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No one wanted to see Hanna show up in Virginia

by David Grayson
Saturday, September 06, 2008

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But she did and the heavy rain from tropical storm Hanna has forced some major adjustments for race #26 on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule at the Richmond International Raceway and we're going to have to wait until Sunday to find out exactly who is going to comprise the 12 man roster for the Chase For The Championship. The Sprint Cup race, the Chevy Rock And Roll 400, has been moved from Saturday night to Sunday afternoon, 1 pm eastern time, and will now be televised on the ESPN Network. The Nationwide Series event, the Emerson Radio 250, originally set for Friday night, will be held Sunday, 7 pm eastern, and will be aired on ESPN2.

The heavy rain that has swept through the southeast forced the cancellation of qualifying and that means the lineup for Sunday's race will be set by the points standings. With 46 entries filed for the race it also means that three teams will be going home empty handed. The go home list includes drivers Tony Raines and Sterling Marlin. It also means that the highly anticipated Sprint Cup Series debut of 18 year old phenom Joey Logano is going to have to be put on hold. Logano was scheduled to drive a fourth car for Joe Gibbs Racing, the #02 Home Depot Toyota, but the team has no established owner points and that's why the rain out hurt them.

Prior to the arrival of the inclement weather the Sprint Cup teams did manage to get a practice session in and there's good news for Jeff Gordon fans. The five time Richmond winner topped the speed charts after touring the speedway's three-quarter mile oval at 121.534 MPH in his Hendrick Motor Sports Chevrolet. Also making a very impressive run, in a Roush Fenway Racing Ford, was David Ragan who was second on the charts with a lap of 121. 529 MPH. This is especially good news for the sophomore driver because he still has a mathematical chance of making the Chase Roster. Completing the top five from the practice session were Juan Pablo Montoya-Ganassi Racing Dodge, Dale Earnhardt Jr-Hendrick Motor Sports Chevrolet and Mark Martin-Dale Earnhardt Inc Chevrolet.

NEEDLESS TO SAY THE FOCAL POINT OF RICHMOND WILL BE THE CHASE LINEUP.

The real Chase drama is actually located at the bottom of the list. Drivers Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, who won the Richmond race last year, Dale Earnhardt Jr and Jeff Burton have already clinched a spot in the Chase lineup. Greg Biffle just has to simply start Sunday's race and he's in. Kevin Harvick needs a finish of 42nd or better, Tony Stewart needs to finish at least 35th, Matt Kenseth will be looking for a 25th or better finish, Jeff Gordon needs to finish at least 23d and Denny Hamlin needs to finish 20th.

Again the real Chase drama lies with points positions 12th through 14th and involves drivers Clint Bowyer, David Ragan and Kasey Kahne. Bowyer holds down the 12th spot in the standings and is currently 17 points ahead of Ragan and 48 in front of Kahne. There are a few scenarios that will put Bowyer in the Chase for the second year in a row. First, if he wins the race he's automatically in the Chase. He's already proven that he's capable of doing exactly that because he won the first Richmond race last May. He can also automatically clinch a Chase spot if he finishes second or third and receives the bonus points for leading the most laps in the race. Beyond that Bowyer will have to make sure that he finishes the race ahead of Ragan and Kahne which could turn out to be a case of easier said that done.

Ragan is still looking for his first ever Sprint Cup Series win and Richmond would be a great place to break into the win column. If Ragan wins Sunday's race, and receives the bonus points for leading the most laps, then he's in the Chase regardless of what Bowyer does. Beyond that he'll be depending on Bowyer experiencing bad racing luck that will force an early departure from the race.

Kasey Kahne will be the driver to watch at Richmond because it's the 11th hour do or die time for his Chase hopes and you can expect him to do whatever he can to get to the front of the field. Kahne will be dependent on bad racing luck to impact his two Chase rivals. He will need to finish 48 points ahead of Bowyer and 31 points ahead of Ragan to get that coveted 12th spot.

IT'S OFFICIAL: KYLE BUSCH CAN RACE ANYTHING AND WIN.

It's not enough that Kyle Busch has been completely dominating all three of NASCAR's national touring divisions. Recently he stunned the National Hot Rod Association, NHRA, by scoring a highly impressive win in that arena as well. The event was held September 2nd at the recently opened Z Max Dragway located adjacent to the Lowe's Motor Speedway, LMS, outside of Charlotte-North Carolina. The LMS wanted to celebrate the fact that it was the first motor sports facility to host two championship rounds in two forms of racing within a few weeks of each other. The NHRA's Countdown To One championship series will be held at the dragway from September 11th through the 14th while LMS will host a NASCAR Chase For The Championship event on October 11th.

LMS wanted to do a special promotion and arranged for NHRA Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher to race against Busch on the dragway, in a best of two out of three series, in identical Toyota Camry pace cars. Busch won round one and, much to every one's amazement, took the second round when Schumacher red lighted the run which is an automatic disqualification. However Marcus Smith, LMS President and General Manager, didn't want to see the special event end on a red light run and proposed a winner take all third round which both drivers accepted. Busch beat Schumacher off of the line and ran an elapsed time of 14.544 seconds, clocking in at 97.43 MPH, to win it all. At the end of the quarter mile strip Busch climbed out of his car and took his traditional bow in front of the spectators. With a big smile on his face, the good natured Schumacher laughed and said "I already don't like him."

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