Race: Wonderful Pistachios 400
Date: Saturday, September 10, 2011
Track: Richmond International Raceway
Time: 7:30 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Racing Handicapper, Predictem.com
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Jeff Gordon held off teammate Jimmie Johnson for his 85th career win at Atlanta during a rain-infused delayed race that happened on Tuesday rather than the intended Sunday night. This win has pushed Gordon into the realm of the 3rd most all-time wins. He holds a coveted spot and keeps inching up to places that most drivers will never imagine seeing during their careers. Congratulations to Gordon, for a well-deserved and well-driven race to victory lane.
Teammate Jimmie Johnson proved to be one heck of a force to be reckoned with in the closing laps. While Gordon was able to hold him off, the racing definitely proved that Hendrick Motorsports has done quite a nice job of their reconfiguration on all their teams.
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Now, Atlanta proved to be treacherous on tires as it usually does. As predicted, pit strategy really helped put Gordon and Johnson to the front of the field. Even during the Nationwide race on Saturday night, tires were tearing cars apart left and right. As we head into this weekend, drivers will certainly be happy to know that tires will not be such a big issue. Not only that, but this track will more than likely have plenty of rubber from the Friday night Nationwide race, pending any major weather changes that move rain into the area.
Richmond is a favorite track of mine. As you know, I am partial to short tracks to begin with, and this is a ‘home’ track that I’ve had the privilege of going to on several occasions. Unfortunately, I have family obligations this weekend that will keep me home from the track, but that sure doesn’t mean that I won’t be watching it! This mile track is a D-shaped oval with 14 degree banking in the turns, 8 degree banking on the frontstretch, and 2 degrees on the backstretch. The frontstretch is 1290 feet, and the backstretch is 860 feet.
As we head into the last race of the regular season this Saturday night, we are looking at Gordon coming off a win, and Johnson coming off a very strong race. These 2 drivers are going to be major contenders this weekend, and I think that Johnson is actually going to take the win here. While Gordon will be strong, I think that Johnson will prove that he’s still got what it takes to get that championship. Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin are also 2 other drivers to watch carefully. They are defending winners here from last year. You also have to consider that this is Hamlin’s home track, and he always seems to be very successful at both here and Martinsville. Overall, though, I expect that Hendrick cars of Gordon and Johnson to dominate the evening once again.
Here are your top 10 drivers going into Richmond:
1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Kyle Busch
3. Carl Edwards
4. Matt Kenseth
5. Jeff Gordon
6. Kevin Harvick
7. Kurt Busch
8. Ryan Newman
9. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
10. Tony Stewart
Your 11th and 12th place drivers are Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin respectively. They are also the number 1 and number 2 wild card picks. This is the last race of the regular season as previously stated, and I really do not think that there are going to be any major point shakeups. I think where these guys are is going to be where they remain barring any major catastrophes. Stay tuned for a night of great short track racing that will close our regular season in style!
Virginia’s Pick to Win the Wonderful Pistachios 500: Jimmie Johnson.