Next Eight Races, Culminating at Richmond International Raceway, Will Decide Chase Field
On the heels of Kyle Busch’s Kentucky Speedway win on “The Road to Richmond,” the 10-week stretch continues at New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend. The next eight 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 Wonderful Pistachios 400, which is “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.
Clint Bowyer can attest to how the “wild card” is affecting the standings. Although he is 12th in points, he finds himself on the outside looking in. Bowyer has zero wins on the season, while David Ragan (15th in points) has a win, putting Ragan in The Chase for the moment.
Keep an eye on these drivers for Week 3 on “The Road to Richmond”:
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Has never won at New Hampshire, but he does have the 5th-best driver rating over the past six years, with an average finish of 14.9. Right now Earnhardt Jr. is 8th in the point standings but only 21 points ahead of 11th-place Tony Stewart. Earnhardt Jr. has no wins on the season and will need to stay afloat on points if he doesn’t find Gatorade Victory Lane.
Clint Bowyer Is trying to find his way back in The Chase. As previously mentioned, Bowyer is no longer in the 12-driver field for the moment. His 12th-place points position leave him on the outside, due to Ragan’s one win for the second “wild card” spot. The good news for Bowyer is he has two New Hampshire wins and the 6th-best driver rating. Look for him to climb this week.
Tony Stewart Finds himself on this list pretty frequently, but for good reason. Stewart has the top driver rating at New Hampshire, to go along with two wins there. He’s 11th in driver points, earning him a “wild card” berth for the moment, but he has zero wins.
Brad Keselowski Is slowly but surely inching his way towards the top 20. Moving up one spot over the weekend, Keselowski is now 21st…AND he has one win this season. Moving into the top 20 would likely vault him into The Chase, since only Ragan has a win in spots 11-20.
Follow all the excitement on “The Road to Richmond,” which culminates on Saturday, September 10, for the Wonderful Pistachios 400 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.
About Richmond International Raceway: Richmond International Raceway, known as America’s Premier Short Track, offers exciting night racing action and a commitment to the fan experience. One of the most popular facilities among drivers and fans in all of motorsports, Richmond International Raceway annually hosts all of its major events-two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, two NASCAR Nationwide Series events and one NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race-under the lights on its ¾-mile D-Shaped oval. The unique layout consistently produces the thrill of side-by-side racing, coupled with high enough speeds for a superspeedway feel. Combined with first-class amenities (including the state-of-the-art Video Scoring Tower) and a focus on the fans, guests at Richmond International Raceway can expect to experience what “Racing Perfection” truly is. For tickets to events at Richmond International Raceway, call 866-455-RACE or visit www.rir.com online. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RIRInsider.