If you want drama, tune into the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway. It’s the final race until the Chase and the two drivers battling for the final position, Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch, will be fighting tooth and nail right from the drop of the green flag.
I lied, they won’t be fighting from the drop of the green flag; they already started today in qualifying. Kurt Busch, currently 10th in points, had the pole position locked up after tying the track record that Matt Kenseth set in April by running a 130.334 MPH lap. Then Jeff Gordon, currently 11th in points, ran a lap of 130.599 MPH to steal the pole position away. The two drivers competing for the final transfer spot will start one-two on the grid Saturday night.
For Busch, he sits just six points ahead of Gordon in the final spot. The way it works, the top 10 drivers in the standings get locked in based on points and then the 11th and 12th drivers consist of the winningest drivers between 11th and 20th in the final points standings. If the race were to end right now, they’ll say that a lot Saturday night, Busch would be in on points and Gordon would be out since he hasn’t won a race in 2013.
If that made sense to you, keep on reading. If not, check out this break down by USA Today Sports.
Kurt Busch can immediately change his game plan for the night by leading the first lap. If Busch leads a lap, all he’ll have to do is finish second and he’ll be locked into the Chase no matter how the other drivers fare. If he leads the most laps, but fails to win the race, third place will be good enough to get him in.
If you’re Jeff Gordon, it’s a “win or go home” kind of night. A win will essentially lock him into a Wild Card spot, but if he fails to win, a little bit of help can get him in, as well. With Kurt Busch starting right along side of him, he’ll have a pretty good feel for where his biggest competitor is.
Gordon has been in this position before. In fact, one year ago, he found himself in a similar situation and ended up making the Chase. Many believe that Gordon will get the job done. While it seems like a long shot, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Gordon made his way into the Chase by winning the race.
One thing is for sure, Saturday night is going to be one heck of a show. There are 10 drivers that are still in contention to make it into the Chase. Sparks will fly and, who knows, maybe a few fists will by flying once the smoke clears. It’s going to be wild.