RICHMOND, VA - SEPTEMBER 08: Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour Energy Toyota, celebrates with crew members after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 8, 2012 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)

NASCAR At Richmond 2012: Jeff Gordon Takes Final Chase Spot As Clint Bowyer Wins

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NASCAR Richmond Results 2012: Poor Strategy Costs Kyle Busch Chase Spot

Walking through the darkness of the Richmond International Raceway garage, Dave Rogers was a lonely man.

Minutes after Kyle Busch had missed NASCAR's Chase due to a strategical mistake by his crew chief, Rogers was just beginning to come to grips with what had happened.

"I did a terrible job of doing my job today," Rogers said, referring to a gamble that, in hindsight, cost Busch a shot at this season's championship.

RESULTS: Get the recap and finishing order of Saturday night's Richmond race here.

It was a stunning turnaround that all happened within about an hour. During a 51-minute red flag near the halfway point of the race, Busch and his No. 18 team were in complete control of NASCAR's second and final wild card spot.

The situation looked dire for all the other drivers, including Jeff Gordon – who wasn't on the lead lap. No one was close to taking the playoff position away from Busch.

But when the race resumed, Rogers noticed the radar filling with blue and green again. It was 12:30 a.m., and he figured another delay would force NASCAR to call the race.

So when the caution flew for rain, he told Busch to stay out.

"I looked at the clock, saw how late it was and figured if we lost the racetrack, then NASCAR wouldn't go back green," Rogers said. "It was hard to call – and I called it wrong. I just did a bad job."

Meanwhile, Busch's competitors did pit – and NASCAR didn't call the race. When it resumed, the No. 18 car dropped anchor and plummeted back through the field. Suddenly, Gordon was dashing toward the lead and Busch was the one who was lapped.

It was a costly, costly decision for Rogers and his team. Busch had no idea if he made the Chase or not when he crossed the finish line, but Rogers was quick to deliver the bad news: He came up three points – three positions on the track – short of the playoffs.

"We missed it," Rogers said over the team radio. "I blew it, bud. My fault."

Once Rogers arrived at the hauler, he went into the lounge area where Busch was changing into street clothes. The two didn't talk, he said, but simply nodded at one another.

"Both of us are hurting, but we didn't say much," Rogers said. "Kyle did a good job of keeping his composure and took it on the chin like a man and went back to his (motorhome)."

Rogers, though, wasn't in a hurry to go anywhere. He met with team owner Joe Gibbs for nearly 40 minutes inside the transporter before emerging to explain more about his decision.

He offered no excuses for the call.

"(Qualifying for) the Chase is more than one race, but we certainly were in position to capitalize and make it," he said. "But I blew it. There's no two ways to look at it. I evaluate myself as hard as I evaluate my guys, and I gave one up today."

As Rogers spoke, it was almost as if he was still letting the words sink in. He congratulated Gordon's team for grabbing the final spot and said he failed all 450 Joe Gibbs Racing employees, along with the driver and sponsor M&M's.

"I feel like I let them down," he said. "That hurts."

In truth, there were plenty of other reasons why Busch didn't make the Chase. It would be easy to find many instances where the driver lost three positions over 26 races – the No. 18 car's multiple blown engines being a good place to start.

So when Gibbs emerged after talking with Rogers, the Hall of Fame football coach said he had full support for the crew chief he called "one of the brightest and the best."

"We love Dave Rogers," Gibbs said. "... We were there (in the hauler), sharing the moment together. We were in this together, and I think we have a great, tight-knit team here. If we have a tough night, we all have a tough night together."

But unfortunately for Rogers, Busch and the No. 18 team, they all missed the Chase together, too.

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NASCAR Richmond Results 2012: Jeff Gordon Mounts Stunning Rally To Make Chase

For the eighth time in nine years, Jeff Gordon is in NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup.

And all he had to do to qualify for the playoffs on Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway was stage an improbable comeback from being a lap down and find a way to race his way back to the front to finish second while edging Kyle Busch for the final wild card spot by a mere three points.

In other words, it was just how he planned it.

"Went from last week being the most disappointed I've ever been to finish second to the most excited I've ever been to finish second," Gordon said. "... It was amazing. I still can't believe we actually did it."

Earlier in the evening, Gordon's Chase hopes looked like they simply weren't meant to be. Starting second, he quickly dropped back through the field due to an ill-handling Chevrolet – eventually falling a lap behind the leaders.

But with the same attitude and resolve that allowed his No. 24 team to overcome countless hurdles throughout the 2012, Gordon rallied. Crew chief Alan Gustafson diagnosed and solved the handling issues which plagued the car, while Gordon deftly picked his way through traffic.

"We just flat-out missed the setup at the beginning," Gordon said. "Luckily, Alan and the engineers got together and found the tools that we could utilize to make the car better. The biggest thing is that rear bar; we just had to get rid of it. We did that. We cut the chain. Our car really started coming to us right then. We finally got some drive-off."

Now, Gordon is somewhat miraculously in the Chase and competing for his fifth series championship – an idea which seemed preposterous at various points throughout the season.

"You can look at this race," Gordon said. "All the things that have gone for us this year, everything went right for us tonight. ... I know how proud Rick (Hendrick) is to have all four teams into this Chase. That was a big goal of ours. Pretty amazing to know we accomplished that."

Adding another layer to what was a remarkable evening was that even as Gordon was staging his comeback, his team never clued him in as to where he was running points-wise. Gordon was under the impression that he still had more work to do – even as he was running third with 10 laps to go.

"I didn't know what position we were in," Gordon said. "I didn't know what was going on. I knew that it looked like some guys were staying out because of how slow they were running. Alan got pretty animated when he said, ‘You got to get the 55, you have to get the 55,' and there were 10 to go.

"I kind of had an idea that that would get us in, but he didn't ever say it."

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NASCAR Richmond Results: Carl Edwards Misses 2012 Chase

Carl Edwards entered Saturday night's Richmond NASCAR race knowing several things had to go right in order for him to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Ultimately, Edwards never had the speed to contend and spent the majority of the race a lap down before finishing with a 17th-place result.

Edwards conceded that one race didn't mean the difference between making or missing the Chase, but rather a collection of problems throughout the season. The team dug an early hole it just couldn't get out of.

