NASCAR: Played War In Atlanta, Going to Play Crazy Eights in Richmond



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By: DJ DeSpain

Last Sunday night in Atlanta, a version of War was played like no one has ever seen, and as a result Denny Hamlin was the only driver to clinch a fourth spot in the Chase. Hamlin joined Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, and Jimmie Johnson as the top 4 drivers that are guaranteed Chase spots.

Now it will be a brand new game this Saturday night in Richmond! NASCAR will have its own version of Crazy Eights, where eleven drivers will battle it out to fill the eight remaining spots in the top twelve positions.

Why so crazy? Only 105 points separate the 5th to 13th positions, and spots 14 and 15 still have a mathematical chance of getting into the top 12. This is the tightest the Race to the Chase has ever been just before Richmond since the Chase format began in 2004, and even then 238 points was the spread from 5th to 13th.

Matt Kenseth is on the bubble in the 12th spot, and he is the only driver today that has been in every Chase race since 2004. In fact, a lot of people point to Kenseth as being the reason the Chase format began because of his consistent 2003 run that rewarded him with the Championship trophy, despite only having 1 win that season. On Saturday night, he will have to finish 3rd and lead the most laps to guarantee a Chase spot regardless of how the other drivers finish. Unfortunately, he wonít have an easy go of it because Richmond is not one of his best tracks, with an average finish since 2005 of 16.7, and in the spring race he managed to finish 13th.

Kyle Bush, on the other hand, loves Richmond. Out of the 9 races that Kyle has run there, he has 7 top five finishes, including his 1 win at this yearís spring race. His overall average finish is 6.1, the second best finish of any other active driver except Tony Stewart, who has an overall average of 5.7 at Richmond. †If he can do a sweep, not only will he easily clinch his spot for the Chase, but also be bumped to the top of the Chase order with 5 wins.

Regarding the other nine drivers, they have to do the following to clinch their spot:

  • Carl Edwards – 24th or better, 25th and lead a lap, 27th and lead most laps
  • Kasey Kahne – 21st or better, 23rd and lead a lap, 24th and lead most laps
  • Kurt Busch – 20th or better, 22nd and lead a lap, 24th and lead most laps
  • Juan Pablo Montoya – 18th or better, 20th and lead a lap, 21st and lead most laps
  • Ryan Newman – 16th or better, 17th and lead a lap, 19th and lead most laps
  • Mark Martin -12th or better, 14th and lead a lap, 15th and lead most laps
  • Greg Biffle – 11th or better, 13th and lead a lap, 15th and lead most laps
  • Brian Vickers – gain 21 points on Kenseth and stay ahead of Busch
  • David Reutimann – gain 133 points on Kenseth

Letís hope for some good weather at Richmond Saturday night, or the only Crazy Eights these guys will be playing will involve a deck of cards instead of their cars.

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