Richmond Race: Exciting And Controversial (Part 1)
Saturday night’s race in Richmond, Virginia was the 26th race of the year and the final “race for the chase.” NASCAR uses the points acquired in the first 26 races to set the field for the final ten races that will decide the champion.
The top ten in points are locked into racing’s playoff, so to speak, with two wildcard positions left. Drivers from 11th to 20th in points battle for the final two spots to contend for the championship. Of them, the two wildcard spots are determined by wins. If two drivers have the same amount of wins then the position goes to the driver with the most second place finishes and so on.
After Saturday nights’ race, the field is now set for the final ten races. Several drivers were locked in before the race even started, but the battle for the wildcard spots came right down to the final laps. And like almost every sporting event, it had its share of excitement and controversy.
The drivers who were in a tight race for the final two spots in the top ten, as well as the two wildcard positions, are as follows:
Last year’s champion Brad Keselowski, who had not won a race so far this year, needed to win the race to make it into the chase. He had a dominant car and led most of the race. But a late caution ruined his chances and he wound up finishing 17th.
Jeff Gordon, who also recorded no wins so far this year, needed a win or finish in the tenth position to make the chase. In order for that to happen, he needed a good finish and Joey Logano needed a bad finish. Gordon had some trouble and became two laps down midway of the race.
Joey Logano, who had one win this year, was not having a good night. He became two laps down early and was not able to recover. He was running in the 25th position and Gordon who was able to recover from his misfortune, broke into the top ten late in the race.
This would put him in the chase and bump Logano out momentarily. Again, the late caution mixed things up and Logano was able get one of his laps back, and on the restart passed three cars to gain three positions on the track, giving him the extra points to pass Gordon in the standings and knocking Gordon out of the chase by one point.
Ryan Newman was also battling for the chase and needed a win to qualify. With ten laps to go, he passed Carl Edwards (who is locked into the chase) for the lead and was pulling away. With five laps to go, Clint Bowyer (who is also locked into the chase) spun and brought out the fifth and final caution. Newman entered the pits for tires along with other drivers, but he took four tires while the others took only two. This put Newman restarting in fifth position. Ultimately, he was only able to pass two cars and ended up finishing third in the race, giving Martin Truex Jr., who had one win so far this year, the final wildcard spot.
In a race that was exciting, and with a few controversial moments, the field is now set. In part two, I will cover the controversies and give the top twelve in the points for the final ten races that will determine this year’s champion.
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