"It's about 26 races and we just let too many points get away for a bunch of different reasons," Edwards said. "There was a lot of luck involved and everyone tried really hard. This is the fastest we have been the last six weeks all year and I am proud of everyone for rallying around Chad (Norris, current crew chief) and Bob (Osborne, former crew chief) included for making the best effort we could."

With his championship hopes dashed, Edwards plans to turn his attention toward the final 10 races and what he can do to help Roush Fenway Racing teammates Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle win the championship.

"(My role) is to be the best teammate I can be and to help them develop any setups they can and help them during practice" Edwards said. "There isn't much I can do on the racetrack once the race starts, but before the race starts I can help."

Missing the Chase has to be considered a major disappointment for the team that finished second in last season's championship and entered this year as the preseason favorite. So with 10 races remaining in the 2012 season, Edwards is already looking forward to next year.

"We will just go try to build the best team we can for next year and try to make sure a Ford wins this championship."

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NASCAR Chase Seedings: Standings For 2012 Sprint Cup Series Playoffs

Greg Biffle ended NASCAR's regular season – the first 26 races – as the Sprint Cup Series points leader.

But as the checkered flag waved on Saturday night – er, Sunday morning – at Richmond International Raceway, NASCAR re-seeded the top 12 drivers and put Biffle in fifth.

The new points leader is Denny Hamlin, who has 2012 points thanks to his four wins – each worth three points apiece. Drivers are seeded by wins first, then second-place finishes, third-place finishes and so on.

Here's a look at the 2012 Chase standings heading into the final 10 races:

  1. Denny Hamlin
  2. Jimmie Johnson -3
  3. Tony Stewart -3
  4. Brad Keselowski -3
  5. Greg Biffle -6
  6. Clint Bowyer -6
  7. Dale Earnhardt Jr. -9
  8. Matt Kenseth -9
  9. Kevin Harvick -12
  10. Martin Truex Jr. -12
  11. Kasey Kahne -12
  12. Jeff Gordon -12

And here are the point standings before the Chase field was re-seeded:

  1. Greg Biffle
  2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. -12
  3. Matt Kenseth -17
  4. Jimmie Johnson -34
  5. Brad Keselowski -46
  6. Martin Truex Jr. -52
  7. Clint Bowyer -56
  8. Denny Hamlin -64
  9. Kevin Harvick -73
  10. Tony Stewart -104
  11. Kasey Kahne -130
  12. Jeff Gordon -137
  13. Kyle Busch -140 (missed Chase by three points)
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NASCAR Richmond Results: Clint Bowyer Wins As Jeff Gordon Makes 2012 Chase

Clint Bowyer had a gulp of gas just big enough to win the race. Rick Hendrick had Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon as a pair of Chasers.

In a rain-interrupted race of accumulating tension, Bowyer made it to the finish line 1.198 seconds ahead of Gordon, who knocked Kyle Busch out of the final wild-card spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup in the closing laps of Saturday night's Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway.

The victory was Bowyer's second of the season, his second at Richmond and the seventh of his career. He and teammate Martin Truex Jr. are the first two Michael Waltrip Racing drivers to make the 12-driver Chase field.

MWR teammate Mark Martin ran third Saturday, followed by Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth, but the big story was Gordon's miracle comeback that put all four Hendrick Motorsports cars in the Chase. Gordon joined Kahne, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in NASCAR's 10-race playoff.

For Busch, it was a failed pit strategy that led to his ouster from the second wild-card spot, a position he held entering the race and for the vast majority of Saturday night's event. When a light rain caused the sixth caution on Lap 275, Busch stayed out while others came to pit road for fuel. A slow pit stop under green on Lap 334, thanks to a dropped lug nut on the right-rear wheel, did further damage to his chances and allowed Gordon to sneak into the Chase by a three-point margin.

Several times in the last 11 laps, the second provisional wild-card spot changed hands between Gordon and Busch, who entered the race with a 12-point lead over Gordon. When Busch passed Martin Truex Jr. for the 15th position on Lap 390 of 400, he had the berth. When Gordon passed Mark Martin on Lap 394, he took it back.

Ultimately, Busch dropped positions to Marcos Ambrose and Hendrick driver and pole-sitter Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was on a late-race mission to help his teammate make the Chase.

"We missed," Busch said tersely after the race was over. "Plain and simple."

Team owner Joe Gibbs advised his mercurial driver to handle his disappointment the right way.

"There's no right way to handle this situation," was Busch's rejoinder.

Gordon started second but quickly faded. By the time rain halted the race on Lap 152, he was a lap down and going nowhere. Under the caution that preceded the red flag, however, his crew cut the chain to the rear sway bar to disconnect it, and the handling of the No. 24 Chevrolet improved dramatically.

"I felt like I won the race tonight," Gordon said. "When that was over, when they told me I was in the Chase, we made it -- I mean, I was ecstatic. I was going nuts. To me, after you have that kind of effort, fall back, then come up there and finish second, almost win the race, make it by (three points), man, I don't see any reason why we can't go over these next 10 races and be a real threat for the championship."

Bowyer recovered from a spin just past the midpoint of the race and rallied for the win. On Lap 234, contact with Juan Pablo Montoya's Chevrolet deflated Bowyer's left-rear tire. Fighting for control, Bowyer looped his car near the start/finish line.

"Thank you, Juan Pablo, for wrecking me and then winning me the race--thank you!" quipped Bowyer, who was then in position to gamble on fuel mileage. "We had a bad race last weekend (at Atlanta) and had a lot of adversity we had to bounce through, were kind of bummed out as a team, as a whole, coming into this race.

"It's a good way to get things bounced back headed into this Chase. You can't ask for a better race team, my teammates, MWR, everybody that's a part of this. It's just unbelievable."

The consolation for Joe Gibbs Racing is that Denny Hamlin begins the Chase as the No. 1 seed on the strength of four victories in the first 26 races. But that provides little solace for Busch's crew chief Dave Rogers, who made the decision to keep his driver on the track when a pit stop would have been the safe play.

"We missed it -- my fault," Rogers radioed to Busch. "One hundred percent my fault."

