Clint Bowyer drove his No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota to victory on Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway in the Federated Auto Parts 400 closing the regular season down amid several rain delays. The race did not officially end until early Sunday morning, around 1:30am EST.
This was Bowyer’s second win of the season which, as a member of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase, allows him to keep his bonus points for those victories. But Bowyer’s win, as great as it was for him, his team, and his fans, was not the major story of the night.
Chase position 10 as well as Wild Card slots 11 and 12 were up for grabs. Tony Stewart was able to seal the deal and capture the 10th position, locking up his opportunity to utilize his hard-earned bonus points for three wins in the regular season. Kasey Kahne was a shoe-in for the 11th spot with his two wins during 2012.
The second Wild Card space was between Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon. The two battled hard and swapped the spot constantly throughout the night, but the No. 24 of Gordon’s team out-performed, maneuvered and thought out the No. 18 team of Busch’s.
Gordon actually took second behind Bowyer in Saturday night’s race. Bowyer’s teammate Mark Martin brought home third at the short track. Stewart managed a fourth place finish. Matt Kenseth ended the night in fifth.
Jeff Burton finished sixth, a decent showing for the Richard Childress Racing driver who was never battling to get into the Chase based on lackluster performance this season. Brad Keselowski was seventh. Ryan Newman, an outside favorite to make it into the Chase, finished eighth but was locked out of the big show. Greg Biffle took home ninth. Burton’s teammate Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-10.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase was finally solidified after the race at Richmond was all said and done. The 2012 Chase racers and their seeds are as follows:
1. Denny Hamlin with 4 wins. (JGR)
2. 5-Time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson with 3 wins. (HMS)
3. Defending 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart with 3 wins. (SHR)
4. Brad Keselowski with 3 wins. (PR)
5. Greg Biffle with 2 wins. (RFR)
6. Clint Bowyer with 2 wins. (MWR)
7. Dale Earnhardt Jr. with 1 win. (HMS)
8. Matt Kenseth with 1 win – the 2012 Daytona 500. (RFR)
9. Kevin Harvick with 0 wins. (RCR)
10. Martin Truex Jr. with 0 wins. (MWR)
Wild Card Spots – No Bonus Points Awarded for Wins
11. Kasey Kahne (HMS)
12. Jeff Gordon (HMS)
Only these 12 drivers are eligible to vie for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship, but a full field will be competing each week to win the races and battle for points to earn 13th-43rd spots.
The first race of the Chase will be on Sunday, September 16th at Chicagoland Speedway for the running of the GEICO 400. Coverage begins on ESPN at 1pm EST.
Please join me here for my GEICO 400 Race Recap after the race.
Candice Smith is a writer, columnist, and blogger as well as creator of the widely popular Chief 187™ Chatter. Her works have been featured under the pen name Chief 187™ around the Internet including a syndicated post within the Indie Republic Network where she has conducted in-depth interviews with musicians, Mixed Martial Artists, and other personalities as well as waxes poetic on myriad topics.
Candice Smith is currently writing her second season of her original column “Why I Love NASCAR” by Chief 187™ on Skirts and Scuffs.
Additionally, another of her NASCAR columns can be found at MotorsportsUnplugged.com. Smith also contributes articles and NASCAR Sprint Cup Race Recaps weekly at WowShaneRadio.com.
Smith began her Internet writing career at Rowdy.com where she honed her blogging skills and reawakened her love of NASCAR.
Candice Smith can be heard throughout the week co-hosting motorsports programs on Internet radio. She is the guest co-host of Motorsports Unplugged Radio with Michele Rahal, co-host of “Burning Rubber Radio” as well as creator and host of her own racing show “Drafting the Circuits” on WhooBazoo.com. “Drafting the Circuits” and “Burning Rubber Radio” are rebroadcast on Performance Motorsports Network every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
She can be reached via Twitter by following @Chief187s.
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