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Fan’s View: Who to Watch in the Last Race Before the Chase at Richmond

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It's the last chance for a few Sprint Cup Series drivers to get into "post-season play" - it's the Last Race Before the Chase, and a few spots are still up for grabs in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Five of the following drivers have wins at Richmond International Raceway, host of this weekend's Federated Auto Parts 400 on Saturday night, September 8, while one is desperately in need of a win to keep his championship chances alive.

Kyle Busch - Busch leads all active drivers with four wins in 15 races at Richmond, and a fifth win would take "Rowdy" a long way into making it into the Chase. In addition to those four wins, Busch has nine more top 10 finishes as well as a pole.

Tony Stewart - "Smoke," currently 10th in points, is guaranteed at least a Wild Card spot in the Chase, but would lose nine bonus points if he dropped out of the top 10 in points. In 27 previous races at Richmond, Stewart has three wins and 18 total top 10 finishes - a finish of 14th or better will lock Stewart into the top 10 no matter where his closest competitors finish.

Kasey Kahne - Kahne currently holds the first Wild Card spot on the strength of two "regular season" wins - he has yet to clinch a spot, however. Kahne has one win and six additional top 10 finishes in 17 races at RIR, including a fifth-place finish in April.

Jeff Gordon - Gordon has two wins and 22 additional top 10 finishes in 39 races at RIR, plus five poles. Gordon is currently on the outside looking in as far as the Chase goes, but a win would help his cause for the "post-season."

Ryan Newman - getting involved in last week's late-race wreck at Atlanta didn't help Newman's Chase hopes any, but there is still a slim chance - he needs to win. Newman has a win and 12 total top 10 finishes at RIR, plus a pole.

Carl Edwards - in order for Edwards to make the Chase, a few things need to happen (and this is one of the simplest scenarios for any of these drivers) - first, he needs to win; second, Busch needs to finish 24th or worse and not lead any laps and Gordon needs to finish 12th or worse. If Busch or Gordon make it into the top 10 by jumping over Stewart, Edwards is automatically eliminated.

Sources: "Statistical Advance - Analyzing the Federated Auto Parts 400," NASCAR Media, September 3, 2012

"Richmond Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Clinch Scenarios," NASCAR Media, September 3, 2012

Paula is a long-time NASCAR fan who also covers the sport at Skirts & Scuffs and

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