Here are the results from Saturday night's race at Richmond:

1. (4) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 400, $226,114.
2. (2) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 400, $203,546.
3. (6) Mark Martin, Toyota, 400, $128,785.
4. (28) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 400, $174,685.
5. (17) Matt Kenseth, Ford, 400, $152,221.
6. (20) Jeff Burton, Chevrolet, 400, $135,335.
7. (10) Brad Keselowski, Dodge, 400, $125,530.
8. (14) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 400, $126,218.
9. (23) Greg Biffle, Ford, 400, $93,885.
10. (13) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 400, $135,096.
11. (11) Sam Hornish Jr., Dodge, 400, $122,210.
12. (21) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 399, $89,035.
13. (5) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 399, $122,296.
14. (1) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 399, $92,435.
15. (22) Marcos Ambrose, Ford, 399, $106,593.
16. (15) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 399, $120,118.
17. (16) Carl Edwards, Ford, 399, $119,301.
18. (7) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 399, $122,951.
19. (12) Landon Cassill, Toyota, 399, $102,880.
20. (24) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 399, $107,476.
21. (9) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 399, $103,174.
22. (26) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 398, $106,693.
23. (25) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 398, $83,385.
24. (3) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 398, $101,293.
25. (29) Bobby Labonte, Toyota, 397, $99,568.
26. (18) Aric Almirola, Ford, 397, $111,571.
27. (32) Travis Kvapil, Toyota, 397, $96,568.
28. (30) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 396, $93,843.
29. (42) Casey Mears, Ford, 396, $83,507.
30. (8) Joey Logano, Toyota, 396, $83,335.
31. (35) David Gilliland, Ford, 395, $73,210.
32. (27) David Ragan, Ford, 395, $70,560.
33. (33) Dave Blaney, Chevrolet, 395, $70,435.
34. (37) David Reutimann, Chevrolet, 393, $70,310.
35. (39) Ken Schrader, Ford, 393, $78,160.
36. (36) Stephen Leicht, Chevrolet, 390, $79,510.
37. (31) David Stremme, Chevrolet, Brakes, 127, $69,880.
38. (34) Joe Nemechek, Toyota, Brakes, 90, $69,728.
39. (38) Scott Riggs, Chevrolet, Brakes, 78, $66,900.
40. (40) Mike Bliss, Toyota, Wheel Bearing, 70, $66,775.
41. (19) Michael McDowell, Ford, Brakes, 63, $66,625.
42. (41) Josh Wise, Ford, Brakes, 57, $66,500.
43. (43) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, Power Steering, 57, $66,860.

RACE STATISTICS

Average Speed of Race Winner: 100.019 mph.
Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 59 Mins, 58 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 1.198 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 6 for 41 laps.
Lead Changes: 17 among 10 drivers.
Lap Leaders: D. Earnhardt Jr. 1-6; J. Gordon 7-8; D. Earnhardt Jr. 9-47; M. McDowell 48; D. Earnhardt Jr. 49-58; D. Hamlin 59-84; D. Earnhardt Jr. 85-93; D. Hamlin 94-155; D. Earnhardt Jr. 156-158; D. Hamlin 159-231; J. Johnson 232-233; D. Hamlin 234-241; M. Truex Jr. 242-248; D. Hamlin 249-281; K. Kahne 282-284; T. Stewart 285-299; R. Newman 300-312; C. Bowyer 313-400.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): D. Hamlin 5 times for 202 laps; C. Bowyer 1 time for 88 laps; D. Earnhardt Jr. 5 times for 67 laps; T. Stewart 1 time for 15 laps; R. Newman 1 time for 13 laps; M. Truex Jr. 1 time for 7 laps; K. Kahne 1 time for 3 laps; J. Johnson 1 time for 2 laps; J. Gordon 1 time for 2 laps; M. McDowell 1 time for 1 lap.
Top 12 in Points: G. Biffle - 914; D. Earnhardt Jr. - 902; M. Kenseth - 897; J. Johnson - 880; B. Keselowski - 868; M. Truex Jr. - 862; C. Bowyer - 858; D. Hamlin - 850; K. Harvick - 841; T. Stewart - 810; K. Kahne - 784; J. Gordon - 777.

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NASCAR Richmond Race Start Time Delayed By Rain

If you were hoping to tune in at 7:30 p.m. Eastern to see the NASCAR Richmond race on ABC, you might be disappointed.

Heavy rain associated with a cold front sweeping across the East Coast on Saturday evening has delayed the start of the final Sprint Cup Series race before the Chase begins – the Federated Auto Parts 400 – and it's unclear if the weather will move out in time for NASCAR to race tonight.

Driver introductions have been delayed indefinitely, and NASCAR has said it is in a "hold situation" at the current time.

If the race is postponed, it will air at 1 p.m. Sunday on ESPN. The weather is expected to be better all day on Sunday, but NASCAR would prefer to race tonight and and not go head-to-head against the NFL's opening day.

The only other rainout this season was the Daytona 500, which was moved to a Monday night in February.

UPDATE: NASCAR is planning to have drivers fire their engines at 9:15 p.m. Eastern tonight.

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NASCAR At Richmond 2012: TV Viewer's Guide For Chase Cutoff Race

Once the Richmond NASCAR race finally starts (it's going to be delayed by rain for awhile before it airs on ABC), here's some storylines and favorites to watch in tonight's race:

Storylines

Gordon vs. Busch, Busch vs. Gordon

There are numerous scenarios which involve various drivers sneaking into the Chase. Essentially, though, tonight boils down to Kyle Busch vs. Jeff Gordon. The final wild card spot will likely be claimed by one of these two and each is well aware that they control their own destiny.

After his lack of aggressiveness cost him a potential win last week at Atlanta, Gordon is intent on making sure he has no regrets when he leaves Richmond. This strategy entails Gordon starting near the front – he qualified second – trying to lead as many laps as possible and putting himself in position where he can contend for the victory in the closing laps.

For Busch, his game plan is far more conservative. He enters this evening knowing that as long as Gordon doesn't win and he doesn't finish too far behind the No. 24 car, he'll be one of the 12 drivers competing for the championship. However, there is such a thing as being too conservative, and that is something Busch needs to be mindful of tonight.

Carl Edwards Needs A Miracle

As he said himself, Carl Edwards needs an "insane" race to unfold if he is to miraculously make the Chase. This means both Gordon and Busch need something bad to happen to them which has each finishing far down the running order. At the same time, Edwards needs to go out and win – something he has yet to do this year.

And to that end, the Roush Fenway Racing driver is fully capable of doing so, as he led over half the laps here in the spring and would have likely gone to Victory Lane if it weren't for a late-race penalty for jumping a restart. But again, even if Edwards wins, he still needs help – and lots of it.

