with six. Tony Stewart and Terry Labonte (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet) are tied for second among active drivers with three RIR victories. Jarrett has two.

Manufacturers' Championship update: Ford closes slightly ... Elliott Sadler's victory at California Speedway gave Ford its eighth triumph of the season and helped boost Ford's point total to 158, in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Manufacturers' Championship standings. Chevrolet still leads with 181 points (15 victories). Dodge is third with 136 points.

QUOTABLE

"This week, after all our meetings at the shop, I am going to go buy my tuxedo while I'm in Richmond because I'm back at home, get all 'fitted up' so I can look all nice and snazzy and just think about how exciting it is going to be, going to New York in December." -- Elliott Sadler, who's already excited about appearing on stage at the season-ending NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Awards Ceremony, December 3 at the Waldorf=Astoria.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Richmond International Raceway has a "rich" history to say the least, making it a most appropriate place to finalize the first-ever "Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup" lineup. There have been 96 NASCAR premier series races at Richmond since 1953 -- two each season since 1960.

There were nine races, including three Convertible Division events, held at Richmond from 1953-1959. There have been 32 races at Richmond since the track was changed from a half-mile to a three-quarters-mile in the fall of 1988.

Richmond International Raceway actually began holding auto racing events in 1946, starting out as a half-mile dirt track. The speedway was paved in 1968. It was a half-mile asphalt track for 20 years; after Neil Bonnett won the 1988 Pontiac Excitement 400, Richard Petty climbed aboard a bulldozer and in a ceremonial move began digging up the old racing surface to begin construction on the new three-quarters-mile configuration.

Fast Facts

What: Chevy Rock & Roll 400 (Race No. 26 of the 36-race NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season.)

Where: Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.

When: Saturday, Sept. 11, 7:30 p.m. (ET).

TV: TNT, 7 p.m. (ET).

Radio: MRN/XM Satellite.

-nascar-

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