NASCAR was faced with a very tough decision this past weekend...how to deal with a team that deliberately manipulated the chase outcome to benefit themselves? Four days later and race fans are still in an uproar over the biggest controversy to rock the motorsports world since the infamous "Crashgate" incident during the 2008 Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix.
There was a lot on the line at Richmond Saturday night but was it so much so that it would actually push a team to deliberately alter the outcome in order to benefit themselves? When you're talking about a shot at the Sprint Cup championship; I'd say so.
Carl Edwards picks up his second win of the season in the Federated Auto Part 400 at Richmond International Raceway. He credited the win to his pit crew saying, “That’s my pit crew that won this race for us, just an awesome job by them.” The No. 99 team took four tires and still managed to get off pit road second to Paul Menard who took two in an effort to get track position.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is in what is arguably his best season in several years. Currently seventh in points and is all but locked in to the Chase. He has 14 top-10’s and five top-5’s. The question is -Is it good enough?
Since the first season of NASCAR’s Chase format, the last race of the “regular season” has been and at the three-quarter mile short track at Richmond International Raceway. Richmond has provided several fantastic finishes that made some drivers’ seasons a success and left others licking their wounds as they came to the realization that they were not eligible for a series championship.
Three night races are all that remain before the 2013 chase field is set. The sand in the hour glass is running out and the time to make something happen is now. The tension in the garage is palpable and the intense feeling of trepidation among the teams in the danger zone is growing with every passing race.
There are just ten races remaining before NASCAR enters it’s “playoff” season – the Chase for the Championship. After race No. 26, drivers that are in the top-10 in points are locked in and they are the drivers that are eligible to win the championship.
As we enter race No.4 of the 2012 Chase, a definite separation in the points standings has become apparent. The front-runners, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, and Denny Hamlin are hoping to make it through NASCAR's "wildcard" race unscathed.
No DNF’s, 99.9% laps completed (only missed five laps of 8,231), 2 wins, 10 top fives, 15 top tens, 14 weeks atop the points standings. These numbers indicate a spectacular season, and one that many Sprint Cup drivers would love to have. However, even with all this success, Greg Biffle, who has struggled in the Chase, with finishes of 13th, 18th, 16th, is now focusing on trying finish in the top 5 in the season standings.