The Quest For More Bonus Points

As eight drivers compete for what is basically one playoff spot, those who have secured a Chase berth are competing for something else: Bonus points. Those three bonus points that are awarded for each regular season win are pivotal and ultimately could prove the difference between winning and losing the championship (see: Edwards, Carl). Furthermore, with nothing to lose, those already in the Chase can go all-out tonight in their quest to win and not have to worry about the ramifications of a poor finish.

Worth Noting

• Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s pole-winning run on Friday marked the first time he has ever won a pole on a short track.

• Tonight Ken Schrader will make his 750th career Sprint Cup start tonight, while Travis Kvapil will make career start No. 200.

• Despite having been reconfigured and expanded from its initial layout, Richmond has been hosting NASCAR's top series since 1953 – making it the second-oldest track on the Cup schedule, trailing only Martinsville.

Favorites

1. Kyle Busch

To say Kyle Busch is good at Richmond would be a gross understatement, as he has won four of the last seven races and owns a sizzling average finish of 4.7. And as noted above, the only potential handicap against picking Busch is he doesn't have to win tonight and might be content to play it safe and finish somewhere in the top 10.

2. Carl Edwards

The same chassis Carl Edwards dominated with at Richmond in the spring will be the same car he wheels tonight. In theory, this suggests he should again be up front and in contention like just as he was in May.

3. Jeff Gordon

This is a Game 7 moment for Jeff Gordon, where anything he can do to score the win is what he must do. Knowing this, expect the four-time champ to be aggressive and pull out all the stops to save his season, all in a desperate attempt to qualify for the Chase.

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NASCAR Richmond International Raceway Weather Forecast: Severe Thunderstorm Watch Until 10pm

The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm watch for south central and eastern Virginia until 10 p.m. EDT, which includes Richmond International Raceway.

Richmond_severe_storm_watch_medium

A watch means conditions are favorable for the development of severe weather in and around the watch area. If storms form and turn severe, then the National Weather Service will issues a severe thunderstorm warning for that particular storm or line of storms. A warning means severe weather is present and individuals should seek safe shelter. The frequency for NOAA Weather Radio at Richmond International Raceway is 162.475

NASCAR RICHMOND RADAR

The forecast has not changed since my last update and I still anticipate storms arriving between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. There is also a lot more rain behind the initial wave of scattered showers and storms. Once the rain arrives I really don't see it clearing out until at least midnight. The more I watch the radar and forecast models, the less I'm convinced we get the race in tonight.

If NASCAR decides to postpone the race until Sunday, the weather forecast is perfect. Lots of sunshine, cooler temperatures with highs near 80 and less humidity. NASCAR has said the race will start at 1 p.m. Sunday if it is postponed and it will be televised on ESPN.

Follow me on Twitter @NASCAR_WXMAN and like me on Facebook for the latest weather updates, because things could change quickly.

Conditions in Richmond, VA: Click here for Current Weather ConditionsLook at Doppler Radar | Mobile Friendly Site | Mobile Radar

SATURDAY
4:30 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Series Pre-race – Possible shower or thunderstorm – temp: 84
5:30 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Series Pre-race – Possible shower or thunderstorm – temp: 85
6:30 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Series Pre-race – Possible shower or thunderstorm – temp: 84
7:30 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Series Race – Possible shower or thunderstorm – temp: 81
8:30 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Series Race – Possible shower or thunderstorm – temp: 77
9:30 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Series Race – Possible shower or thunderstorm – temp: 72
10:30 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Series Race – Mostly cloudy, Chc. showers or thunderstorm – temp: 70
11:30 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Series Race – Mostly cloudy, Chc. showers or thunderstorm – temp: 70
12:30 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Series Race – Mostly cloudy, Chc. showers or thunderstorm – temp: 68

SUNDAY
Mostly sunny, cooler and less humid – High: 80

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NASCAR At Richmond 2012: Start Time, Lineup, TV/Radio Schedule

It's NASCAR race night at Richmond International Raceway, and we've got the actual race start time, the starting lineup and some other facts about Saturday's race for you below.

What time does the race start? Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is tentatively expected to give the command to fire engines tonight at 7:38 p.m. ET. After a few pace laps, drivers are scheduled to take the green flag at 7:44 p.m. However, there's a good chance of rain in the area around the start time of the race, so it may be delayed or even postponed. Keep checking back here for more information.

Race name/distance: The Federated Auto Parts 400 is a 400-lap race around the 3/4-mile Richmond International Raceway. That means the actual race distance is 300 miles. This is the final race before NASCAR's playoff field is set.

TV and radio: The race can be seen on ABC. Unfortunately, there is no live streaming of the race – but you can listen on the Motor Racing Network's website (just click the red link). You can also check MRN's site for a list of affiliate stations in your area.

*** NOTE: If you're out and about tonight and can't watch the race, make sure to follow me (@jeff_gluck) on Twitter. I'll be tweeting updates about the event. ***

National anthem: The 29th Division Band from the Virginia Army National Guard will perform the national anthem tonight. That should be a fitting start to the evening.

Tickets: Richmond is not a sellout, so you're safe to take a chance on finding tickets at the gate if you want to make a last-minute trip.

Weather: The unofficial NASCAR weatherman, Brian Neudorff, says rain will almost certainly delay the race or even postpone it. Make sure to follow Neudorff on Twitter – he's @nascar_wxman – for more information.

Last time: In the spring, Kyle Busch earned his only victory this season – the one which has him clinging to a Chase wild card spot – helped in part by a restart penalty on one-time leader Carl Edwards. And at the Chase cutoff race one year ago, Kevin Harvick went to Victory Lane after a suspicious spin by teammate Paul Menard brought out a late caution.

Starting lineup for Saturday's NASCAR race at Richmond International Raceway:

  1. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  2. Jeff Gordon
  3. Regan Smith
  4. Clint Bowyer
  5. Jimmie Johnson
  6. Mark Martin
  7. Denny Hamlin
  8. Joey Logano
  9. Martin Truex Jr.
  10. Brad Keselowski
  11. Sam Hornish Jr.
  12. Landon Cassill
  13. Kevin Harvick
  14. Ryan Newman
  15. Kyle Busch
  16. Carl Edwards
  17. Matt Kenseth
  18. Aric Almirola
  19. Michael McDowell
  20. Jeff Burton
  21. Kasey Kahne
  22. Marcos Ambrose
  23. Greg Biffle
  24. Juan Pablo Montoya
  25. Paul Menard
  26. Jamie McMurray
  27. David Ragan
  28. Tony Stewart
  29. Bobby Labonte
  30. Kurt Busch
  31. David Stremme
  32. Travis Kvapil
  33. Dave Blaney
  34. David Gilliland
  35. Joe Nemechek
  36. Stephen Leicht
  37. David Reutimann
  38. Scott Riggs
  39. Ken Schrader
  40. Mike Bliss
  41. Josh Wise
  42. Casey Mears
  43. Reed Sorenson
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NASCAR Richmond International Raceway Weather Forecast: It Will Rain, But Do We Race?

