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NASCAR Richmond Preview — plus Blake and Moon’s Picks

Saturday Night’s Alright

            Previewing the Federated Auto Parts 400 by Blake Smith and Moon Mullins

As the Elton John song says, Saturday night’s alright for fighting and we are guaranteed to see some fighting on Saturday night in Richmond. Six drivers have clinched a spot in the Chase for the Championship which means four positions are available for the taking, not including the wild card.This week, we will take a look at the headlines from the past week and preview the final race of the “regular season.”

Johnsons welcome new addition on Friday

Jimmie Johnson and wife, Chandra welcomed a new baby girl into the world on Friday morning. She was born Friday, Sept. 6, at 2:02am/ET at a Charlotte, NC, hospital. She weighed 5 pounds, 10 ounces and was 19 inches long at birth. Big sister Genevieve Marie, 3, is said to be very proud of her new baby sister. Mother and baby and are doing fine and are expected to remain in the hospital overnight.

Johnson will miss today’s activities at Richmond as Regan Smith fills the seat in the #48. Johnson will be in the car for Saturday night’s race.

Danica WINS!

After boyfriend, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. set the pace in qualifying; Danica thought she needed to get in the limelight with a win. Danica beat out three other athletes on the Food Network Series “Chopped” on Tuesday.  Danica is no rookie in the kitchen though as she has taken culinary classes at the Culinary Institute of America. As the winner, Danica chose the COPD Foundation for her $10,000 winning donation. Moon says, “She can fry my steak anytime”.!

Montoya Visits Furniture Row

The general manager of the #78 team, Joe Garone confirmed that their Denver, CO. based racing shop had a visit from Juan Pablo Montoya on Tuesday. Montoya is on the short list of drivers to fill the #78 seat in 2014.

Burton out of the #31 after ‘13

After a push to find financial funding for a fourth team for 2014, Jeff Burton announced he will not be returning to the #31 Chevrolet after this season.  “We have been working hard to try and get all the funding in place to have four Sprint Cup teams in 2014,” said Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing.

“With the date on the calendar getting closer to 2014, we just couldn’t run partially funded teams next year. Knowing what Jeff’s plans were in 2015, he and I worked out an agreement for him to step out of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet after this season. Jeff has been nothing but a professional driver, an asset to RCR and a great person for our organization since coming on board in 2005. Jeff has also been a great ambassador for Caterpillar and the other partners we’ve had on the car throughout the years. I can’t thank him and Caterpillar enough for how great they’ve been as we work through this transition. We intend to finish out 2013 in a strong way and I look forward to the possibility of Jeff still being part of RCR in the near future, just not driving the #31 car. I have been watching his son, Harrison, and the success he’s having. Hopefully, we can have another Burton in one of our cars someday.”

It is expected that Burton could become the driver of a potential satellite team for Childress.

 Time Warner Cable to sponsor #88 and increases sponsorship of the #5

Time Warner Cable Inc. will be the primary sponsor in more NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races after broadening its relationship with Hendrick Motorsports. The expanded partnership makes Time Warner Cable primary sponsor of the #5 Chevrolet SS team with driver Kasey Kahne for six races in 2013 and five races in both 2014 and 2015. Previously, Time Warner Cable committed to sponsor four primary events per season from 2013 through 2015.
In addition, Time Warner Cable will be a primary sponsor of the #88 Hendrick Motorsports team with driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. for five events in 2013, including four during the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The #88 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet SS will appear Sept. 7 at Richmond, Sept. 15 at Chicago, Sept. 22 at New Hampshire, Oct. 6 at Kansas, and Oct. 12 at Charlotte.

Labonte to miss Richmond race, plans to return at Chicagoland

Bobby Labonte will not race the #47 BUSH’S Beans Toyota Camry this weekend at Richmond International Raceway after suffering three broken ribs in a cycling accident week.  “I am feeling a lot better, but I don’t want to put the race team in any compromising position this weekend,”said Labonte. ”It just makes more sense to focus on my rehab one more week to ensure that I’m ready to go at Chicago with no issues. I plan to be back with the team then and back behind the wheel.” AJ Allmendinger is filling in for Labonte during the Federated Auto Parts 400 in Richmond.

Richmond Preview

Saturday night will mark the 115th Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway. Lee Petty won the inaugural race at the track in 1953. The fall race at Richmond gained more “face  value” beginning in 2004 as it became the final cut off before the Chase for the Championship.

Today is a busy day for the Sprint Cup Series garage as they will participate in their only 2 practice sessions of the weekend within a 3 ½ hour period before this evening’s qualifying session. Even though teams will be practicing during the day, they still have their notes from the Spring race to fall back on to set up for Saturday night’s race under the lights.

