Race:Federated Auto Parts 400
Date:Saturday September 8th, 2012
Track:Richmond International Raceway
Time:7 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper, Predictem.com
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And so it begins, or ends, depending on how you look at it.Atlanta was an awesome race to watch with an even more awesome green-white-checker finish.Too bad Jeff Gordon didnt win.He gave it everything he had with the exception of wrecking Denny Hamlin to take the checkers, although he did point out that he thought his clean driving was a mistake.Lucky for him, we are headed to Richmond this Saturday night which is another great track for Hendrick drivers.Unfortunately for Hendrick drivers, especially Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin is also very good here too.
What is going to make Richmond the best race of the year is the sheer fact that we have a 3 or 4 driver battle for the wild card spot.Richmond is going to be the best short track racing we have seen.These guys have nothing to lose other than a championship run if they dont go for a win.Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, and Kasey Kahne are truly the contenders for that spot.If Jeff wins, Kyle is out.The interesting note here is that Kahne and Gordon are teammates, so they have to place nice to a degree.
Richmond is definitely a track where playing nice is not the easiest thing to do.At mile, this tri-oval is tricky to get around for some.There is always plenty of lap traffic too, which makes the passing that much more difficult.The thing about Richmond which differentiates it from Bristol and Martinsville is the fact that it is over a mile.That gives the guys a little more room and a little more speed.This can be good and bad.While theres more passing room, theres also more room to try and get under cars to pass.This leads to a lot of wrecks here.Guys think they have the room and put a fender under the quarter panel and end up spinning and wrecking a good portion of the field.
That being said, drivers need to maintain track position here and also think about fuel strategy.I think that unlike Atlanta, where tires were key, we are really going to see track position and fuel strategy play out during this race.Guys need to get up front and try to stay there.This is a more difficult track to drive away from the field in than the rest of them, but it is doable.Drivers also have to remember that pit strategy and saving that fuel for a potential green-white-checker is really going to make a difference here.With nothing to lose, you better believe that someone is going to risk the fuel strategy to pull out a win.
As stated before, this track is generally good to the Hendrick team.In fact, all 4 Hendrick drivers have wins here.As Ialsomentioned before, Denny Hamlin is a repeat winner here.This is also a home track for the Virginia driver.Besides those guys, we really have to watch Kyle Busch.Hes dominated here over the years and really needs the wild card position, so look for him to charge.The last major name I will throw in the bucket is going to be Kevin Harvick.If his team can give him a decent car, hes always one to watch on this short track.Heres a rundown of your potential winners this weekend at the Federated Auto Parts 400:
Middle of the Road Pick:Martin Truex Jr.
Dark Horse Pick:Marcos Ambrose
Gordon is going to give it everything hes got.You cant ever count him out when hehasto win.Truex felt like he gave away the win at Atlanta after dominating for a good portion of the race, so hes going to drive hard to prove that he deserves his Chase run.Finally, Marcos Ambrose is sneaking around all the time now.You never know when you are going to see him running up front.He has been consistently in the top 10 during most races at some point, so keep your eyes peeled on that number 9 of Ambrose.
The Federated Auto Parts 400 is sure to be filled of racing fun.Richmond is going to close out our regular NASCAR season and lock in those top 12 drivers to make a run for the championship.Stay tuned as we head to one of thebest races of the year this weekend at Richmond International Raceway!