It's not a question of "if" it will rain but a question of "when" and "for how long" for tonight's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway.

Richmond_nascar_race_day_weather_forecast_medium

The first half of the day will be partly sunny, very warm and humid with afternoon high temperatures expected to reach near 90. A strong cold front will push across Virginia during the day, bringing with it showers and storms. It is expected to arrive in Richmond from 4-8 p.m. with a line of strong storms and showers. This is obviously a problem, because the NASCAR race is scheduled for 7:44 p.m. EDT.

In my previous weather forecast on Friday, I gave racing tonight a 10 percent likelihood. But based on new information, I'm going to increase the likelihood of NASCAR racing tonight to 30-40 percent. Although the chance are still low, there are a couple of scenarios that could allow for racing.

If the storms arrive early enough – say between 4-7 p.m – and there are a narrow line of showers and storms that move through quickly, NASCAR and Richmond International Speedway could dry the track in about 60 minutes and be racing by 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. ET. This is the best case scenario, but I am still convinced that it will be raining when NASCAR was planning to drop the green flag for the Federated Auto Parts 400.

Radar_forecast_rir_medium

The image above is just one of the computer models I like to look at when putting together a forecast. This is from Friday night for 8 p.m. tonight. I've marked Richmond on the map and as you can see, it has the main line of storms to the east of Richmond and the track, but lighter more scattered showers remain behind around the city of Richmond

Radar_forecast_rir_01_medium

Here is another model for the same time 8 p.m. tonight. Both of these models have been consistent keeping rain near or over Richmond around the time the race is scheduled to start.

Satslightrisk02_medium

As if the worry of rain delaying or even postponing Saturday's NASCAR race wasn't enough, the Storm Prediction Center continues to have Richmond International Speedway as a slight risk for severe weather. The main threat with the line of storms expected later in the day and evening is gusty, damaging winds. Lightning would also be a big concern with all those fans out camping and tailgating before the start of the race.

Do we race? My gut is telling me that it will be very difficult to get this race in, but it's possible. A lot has to go NASCAR's way in order for us to see racing: The rain and storms have to arrive as early as possible (between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.) and clear out quickly, giving crews plenty of time to dry the track with no more rain to follow.

The other question is if the rain clears out and they get the track dried by 10 p.m. or 11 p.m., would NASCAR still race that late? It's a tough call, so follow me on Twitter @NASCAR_WXMAN and like me on Facebook for the latest weather updates, because things could change quickly.

If the race is postponed until Sunday, the weather forecast is perfect. Lots of sunshine, cooler temperatures with highs near 80 and less humidity. Although not certain, in the past if a night race was moved to the next day NASCAR typically started it around noon or 1 p.m.

Conditions in Richmond, VA: Click here for Current Weather ConditionsLook at Doppler Radar | Mobile Friendly Site | Mobile Radar

SATURDAY
4:30 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Series Pre-race – Possible shower or thunderstorm – temp: 84
5:30 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Series Pre-race – Possible shower or thunderstorm – temp: 85
6:30 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Series Pre-race – Possible shower or thunderstorm – temp: 84
7:30 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Series Race – Possible shower or thunderstorm – temp: 81
8:30 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Series Race – Possible shower or thunderstorm – temp: 77
9:30 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Series Race – Possible shower or thunderstorm – temp: 72
10:30 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Series Race – Mostly cloudy, Chc. showers or thunderstorm – temp: 70
11:30 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Series Race – Mostly cloudy, Chc. showers or thunderstorm – temp: 70
12:30 p.m. EDT
Sprint Cup Series Race – Mostly cloudy, Chc. showers or thunderstorm – temp: 68

SUNDAY
Mostly sunny, cooler and less humid – High: 80

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NASCAR Nationwide Series At Richmond: No Hard Feelings For Ryan Blaney, Darrell Wallace Jr.

Ryan Blaney and Darrell Wallace Jr. raced hard in Friday night's NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Richmond, the two young drivers slamming doors and banging fenders as they battled for position in the top 10.

Many drivers would have gotten out of their cars after the race and confronted one another after the race. Others would have yelled or pointed fingers or expressed their displeasure over the contact.

So what did Blaney and Wallace do after their disagreement? They shook hands on pit road – twice – and laughed about their duel.

Wallace said Blaney got loose and knocked him up the track, but he wasn't mad about it at all.

"I don't know if he's pissed at me, but I love that kid," Wallace said with a smile as he waited for Blaney to finish an interview. "He's like a brother to me. We know how to run each other hard and clean. We get into each other, but we come out shaking hands. That's what racing is all about. That was fun."

Blaney had a different version of events and said Wallace came down across his nose while he was trying to make a pass. That prompted him to give Wallace a bump in return.

"I wasn't going to take it," Blaney said, calmly.

But was he mad? Nah. Blaney called it "fair-game short-track racing" and said there were no ill feelings.

"It's hard to do anything when he's laying on my door getting into the corner," Blaney said. "But it was good racing with him, and good we both came out (in the top 10)."

Blaney, driving Penske Racing's No. 22 car, finished ninth. Wallace, driving Joe Gibbs Racing's No. 20 car, was 10th.

Both drivers are part of NASCAR's "Next 9" – a group of nine up-and-coming racers – and have high expectations for their future.

"Tenth for me feels like a 20th or 30th," Wallace grumbled.

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NASCAR Richmond Results 2012: Kevin Harvick Wins Nationwide Series Race

Assuming the lead on a late restart in Friday night's Virginia 529 College Savings 250 at Richmond International Raceway, Kevin Harvick ended a 30-race NASCAR Nationwide Series drought dating to the fall race at Richmond in 2010.

