Next Nine Races, Culminating at Richmond International Raceway, Will Decide Chase Field
Following an unpredictable finish on the first stop of “The Road to Richmond,” the 10-week stretch continues at Kentucky Speedway this weekend. The next nine races will prove pivotal in deciding the field for the 2011 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, which will be finalized on Saturday, September 10, at Richmond International Raceway’s “One Last Race to Make The Chase.”
While the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup format has provided plenty of excitement since its inception in 2004, this year may be the most intense after a few new-for-2011 tweaks. The top 10 in driver point standings will earn a berth in the championship field and two “wild card” drivers will also earn a spot. The “wild card” positions go to the two drivers with the most wins who are ranked 11-20 in the point standings, which means there could be an abundance of drivers battling it out for the win “under the lights” at Richmond International Raceway.
With an unpredictable finish at Daytona last weekend, a new contender entered The Chase mix, as David Ragan took the checkered flag, positioning himself as the second “wild card” – the 12th and final qualifier for the moment. Since this marks the inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway, let’s examine some other drivers who could position themselves with a “wild card” spot.
Keep an eye on these drivers for Week 2 on “The Road to Richmond”:
Joey Logano Has tallied three NASCAR Nationwide Series wins at Kentucky Speedway, so he obviously knows what he’s doing there. Can he translate that to the Sprint Cup side this weekend? If so, he would likely be close to taking hold of the second “wild card” spot, depending on how the rest of the finishers shake out.
Paul Menard Is currently 16th in points and has no wins. But a victory this weekend would keep him ahead of Ragan in the point standings, thus giving him an edge for the second “wild card” spot. Menard has three top-fives this season.
Juan Montoya Is in better position this week, following his top-10 finish at Daytona. While he has zero wins, Montoya is only 30 points out of the 10th spot, giving him a chance to sneak in based on points. NASCAR data shows that he is just 15th best among the top 20 drivers at upcoming tracks in the Race to The Chase.
Ryan Newman Currently holds the 10th spot in the point standings, but has no wins on the season. Newman would love to get a win to further his Chase chances, but consistent top-five finishes (he has four on the season) would also benefit the former series champ. He will need to get hot, as he is 16th best among the top 20 drivers at upcoming Race to The Chase tracks.
Follow all the excitement on “The Road to Richmond,” which culminates on Saturday, September 10, for the “One Last Race to Make The Chase” at Richmond International Raceway. Tickets for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race start at $45 in advance and can be purchased online at www.rir.com or by calling 866-455-7223.
The weekend begins on Friday, September 9, for a full day of on-track activity, highlighted by the Virginia 529 College Savings 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race. Advance tickets start at $30, with children 12 and younger admitted free with a ticketed adult in general admission sections. Log on to www.rir.com or call 866-455-7223 for tickets and information.