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Last Updated Sunday, Sep 18, 2005 1:37 am, EDT

Chevy Rock & Roll 400

Status: Final Richmond International Raceway

Race Capsule

Richmond International Raceway
  • What:

    Race 26 of 36 on Sprint Cup circuit

  • Where:

    Richmond International Raceway, Richmond, VA

  • When:

    September 10, 2005 7:40 pm EDT

  • Laps:

    400

  • Track Length:

    0.75 miles

  • Race Length:

    300.00 miles

  • Purse:

    $4,875,701

Drivers to Watch

Greg Biffle Moved ahead of Jimmie Johnson and into second in the standings following a runner-up at California Speedway last week; was his third consecutive top-10 finish after managing just one over the previous seven events; is 209 points behind Stewart and 49 ahead of Johnson with one race before the standings are adjusted to separate the top 10 drivers by five-point increments; tied with Stewart for the circuit lead with five victories, with the most recent coming in Michigan on June 19; ran eighth in this event last year and finished sixth here in May.
Jeff Gordon After rallying to crack the standings top 10 for the first time since June two weeks ago, finished 21st in Fontana last week to slip two spots to 12th; the four-time series champion is 30 points out of 10th place entering the final race before the "Chase for the Nextel Cup"; ran third in this event last year to claim the top spot in standings entering the inaugural "Chase"; posted three checkered flags among five top-fives in the first 10 events of the season but has run no higher than sixth in 15 events since, finishing outside the top 20 eight times; finished third in the points standings last season when the top three positions were separated by just 16 points; leads all active drivers with four wins here, most recently at this event in 2000; considers the situation in this race among the most pressure-packed in his career: "It ranks right up there with going for the championship last year, (and 1997) when we were battling for the championship with Mark Martin and Dale Jarrett. It's intense pressure going into one single race, and you'll remember last year, seeing what all those guys that were battling to get into the top 10 were going through."
Ryan Newman Tumbled two spots to 11th in the standings - one point out of the top 10 - following an 18th in last week's Sony HD 500; fell out of the top 10 for the first time in nearly four months; his chances for a berth in the "Chase" were dealt a serious blow when Dale Jarrett's retaliatory bump on the 318th lap of the Sharpie 500 two weeks ago saddled him with a 39th; leads the circuit with five poles this season and is the only driver with more than two; seeking to lead the series in that category for the fourth straight year; also led the circuit with eight wins in 2003, including the checkered flag in this race; has not visited victory lane in a premier series event but won three consecutive Busch Series races; won the pole for this event last year but finished 20th; in a precarious situation entering this race: "There's no doubt about it that we've got our hands full this weekend. We absolutely did not want to leave California outside of the top 10, but that's the hand we've been dealt. Now, we'll just do our best to win this Saturday night. Hopefully, we can pull a Jeremy Mayfield on all of them, winning the race and securing us a spot in the 'Chase.' Last year was a nail-biter, and it looks like this year will be, too."
Won this race in dramatic fashion last year to climb from 14th to ninth in the standings and into the "Chase"; is seventh in the standings this year and needs only to finish 39th or better here to clinch a berth in the 2005 10-race championship run; finished 30th or worse four times in the inaugural "Chase," and his struggles carried into the start of this season as he did not record his first top-10 until the ninth race; his six top-10s overall are tied for second fewest among the 16 drivers still mathematically eligible to make NASCAR's playoffs; claimed his first checkered flag of the season in Michigan on August 21 but has run 18th and 26th in two events since; was runner-up to Ryan Newman in this event in 2003.
Matt Kenseth The 2003 series champion moved into the top 10 for the first time all season following a seventh in last week's Sony HD 500; had spent 71 consecutive races in the top 10 before engine problems relegated him to a 42nd in the 2005 season-opening Daytona 500; over the last three events, has climbed from 16th to ninth in the standings, 11 points ahead of 11th-place Ryan Newman; has recorded nine top-10s in the last 13 races, including his first victory since March 7, 2004 two weeks ago, after managing just one in the first 12 races; won this race in 2002 and finished seventh in 2003 but ran 28th last year.
Carl Edwards In his first full season on the circuit is eighth in the standings, 86 points ahead of 11th-place Ryan Newman; will clinch a berth in the "Chase" with a finish of 19th or better here, regardless of where any competitor finishes; has run 19th or better in six of the last seven events; a day after winning his first premier series pole and fourth Busch Series race of the season, rebounded from an early spin to finish fourth in last week's Sony HD 500; ran sixth in this event last year and 21st here in May.
Elliott Sadler Is 13th in the standings, 52 points behind 10th-place McMurray; ran 17th last week at California Speedway to mark his ninth consecutive finish outside the top 10; has managed just one top-five all season, a second from the pole in the Food City 500 at Bristol on April 3; ran seventh here in May among his nine top-10s this season; has not won since the Pop Secret 500 on September 5, 2004, when he clinched his berth in the inaugural "Chase"; native of Emporia, Virginia is oddly calm with the season on the line in front of his home crowd: "I'm looking at this weekend as though we've got nothing to lose. I'm relaxed. I was relaxed at California. I feel like going to Richmond, there's only one thing we can do and that's go to try and win the race. We can't really worry about the points. We can't really worry about who we're racing and who we're not racing. We just need to go up there and run the best way we can, whether it's taking chances like two tires or four tires or whatever. I feel like the pressure is not on us. I think the guys that are only one or 11 points behind or 10 points ahead of 10th place have more pressure than we have. I think that we have to go up with the mind-set that we've just got to race as hard as we can and not really worry about the points."
Jimmie Johnson Finished 16th in his native California last week, marking his sixth finish of 10th or worse in the last seven events; fell a spot to third in the standings, 49 points behind second-place Biffle; also struggled in the events leading up to the "Chase" last year, managing only two top-10s in the final eight events before the 10-race championship run; led the circuit with eight checkered flags last season, including four over the final six events to come within eight points of a title; also was championship runner-up in 2003; finished 40th here in May after running 36th in this event last year.
Tony Stewart The 2002 series champion ran fifth last week in California, clinching the top spot in the standings entering the "Chase"; was his 11th consecutive top-10 finish, a span during which he claimed each of his five checkered flags this year to tie for the circuit lead in that category; also leads the series with 17 top-10s and 12 top-fives, including a runner-up to Kasey Kahne here in May; three of his 24 career victories have come on this track, including this race during his rookie year of 1999; needs one more triumph to match his career high of six wins established in 2000; is relaxed with his spot in the "Chase" already secure: "We don't have to make something happen, so it definitely takes the pressure off. We'll go out and worry about winning the race vs. worrying about getting into the 'Chase.'"
Jamie McMurray With an eighth in California last week, climbed two spots to 10th in the standings, just one point ahead of Newman; ran ninth in this race last year but was left on the doorstep of the "Chase" with the 11th spot in the standings; maintained that spot through the final 10 races of 2004 to earn the $1 million bonus for finishing first among non-championship eligible drivers; in his penultimate season with Chip Ganassi Racing before replacing Mark Martin in the Roush Racing No. 6 Ford, has eight top-10s; was one of the hottest drivers on the circuit in the second half of last season, posting 14 top-10s in the final 18 races.