Harvick beat Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to the finish line by 1.944 seconds to win for the fifth time at the .75-mile short track and for the 38th time in the series, tying Carl Edwards for third on the all-time victory list.

Kurt Busch ran third, followed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Annett.

Busch lost the lead on Lap 226 after he tapped the rear bumper of Dexter Stacey, causing Stacey to spin off Turn 4. Harvick nosed ahead as Busch avoided the spinning car and had the lead when NASCAR threw the seventh caution on Lap 227.

Harvick pulled away after the ensuing restart on Lap 234, with Stenhouse taking second from Busch.

The championship battle took a sudden turn on Lap 186, with Stenhouse and Elliott Sadler racing side-by-side through Turn 3 and 4. Sadler, on the inside during a sustained fight for the second position that already had lasted seven laps, broke loose beneath Stenhouse and backed his Chevrolet into the outside wall, crushing the rear deck.

Sadler lost a lap and restarted 28th on Lap 193. He rallied to finish 12th and retained the championship lead by one point over Stenhouse, the defending champion.

Sam Hornish Jr.'s waning championship hopes suffered a serious blow on Lap 156. Maneuvering to avoid the No. 51 Chevrolet of Ty Dillon, Hornish took a shot from the No. 22 Dodge of his Penske Racing teammate Ryan Blaney.

After cutting his left-rear tire, Hornish spun into the outside wall in Turn 1 and slid back down the track into the path of the No. 41 Ford of Timmy Hill. The collision tore the rear deck off Hornish's car and scattered debris through Turns 1 and 2.

NASCAR red-flagged the race for four minutes to clean the track, and when the field restarted on Lap 164, Harvick assumed his customary position at the front of the pack, before Busch took a turn at the point.

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NASCAR Richmond Starting Lineup 2012: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Wins Pole Position

NASCAR's most popular driver will lead the start of one of NASCAR's biggest races.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the pole position for the Richmond Chase cutoff race on Friday afternoon, and he'll start up front in Saturday night's race – his P1 in qualifying since the 2011 Daytona 500.

Earnhardt Jr. was the only driver to top 127 mph (127.023), and he'll start on the front row alongside Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon – who has much more at stake on Saturday night.

Gordon must either win the race or finish ahead of Kyle Busch in the regular season point standings while hoping another one-win driver doesn't get the final Chase wild card spot with a victory.

"It's really Kyle's to lose," Gordon said. "For us, we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. ... I'm just thankful we've performed as well as we have the last couple weeks to give ourselves a shot."

Regan Smith, Clint Bowyer and Hendrick's Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top five. Busch will start 15th, which will put a bit more pressure on the Joe Gibbs Racing driver.

JJ Yeley and Mark Green failed to qualify for Saturday's race.

Here is the starting lineup for Saturday night's NASCAR Chase cutoff race at Richmond International Raceway:

  1. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  2. Jeff Gordon
  3. Regan Smith
  4. Clint Bowyer
  5. Jimmie Johnson
  6. Mark Martin
  7. Denny Hamlin
  8. Joey Logano
  9. Martin Truex Jr.
  10. Brad Keselowski
  11. Sam Hornish Jr.
  12. Landon Cassill
  13. Kevin Harvick
  14. Ryan Newman
  15. Kyle Busch
  16. Carl Edwards
  17. Matt Kenseth
  18. Aric Almirola
  19. Michael McDowell
  20. Jeff Burton
  21. Kasey Kahne
  22. Marcos Ambrose
  23. Greg Biffle
  24. Juan Pablo Montoya
  25. Paul Menard
  26. Jamie McMurray
  27. David Ragan
  28. Tony Stewart
  29. Bobby Labonte
  30. Kurt Busch
  31. David Stremme
  32. Travis Kvapil
  33. Dave Blaney
  34. David Gilliland
  35. Joe Nemechek
  36. Stephen Leicht
  37. David Reutimann
  38. Scott Riggs
  39. Ken Schrader
  40. Mike Bliss
  41. Josh Wise
  42. Casey Mears
  43. Reed Sorenson
DNQ: JJ Yeley, Mark Green
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NASCAR's Technical Bulletin Has Richmond Garage Talking

Depending on who you talk to around Richmond International Raceway this weekend, NASCAR's technical bulletin regarding the rear suspension rules are either a big deal or won't have much of an impact at all.

For example: Jimmie Johnson, whose Hendrick Motorsports team has been most often using the rear-end setups to great success, said there will be "no change" to what his cars are doing when the bulletin goes into effect next weekend at Chicago.

Martin Truex Jr., though, said Johnson was "stretching the truth a little bit."

"We all know they were doing something," Truex said, "but I don't think it's just the bushings (parts covered in the tech bulletin) that were doing it."

The official word from NASCAR is the bulletin "doesn't change any rules we've already had," Sprint Cup Series director John Darby told the NASCAR Wire Service.

"It reconfirms how far teams can go with their rear suspension setups," he said. "Teams have found that, with a car's rear-axle steer, more is better as it helps with aero and gets the cars through the corners faster."

The bottom line is that rear-axle steering improves the aerodynamic properties of the Cup cars and allows them to turn more easily through the corners. The bulletin specifies a quarter-inch of travel in one direction only, and the assemblies in question must move freely through that quarter-inch of travel (as opposed to locking in position, for example).

Those areas can now be looked at during post-race inspection, whereas they apparently were not before.

"We are just reminding the teams what the limitations are and that they cannot go past these limitations," Darby said.

Brad Keselowski, who had been outspoken about what Hendrick was doing with the rear ends of their cars, compared the technical bulletin to the NBA clarifying how it enforces a traveling call.

"You can make a rule saying traveling is illegal, but it's how it's enforced that really matters," he said. "If it's not (enforced) on LeBron and is on everyone else, it makes for a different game. I think the real challenge is how things are enforced and not what's written down on paper."

But as Keselowski noted, it's "way too early to say" if one car lost an advantage or another car gained one. Whatever happens, it could determine how much speed the top cars possess – and it could change the complexion of the Chase.

"It's something that's got to play out," he said, "but it certainly has my attention."

– Material from the NASCAR Wire Service was used in this story

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NASCAR At Richmond 2012: Jimmie Johnson Confident About Championship Hopes

Jimmie Johnson won five straight championships under the Chase format until Tony Stewart broke that streak in last year's NASCAR playoff. With just one race remaining before this year's Chase, Johnson has a familiar confidence and swagger leading into the season's final 10 races.

