I really can’t say what I saw the entire weekend at Richmond International Raceway was a complete surprise. We see this a lot when we go back to a track for a second time where there is no rule change, but there is a tire change. It just seems like there is a driver and team or two that hits on the perfect setup and they make life miserable for everyone else in the field.
We saw it happen Friday night in the Nationwide race where Kyle Busch started from the pole and led all 250 laps until he took the checkered flag. Then Saturday night in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series race Brad Keselowski led 383 of 400 laps, also from the pole on his way to his fourth win of the season. It was the greatest percentage of laps led in one race since Jeff Burton at Loudon clear back in 2000.
So that wasn’t too big of a surprise going in knowing that there was a tire change since the last time we raced there. We also knew going in that 14 of the 16 Chase spots were locked in. Outside of Ryan Newman and Greg Biffle, the rest of the field had only one thing on their mind that being winning.
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We all felt that Ryan was pretty safe to make it on points. He just needed a good solid run and got it. For Greg, it was a different story. Had Greg run well Saturday night there wouldn’t have been anywhere nearly the drama. At one point, Greg’s hold onto the 16th spot had dropped to only four or five points over Clint Bowyer, so that made for an interesting storyline obviously.
What we saw at Richmond Saturday night might be somewhat of an indicator of what we will see at Loudon or Phoenix in a few weeks as the Chase progresses. Do you remember who won Loudon? Yup, it was the same guy who one Saturday night — Brad Keselowski.
So the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup begins this weekend and remember, we are under a new format this year. Come Homestead in the middle of November, the field of 16 Chase drivers will be whittled down to only four when the green flag waves for that final race of the year!
VIDEO: Highlights – Richmond International Raceway