Chase Clinch Scenarios

Six drivers have clinched top-10 spots in the Chase: #48-Jimmie Johnson, #15-Clint Bowyer, #29-Kevin Harvick, #99-Carl Edwards, #18-Kyle Busch and #20-Matt Kenseth. #5-Kasey Kahne, on the strength of two wins, has clinched at least a Wild Card spot. According to NASCAR, here are the clinch scenarios for the following drivers, regardless of the rest of the field’s finishing position:

#88-Dale Earnhardt Jr., currently seventh in points, will clinch a top-10 spot with a finish of 32nd or better, 33rd with at least one lap led or 34th with the most laps led.
#22-Joey Logano, currently eighth in points, will clinch a top-10 spot with a finish of 11th or better, 12th and at least one lap led or 13th and the most laps led.
#16-Greg Biffle, currently ninth in points, will clinch a top-10 spot with a finish of ninth or better, 10th and at least one lap led or 11th and the most laps led.
#78-Kurt Busch, currently 10th in points, will clinch a top-10 spot by winning, finishing second with at least one lap led or finishing third with the most laps led.

The remaining mathematically eligible drivers need help to clinch a top-10 spot. Some, however, control their own Wild Card destiny (a win would guarantee at least a Wild Card spot). Clinch scenarios for the remaining eligible drivers are as follows:
#24-Jeff Gordon: Currently 11th in points, Gordon would clinch at least a Wild Card spot with a victory at Richmond. Gordon, currently six points outside the top 10, remains eligible for a top 10 spot.
#5-Kasey Kahne: Kahne, currently 12th in points, has already clinched at least a Wild Card spot. Ten points outside the top 10, Kahne remains eligible for a top 10 spot.
#56-Martin Truex Jr.: Currently 13th in points, Truex would clinch at least a Wild Card spot with a victory at Richmond. Fifteen points outside the top 10, Truex remains eligible for a top 10 spot. Truex, currently holding the provisional No. 2 Wild Card spot, could clinch a Wild Card spot without a victory.
#39-Ryan Newman: Currently 14th in points, Newman would clinch at least a Wild Card spot with a victory at Richmond. Twenty points outside the top 10, Newman remains eligible for a top 10 spot. Newman could clinch a Wild Card spot without a win (Logano and Biffle must remain in the top 10 or be replaced by Kahne; Newman must out-point Truex by six points; Gordon must not win; and Brad Keselowski or Jamie McMurray cannot win and overtake Newman).
#2-Brad Keselowski: Currently 28 points outside the top 10, Keselowski remains eligible for a top-10 spot. Currently winless, Keselowski must win to be in contention for a Wild Card spot. Mathematically there will be at least two drivers outside the top 10 with wins. To clinch, Keselowski would need to win and outpoint Truex by 13 and Newman by eight (and would only need to outpoint one of these drivers if Kahne would displace a winless driver from the top 10). If Truex or Newman displaces Kurt Busch from the top 10, he would need to outpoint the other one-win driver remaining outside the top 10 by the requisite amount.
#1-Jamie McMurray: Currently 39 points outside the top 10, McMurray remains eligible for a top-10 spot. Currently winless, McMurray must win to be in contention for a Wild Card spot. To clinch, McMurray would need to win and outpoint either Truex by 25 and Newman by 19 (and would only need to outpoint one of these drivers if Kahne would displace a winless driver from the top 10). If Truex or Newman displace Kurt Busch from the top 10, he would need to outpoint the other one-win driver remaining outside the top 10 by the requisite amount.
#27-Paul Menard: To clinch, Menard would need to win and outpoint Truex by 47 and Newman by 42 (and would only need to outpoint one of these drivers if Kahne would displace a winless driver from the top 10). If Truex or Newman displace Kurt Busch from the top 10, he would need to outpoint the other one-win driver remaining outside the top 10 by the requisite amount. (NASCAR)(9-3-2013)

Blake’s Pick:

A veteran who sets 11th in points and still thick in contention for the Chase is Jeff Gordon. A win on Saturday night would clinch his spot in the Chase with at least a wild card position. My pick for tomorrow night is the #24!

Getty Images\by Sean Gardner

 

Moon’s Pick

After Danica’s culinary victory, I think she will continue her winning ways on Saturday night with a win at Richmond! If she does, Blake, a steak and wine’s on me!

 

Getty Images\Jerry Markland

Saturday’s coverage of the Federated Auto Parts 400 begins at 5:30 PM on WBKR and WBKR.com!

 

 

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