That's bad news for anyone hoping Stewart's championship signaled the end of Johnson's Chase dominance. Johnson has won three races this year and enters Richmond fourth in the standings. In short, Johnson appears poised to regain his championship form.

"I feel really good," Johnson said. "I think our performance on track shows that. We haven't had the results the last couple of weeks where we were running on the racetrack. I feel really good about our cars and also the 10 tracks in the Chase.

"They are the best 10 tracks that I have. ... Starting at Chicago, I'm always fast there. Loudon, Dover, Martinsville, Charlotte – there's a great lineup of race tracks for the No. 48 team. I feel really good about things."

While Johnson is confident about his chances over the final 10 races, he thinks momentum will be the key to winning the championship. That's something he feels he doesn't have with Denny Hamlin winning the last two races. Hamlin is also a perennial contender at Richmond and could easily win Saturday night's race, a fact not lost on the five-time champion.

"I am definitely aware of Chasers winning races and what Denny has done over the last couple of weeks," Johnson said. "I thought about it on my way up here; this is a great track for him (and) he has a very good chance of winning here tomorrow night."

Johnson is already locked in to the Chase, having clinched a berth two weeks ago at Bristol. This gives him an excellent opportunity to just focus on winning the race and not worry about points. The standings will reset after Saturday night with seeding based upon wins. A victory on Saturday night would tie him with Denny Hamlin for the most wins and seed the two atop the standings once the points reset after Saturday night's race.

"Highest seeding and max points would be key," Johnson said. "I want to take in every point that I can (into) the Chase, missed out on a few opportunities here of late. I would love to get a few more to take in with me and then the momentum it would give the team is very useful too. It's a great shot in the arm for everyone."

That shot in the arm just might be enough to propel Johnson to a sixth Sprint Cup Series championship.

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. At Richmond: Excited To Chill Out For One Last Weekend

Last year at this time, Dale Earnhardt Jr. entered the final NASCAR race of the regular season clinging to a spot in the Chase and had to be on the defensive to maintain his position.

It was stressful and nerve-wracking.

This year, with a Chase berth already secured? Not so much.

"The best-case scenario is to be locked in a week or two early, and be able to take a little bit of a breather from the pressure you put on yourself to get as many points every week," Earnhardt Jr. said Friday. "So we can just race and not worry about points, which is really fun. It definitely is a ton less stressful."

That will all change next week, though, when Earnhardt Jr. begins the Chase with perhaps the best shot he's ever had at a championship. And unlike at Richmond, he's a bit concerned he'll have trouble calming himself down.

The energy level, he said, will be "probably higher than it should be."

"You get excited over certain things and you can get overzealous in driving the car and making mistakes," he said. "So I think that a calm-thinking approach and using your head and being smart is what's best. If you've got a fast car, you've got to know how to use it and use it to your advantage."

That didn't happen in a recent race at Martinsville, when Earnhardt Jr. had to remind himself to chill out after only 100 laps.

"For whatever reason that day, I was super ramped-up and I had done 500 miles worth of damage to the car in 100 laps," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I told Steve (Letarte, crew chief), ‘Man, I need to calm down or we're not going to have a car to finish,' because it was just destroyed down both sides of it."

Being calm behind the wheel is especially important in the opening Chase race, where no driver wants to make a mistake that is going to put himself in a deep hole going forward. As Earnhardt Jr. put it: "The Chase isn't won at Chicago, but it can be lost there if you screw up."

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Tony Stewart Bummed About Ill-Handling Car At Richmond

A frustrated Tony Stewart was at a loss to explain why he and his No. 14 team struggled terribly in the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice on Friday, saying he was just as puzzled as everyone else.

"I'd really like to know (why)," he said. "We're just bad right now."

Stewart ended up 42nd of the 45 drivers who participated in the opening practice at Richmond International Raceway. It might not be a big deal normally, but Stewart has to finish 14th or better to ensure his spot in the Chase's top 10 (he'd still make it as a wild card but wouldn't be able to use any bonus points).

"I'm starting to question whether somebody can drive it better than me at this point of the equation," Stewart said quietly. "I just can't get it to do what I'm wanting it to do at any point."

The defending series champion said he couldn't answer any questions about the Chase, because "I can't even get through this week right now." He also said he wasn't happy with any part of the team's racing program lately.

Of course, it was around this time one year ago when Stewart said he didn't even deserve to make the Chase. Then he won five races and the championship.

Maybe he should just say the same thing again this year.

"If that's what I thought it would take for it to work, I'd be right on it and pulling up everybody's transcripts from last year trying to make sure I get it exactly word for word," he said, managing a weak smile. "If we honestly think it works, sign me up for it."

In other Stewart-related news, the driver/team owner signed Ryan Newman to a contract extension at Stewart-Haas Racing this week despite not having a sponsor. Stewart said it was important to both he and Newman to get a deal done, even though he acknowledged it was somewhat of a risk to rehire a driver with no financial backing in place.

"You gotta start first with something," he said. "It's kind of the: 'What comes first, the chicken or the egg?' It's hard to get sponsors if you don't have a driver and it's hard to have a driver if you don't have sponsors. So we had to start somewhere."

As for Stewart's own sponsorship, he addressed the impending departure of Office Depot (which was announced last week at Atlanta). Office Depot, which has struggled in the bad economy, is cutting its involvement in NASCAR.

"I've been listening to all these politicians speak about how they're going to make things different, but I haven't seen anything get any better yet," Stewart said. "It's just hard. I'm appreciative of everything Office Depot has done for us; they were the first company to come on board with us when we started this deal. It was a hard decision for them to have to back away from it.

"I understand as a business owner what they're faced with, so I can't blame them. I understand 100 percent why they had to do what they had to do."

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NASCAR At Richmond: Elliott Sadler Confirms Departure From Richard Childress Racing

Despite four victories and sitting atop the NASCAR Nationwide Series point standings, Elliott Sadler confirmed he will not be returning to Richard Childress Racing in 2013.

"We'll probably go our separate ways at the end of the season," Sadler said Friday at Richmond. "...It looks like I will not be a part of RCR next year."

Sadler cited the "stars not being able to line up" as the reason for his decision to leave RCR, but wouldn't go into specifics when asked.

As for which team Sadler lands with for next year, that has not yet been decided – at least officially – as the points leader said he has yet to sign "anything with any team." The rumor mill, however, has him headed to Joe Gibbs Racing to drive one of its Nationwide Series cars full-time, along with making limited starts in the Sprint Cup Series.

Sadler's services being in high demand is a far cry from how different things were the last time he was a free agent following the 2010 season. Then, few teams were willing to take a chance on the veteran driver who had struggled badly on the track after a disappointing and frustrating stint at Richard Petty Motorsports.

But now, after having successfully resurrected his career, Sadler says he has options – and plenty of them.

"I was at the bottom of the barrel when all this stuff happened at RPM," Sadler said. "... My stock and what people think of me as a race car driver is way different than it was two or three years ago. It's back to how it was when I drove the 38 car and we were successful being a part of the Chase and winning races."

Despite his uncertain future, Sadler is intently focused on winning his first NASCAR championship of any kind. And he is unconcerned his status as a lame duck will affect the chemistry within his current team.

"Richard promised me anything and everything to get this deal (championship) done," Sadler said. "... We both made a helluva commitment to each other for these last nine weeks to do everything we can to put our best foot forward and try and win this championship.

"We both want it and we both have the same common goal."

In a perfect world, Sadler knows exactly how he would like to see his tenure at RCR come to an end.

"I would love nothing more than to bring a championship to Richard," Sadler said. "He's a good man who has been great to me.

"... If I can look into Richard Childress' eyes at Homestead and give him that trophy, that will be the coolest."

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Mitt Romney To Attend NASCAR Richmond Race Saturday Night

Mitt Romney will attend his second NASCAR race of the season on Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway, but his first since becoming the Republican presidential nominee.

Romney has the public support of NASCAR executives and many drivers, but NASCAR said his role at the race is still undetermined (one report said Romney will serve as the grand marshal and give the order for drivers to fire their engines).

It's unclear whether he'll speak to the crowd or address the drivers in their pre-race meeting, as he did at the Daytona 500 (though the race was rained out). It was in Daytona where Romney infamously spoke of his friendship with NASCAR team owners while saying he didn't know many drivers.

Last month, NASCAR CEO Brian France and NASCAR president Mike Helton helped host a fundraiser for Romney in Charlotte. Team owners Rick Hendrick and Richard Childress attended, along with driver Kurt Busch and Speedway Motorsports Inc. owner Bruton Smith.

When Romney was in Daytona, driver Brian Vickers acted as the candidate's personal tour guide and escorted him through the Sprint Cup Series garage.

President Obama has never been to a NASCAR race, even as a candidate. He has hosted the Chase drivers on three occasions at the White House, however.

Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden attended last year's season finale at Homestead and addressed the drivers in the pre-race meeting.

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NASCAR Wild Card Contenders At Richmond: What They're Saying

All eight of the drivers still mathematically eligible for NASCAR's two wild card spots spoke to reporters on Thursday evening at Richmond International Raceway – and expressed varying degrees of optimism.

For the majority of them, a win would be enough to get into the Chase. Others, though, need a win plus some help (in the form of misfortune from their competitors).

Here's a sampling of what the contenders had to say:

Kasey Kahne (near-lock for No. 1 wild card)

"As long as we show up and race well like we did at the first (Richmond) race and like we have been for the last few months – other than Atlanta – we should be in a pretty good spot."

"I checked (the scenarios) all out last night. ... We have a pretty good shot of making it, I feel like."

Kyle Busch (currently holds No. 2 wild card; needs to win OR finish ahead of other one-win drivers in points and hope they don't win)

"There's a great opportunity for (the race) to be very wild, and there's a great opportunity for it to be a little dull. To be honest with you, I'm going more with the dull side. I'd rather have it be more dull, because there'd be less B.S. afterward, I guess.

"It comes down to every man for himself. This is your year, this race here. Otherwise, if you don't make the Chase, essentially you're just another car out there making circles."

Jeff Gordon (needs a win to get No. 2 wild card OR pass Kyle Busch in points and hope another one-win driver doesn't win)

"We're treating this as if this is our championship, as if this is our Homestead. We're ready to win this race this weekend and seal the deal."

"Listen, we come here to win. We're going to be putting the best effort we possibly can throughout the whole weekend to try and accomplish that. We can't start playing out scenarios in our heads right now. We're going to do what it takes to win, whatever that means."

Joey Logano (needs a win to get No. 2 wild card)

"We've got to go and win. At least we know exactly what we've got to do – we don't have to carry a calculator with us or anything. We know it's do or die. It's kind of nice to know that, I guess, but it's no easy task, either."

"This race is going to be super entertaining because there are a lot of guys in the same boat as us. You never know what's going to happen. It'll be interesting to see who is in the top five on that final restart, because that's when it's going to get crazy."

Ryan Newman (needs a win to get No. 2 wild card)

"As simple and stupid as it sounds, we're here to win. I'm not going to crash everybody out of the way just to give ourselves an opportunity, because that's not the way I am."

"We still have the potential to have that dream come true, but you can have it all abolished in one lap or one corner. There's a lot of emotion that gets carried with that. It's the do-or-die moment on Saturday night."

Marcos Ambrose (needs a win to get No. 2 wild card)

"The big names that have yet to make the Chase have more pressure than I have. I'm along for the ride. I'm enjoying it. We have a chance to make some history, and we're going to give it our best shot. We go into this race and I'm happy to be a contender, and we'll see how it plays out."

Carl Edwards (needs a win plus must pass all the other one-win drivers in points to get No. 2 wild card)

"I've got to hope for Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon to have bad nights, and we've got to win the race. That's three things that have to happen, but the only thing I can control is to go out and win the race. So I'm going to try to win the race, and I think we have a car that can do it. We showed in the spring we have a fast enough car to lead laps here and challenge for the win."

"I'm hoping for an insane race. I want rain delays and oil on the track...I want things to happen. I need people to run out of fuel and have crazy cautions and go four-wide down into Turn 1. That's what I need, and I'll take whatever I can get."

"If Kyle and Jeff are in the positions they need to be in (for Edwards to make it with a win), I would not want to be in front of our 99 car at the end of this race. We have to win. That's all there is to it."

Paul Menard (needs a win plus must pass all the other one-win drivers in points to get No. 2 wild card)

"I'm honored to be in the hunt for the Chase. We're a longshot – we know that – and for us, it's simple: We just have to go out and win the race, and everything else will take care of itself."

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