Chase for the Sprint Cup Gains Momentum
Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway was loaded with excitement as drivers battled it out on the track in a race that offered some a last chance for a spot to compete in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Starting off with engine trouble that looked set to put him out of the running, Jeff Gordon fought his way back to finish in second place and clinch one of the two wild card spots to compete in the Chase – the other spot going to Kasey Kahne. Clint Bowyer took first place in the 2012 Federated Auto Parts 400, with Mark Martin in third, Tony Stewart in fourth place and Matt Kenseth crossing the finish line in fifth place.
Conceding that he had been “pretty ticked off” to have fallen than far behind at the beginning of the race due to car trouble, Gordon was elated to have made it into the Chase. The problem with the #24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet was reportedly the chain holding the read sway bar, which pit team boss Alan Gustafson ordered cut when Gordon made a pit stop just before rain halted the race on Lap 152. The difference in the car’s performance was immediately evident, and Gordon pulled out all the stops to regain lost ground – with impressive results. Saturday’s race was a particularly sweet victory for the #24 team which had experienced different issues during the season, keeping them just short of claiming a Chase position.
With all four Hendrick Motorsports teams in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, in-house rivalry is inevitable and will no doubt make the remaining races of the season even more exciting for both teams and spectators. With four contestants in the race – Kasey Kahn, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – owner Rick Hendrick stands a one-in-three chance of winning his 11th NASCAR Sprint Cup title.
Current standings are as follows:
1. Denny Hamlin – 2012 points
2. Jimmie Johnson – 2009 points
3. Tony Stewart – 2009 points
4. Brad Keselowski – 2009 points
5. Greg Biffle – 2006 points
6. Clint Bowyer – 2006 points
7. Dale Earnhardt Jr. – 2003 points
8. Matt Kenseth – 2003 points
9. Kevin Harvick – 2000 points
10. Martin Truex Jr. – 2000 points
11 Kasey Kahne – 2000 points
12. Jeff Gordon – 2000 points