With only two more positions to be filled, and one race remaining, Saturday’s race at Richmond International Raceway held the promise of a no holds barred, fight to the finish. Instead it delivered an uneventful event but a dominant fourth win by Brad Keselowski who led 383 out of 400 laps. His fourth win also puts him atop the Chase Grid.
Keselowski was thrilled saying, “What a night! Part of me, I pulled into victory lane and I pinched myself once to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. These are nights you don’t forget as a driver, and you live for. The Miller Lite Ford Fusion was just flying, and this is, I couldn’t ask for a better way to enter the Chase than to win and take the first seed.”
Greg Biffle held on with a 19th place finish to make the Chase by seven points and is seeded 15th on the Chase Grid. Ryan Newman finished ninth to secure the 16th spot.
The points have been reset and all of the 16 drivers in the Chase Grid begin with 2000 points. Three additional bonus points are given for each win during the 26 race regular season.
Keselowski is first with 2012 points. Positions second through fifth are held by the drivers who earned three victories each during the regular season accumulating 2009 points each. Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Joey Logano are in positions second through fifth, respectively.
Jeff Gordon finished second at Richmond but is excited to begin the Chase.
“This team is on fire, and we just can’t wait to get it all started,” he said. “It’s been a heck of a year. Our fans and the way that they’ve embraced this season has been extremely motivating, and I know how proud they are. And we’re proud of the effort and the results that we’re getting this year. Ten more weeks that we’ve got to get it done, and this team is ready to do that.”
Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick, with two wins and 2006 points each, are sixth and seventh.
The drivers with one win during the regular season begin the Chase with 2003 points. Positions eighth through 13th, in order, are held by Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne, Aric Almirola, and AJ Allmendinger.
Matt Kenseth, with zero wins and 2000 points is in the 14th spot and is joined by Greg Biffle (15th) and Ryan Newman (16th), also with 2000 points each to complete the Chase Grid.
Next week on September 14, the series travels to Chicagoland, the first of three races in the Challenger Round. Then it’s on to New Hampshire on September 21 and the final race in this round which is at Dover on September 28.
The Challenger Round – 3 Races/16 Drivers: At the end of the Challenger Round, the top 12 drivers will advance to the Contender Round. Win a race in the Challenger Round and you automatically advance to the Contender Round. The remaining top 12 drivers will be set by points. All drivers who advance will then have their points total reset to 3000 for the Contender Round.
The Contender Round – 3 Races/12 Drivers (Kansas, Charlotte, Talladega): At the end of the Contender Round, the top eight drivers will advance to the Eliminator Round. Win a race in the Contender Round and you automatically advance to the Eliminator Round. The remaining top eight drivers will be set by points. All drivers who advance will then have their points total reset to 4000.
The Eliminator Round – 3 Races/8 Drivers (Martinsville, Texas, Phoenix): At the end of the Eliminator Round, the top four drivers will advance to the final Championship Round. Win a race in the Eliminator Round and you automatically advance to the Championship Round. The remaining top four drivers will be set by points. All drivers who advance will then have their points total reset to 5000.
The Sprint Cup Championship – 1 Race/4 Drivers: The final race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway will determine the new champion. The first to cross the finish line of the remaining four eligible drivers will be the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion.