Race: Chevy Rock & Roll 400
Date: Saturday September 6, 2008
Track: Richmond International Raceway
Time: 7 pm ET
Richmond International Raceway is a lot of things to a lot of drivers. To some, it’s their favorite track. To others, it’s a place where the goal is to just survive the night. And for others, Richmond is the place where dreams can be made. This is the case for guys like Kasey Kahne, Clint Bowyer, and David Ragan. All of these guys and a few others are on the bubble for the Chase, and they have a tough road ahead of them if they’re going to make it out of Richmond with a running car.
The problem with Richmond is that it’s a short track. No, really, that’s it. There’s a reason why guys either love or hate short tracks. If they can keep their wits about ’em and manage not to kill each other on the track, it can be quite an exciting race. In fact, there’s tons of beatin’ and bangin’ that goes on here. There’s also so much passing that it can be hard to keep up with who’s on the lead lap and who’s gone 3 down. Guys get pushed and shoved into places they don’t want to be, and this leads to nothing but a problem for a lot of guys.
In particular, RIR is one of my favorite races to see live. The track is awesome. It’s a short track, so no matter where you are, you can see everything that is going on. It’s a mile D-shaped oval with 14 degree banking in the turns, 8 degree banking in the frontstretch, and 2 degree banking in the backstretch. If you think about those stats, it seems like Richmond is a shrunken California in a waythere’s just a lot less room for error.
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This track boasts some of the bigger names in terms of consistent winners. Of course, we have the Hendrick’s guys. Jimmie Johnson does absolutely wonderful at this track, and with the runs he’s been having recently, I wouldn’t bet against him making a strong run for victory lane. There’s Jeff Gordon, who also has multiple wins here and is really a short track star. Tony Stewart is also another great driver on these types of tracks, as is his teammate Kyle Busch.
If I had to pick a winner for this weekend, I’d strongly be looking after Jimmie Johnson. With how he’s been running lately and also with his history here at Richmond, he’s going to be one to watch. His teammates are going to be running up there as well, although I do not see them being as competitive as Johnson based on their performance so far this year. Jimmie is the defending champion of this race as well as the winner of the spring race last year. He knows this track and knows how to stay out of trouble, which is key on these short stops that we have. Another issue that we frequently see here is fuel mileage, so I’d bet on that making or breaking it for some guys.
Let’s review the top 12 one last time before we head into the final race of the regular season:
1. Kyle Busch
2. Carl Edwards
3. Jimmie Johnson
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
5. Jeff Burton
6. Greg Biffle
7. Kevin Harvick
8. Tony Stewart
9. Matt Kenseth
10. Jeff Gordon
11. Denny Hamlin
12. Clint Bowyer
With so many guys on the brink and potentially falling out of Chase contention, I’m willing to bet that there’s going to be some anger management problems this weekend. This is our final race of a definitely entertaining regular season. After Richmond, it’s game on to determine this year’s Cup Champion!