If you are a non NASCAR fan, but wanted to watch a race that could grip you, there are few I can count on to recommend. Sonoma, Watkins Glen, Martinsville, Talladega, and Daytona are usually good races every year. There is always one or two from the cookie cutters that stick out or one of the other short tracks, but those are the ones you can count on ever year.
However, to me there is one that sticks out above all the rest. One race that holds the drama, intrigue, and has that has a have to watch feeling. That race is Richmond in September.
The race before the Chase, that sets the field for the Sprint Cup Championship. Every year, there are a group of contenders looking to fight their way in to the Chase. Add in the fact that a short track on Saturday Night and you have the perfect storm.
And this year will not disappoint. There are eleven drivers fighting for five spots. Some are all but guaranteed some are Hail Mary cars. This is one of the bigger contender fields for the chase. So let’s look at who is fighting for a spot and how they get in.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., only has to finished 32nd and doesn’t have to lead a lap to make it in the top ten. 33rd with a lap led, and 34th with the most laps led.
Joey Logano who has come on amazingly strong in the last few races must finish 11th without leading a lap, 12th with a lap led, and 13th with the most laps led.
Greg Biffle must finish 9th to get in without leading a lap, 10th with a lap led, and 11th with the most laps led.
Kurt Busch has to win, finish 2nd with a lap led, or finish 3rd with the most laps led.
From here on out its win and you are in, but you also need some mechanical issues with the guys in front. Jeff Gordon, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Newman, can make it in with just a win. Brad Keselowski, Jamie McMurray, and Paul Menard all need major issues to the people in front and a victory to make the chase.
So how do I think the chase looks after the checkered flag? Glad you asked.
1. Kyle Busch (he’s my pick to win Saturday)
2. Matt Kenseth
3. Jimmie Johnson
4. Kevin Harvick
5. Kasey Kahne
6. Carl Edwards
7. Joey Logano
8. Clint Bowyer
9. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
10. Jeff Gordon
11. Greg Biffle
12. Martin Truex Jr.
I think Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne will make it in the Chase on points. Jeff Gordon is only six points out and Kasey Kahne 10, and both are good at Richmond. Hendrick also conducted a huge test at Richmond, and the win could come from their stable.
I believe Greg Biffle loses his spot in the top ten and grabs the Wild Card from Newman leaving the last spot to go to Truex Jr. Kurt Busch and Richmond aren’t a driver/track combo that gets along. While Kurt has had some success in with finishes, his stats say he’s going to have a long night. On top of that, the 78 team seems to have given up a little more each week.
Richmond year after year holds the most intrigue since the Chase’s inception. Who gets in, who’s left out. Will Kurt Busch try and attack a pit lane reporter? Will someone who has been waiting for payback extract to cost a team a chase birth? If you are a NASCAR fan, this is the event of the year outside of Daytona.
This year will not disappoint with all the contenders involved. Saturday Night is going to be a wild. Could I be wrong and this entire thing blows up in my face? Yeah. In a perfect world I nail my prediction for the chase, and the race will be the best of 2013. It would even be a race that will be talked about for several years to come. And while I’m not willing to go out to far on the limb with my chase predictions, I do believe one thing for sure.
When the green flag drops on Saturday Night, all hell is going to break loose in Richmond.
In random news:
Jeff Burton officially announced today he will not return to the 31 for the 2014 season. That’s not really a surprise to me as this had been coming for a while. The 31 team had not been nearly as strong as the 29 and not as strong as the 27 even. That is saying something with them being weaker than the 27, and there are only so many crew chief changes you can make before it’s the driver. Reasons being sighted are financial. Currently, Burton has no plans and is weighing all options for 2014.
Bobby Labonte will be ready to race at Chicago. It’s unknown what car he’ll be in. He still has a deal with the 47, but who knows anymore?
Tony Stewart was involved in a press conference Tuesday, where he let it be known he will be back at the track this Saturday chasing people on a scooter. Right now nothing is concrete for next year as far as a return to driving, but Tony is saying the hope is to be ready to go by Speed Weeks 2014. While Tony heals, Mark Martin is expecting to test for the SHR.
Time Warner Cable has added races to its schedule to the 5 for the next two seasons, and will sponsor Dale Earnhardt Jr., for five of his unsponsored races this season. By my count that leaves one race left for Dale Jr., in Phoenix. I expect the National Guard will get a discount, or Hendrick Cars will get that race. It’d be perfect for a new sponsor but that new sponsor was suppose to be announced last month, so who knows.
Sauber has released Robin Frijns has a reserved driver next season.
Daniel Ricciardo is officially the second fiddle to Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull Racing.
Random Sports/Non Sports Thought:
After watching Ace Ventura last night, I’m bringing this back: Spank you, spank you very much.
Have a question, suggestion or witty comment? Feel free to leave one below! Don’t want to do that? Then the fastest, easiest, and quickest way to interact with me is on Twitter, @tpierc07. I also am on Facebook, but that one you have to work for. Don’t do social media? Then feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
So until we meet again just know, I’ll be waiting for you at the next left turn, in the wreckage that will be Richmond International Speedway