NASCAR News - Week of September 5th
Last week's NASCAR race at Atlanta Motor Speedway was the second to last race before the start of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. There were still three spots up for grabs heading into the race. Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, Ryan Newman and Kyle Busch were all looking to come out with victory to improve their chances of making the playoff. Neither Tony Stewart or Kasey Kahne were able to finish in the top 20 in the standings at Atlanta, but their performances were still good enough to lock up a spot in the chase.
Ryan Newman and Carl Edwards were both looking to come away with a victory in Atlanta to improve their slim chances of making the Chase for the Sprint Cup. A crash late in the race took out both Newman and Carl Edwards along with Jimmy Johnson. This crash forced both Newman and Edwards to finish over 60 laps behind the leader, and essentially ended any chance they had at making the chase.
Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch both had amazing cars at Atlanta Motor Speedway last week, and a victory by either driver would have essentially locked them in the chase. Both drivers would spend the majority of the race near the front of the standings, but neither driver would be able to top Denny Hamlin. Busch led 66 laps in Atlanta, but his car faded late and he was only able to finish in 6th place. While Jeff Gordon only led six laps in the race, he had one of the best cars n the track. Gordon would spend the final laps trying to catch Hamlin, but would ultimately be unsuccessful. The 2nd place finish was great for Gordon, but not what he was hoping to achieve.
The Federated Auto Parts 400 will be held this week in Richmond and is the last race of the season before the start of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. With one more spot in the chase up for grabs, it is essentially Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch fighting for the last spot. Kyle Busch is a former member of the Hendrick racing team, where he was mentored by Jeff Gordon. Gordon and Busch are two most successful NASCAR drivers at Richmond, so the battle for the final chase spot should come to the final lap of the race.
Kyle Busch currently holds the 12th and final chase spot and is 12 points ahead of Jeff Gordon in the season standings. If either Kyle Busch or Jeff Gordon win this week's race at Richmond, then they will automatically lock up the final chase spot. If neither driver is able to win the race, then it will come down to the driver that has the most points in the season. This means that Gordon would have to make up 12 points on Busch at the race this week. This seems like an highly unlikely option for Gordon due to the fact that Kyle Busch was an average finish of 4.5 in his career at Richmond. Both of these drivers are going to extra aggressive, which means we are about to see the most exciting race of the season to date.