Winner: Kevin Harvick, driver of the ...
Winner: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #29 Goodwrench Chevrolet from Richard Childress Racing
Top-five finishers: Harvick, Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne, Dave Blaney and Mark Martin
Race recap: Kevin Harvick passed Kyle Busch with less than two laps to go to win the Nextel Cup race at Richmond on Saturday night. While the victory for Harvick was important, the main focus was on was the "Race for the Chase."
The Richmond race marked the series' 26th event and the last of the "regular season." Only the top-10 drivers in the championship standings after this race would qualify for the 10-race "playoffs."
While the top two finishers secured berths with their solid runs, Kasey Kahne entered the event outside the Chase in 11th place. He was tough all night, finished third and bumped his way in. The biggest loser was defending series champion Tony Stewart, who entered the race in eighth place overall, 45 points in front of Kahne. Stewart was not a factor in the race, finishing 18th to wind up 16 points outside the final playoff spot.
Matt Kenseth is the current points leader, entering the playoffs with a reconfigured five-point lead over second-place Jimmie Johnson. The rest of the qualifiers in the Chase for the Championship, in order, are: Harvick, Ky. Busch, Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mark Martin, Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon and Kahne.
None of last year's top-three finishers -- Stewart, Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards, respectively -- qualified for this year's post season, which starts this coming weekend at New Hampshire International Speedway.
Goodyear quote -- Phil Holmer, marketing manager, stock car racing: "The performance of our tires was outstanding, as expected, this past weekend at Richmond. One most interesting note is that the tire codes that Nextel Cup teams ended the regular season on at Richmond, are the same ones they will begin the playoffs on at New Hampshire next weekend."
Companion event: Kevin Harvick started off the weekend right, winning the NASCAR Busch Series race at Richmond on Friday night. Harvick, the clear-cut championship points leader, led 154 of 250 laps on a night that saw a whopping 14 caution flags slow down the event.