MISSION: NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE All that stands between Brian Vickers and the Chase for the Sprint Cup is (deep breath) stars and planets aligning, 191 points, a victory at Richmond, leading a lap, leading the most laps, Clint Bowyer, David Ragan and...
MISSION: NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE
All that stands between Brian Vickers and the Chase for the Sprint Cup is (deep breath) stars and planets aligning, 191 points, a victory at Richmond, leading a lap, leading the most laps, Clint Bowyer, David Ragan and Kasey Kahne opting for a weekend off and most likely a Tropical Storm named Hanna.
Mathematically, Brian and the No. 83 team are still racing to the Chase, but it's the longest of long shots. Brian, in 15th place, is 190 points out of 12th. He'll make the Chase only if the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota dominates Saturday night, wins, gains the 195-point maximum and the hauler drivers for Bowyer, Ragan and Kahne somehow forget the way to Virginia's capital city.
Realistically, there is still plenty to race for. After November's season finale at Homestead, the highest-finishing non-Chase driver earns $1 million and a seat on stage at the postseason awards banquet. Brian also is battling for a career-best finish in points. He was 15th in 2006.
"We need to respect the fact that those guys are racing for a championship, but we're there to win the race," he said. "We'll go for broke, go for wins. But we don't want to completely forget about points. We'd love to get to that 13th spot."
Brian holds the Richmond qualifying record - spring or fall - with a lap of 129.983 mph (May 14, 2004). His best finish of eighth came one night later.
THE 84'S SAFE - FOR NOW
AJ Allmendinger is 3-for-3 in qualifying at Richmond, and he's guaranteed to go 4-for-4 after a solid California finish moved the No. 84 up five spots to 31st in the car owner standings.
But by no means does AJ think he's safe. A mere 24 points separate 31st to 35th.
"We're in the top 35 in points, and that's what matters," said AJ, who finished 14th Sunday night. "But there's still plenty of work to do because we can fall out just like that, and then it's back to the same old thing in qualifying."
The No. 84 also is the sixth-ranked Toyota, for now locking AJ into the season-opening Shootout at Daytona.
SWEET SMELL OF ASPHALT
Red Bull's Scott Speed gets back to what he knows best - four asphalt races and a road- course event to close the ARCA RE/MAX Series season. He carries a 75-point lead over Ricky Stenhouse Jr. into Saturday's race at Chicagoland (6 p.m. ET).
"We will never, ever be as bad as we were on dirt and we still finished in the top 10 both times," Scott said. He finished eighth in ARCA's two dirt track races, including Labor Day in Springfield, Ill.
"On any asphalt track, even on a really, really bad day heck, we had a bad day at Cayuga, went five laps down and still finished fifth. If we don't wreck or break, we should have no problem winning this championship. The emphasis is on the team to prepare everything right. We don't need to make any aggressive moves. Put the car together and make sure nothing falls off. I'm sure we'll have a top-five car wherever we go."
In Eddie Sharp Racing's No. 2 Red Bull Toyota, Scott tested at Chicago on Aug. 17, led the morning session (176.759 mph) was second to Stenhouse overall.
His next NASCAR Craftsman Truck race doesn't come until Sept. 20 at Las Vegas.
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