Richmond International Raceway provided a thrilling backdrop for the close of the regular portion of the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season and 12 drivers are now in place as the ‘Chase for the Sprint Cup’ starts.
Clint Bowyer won the Federated Auto Parts 400, on Saturday night, and Jeff Gordon assured himself a place in The Chase with a second-place finish. Mark Martin finished third in the race.
“Unbelievable,” Bowyer beamed. “To win tonight, the way we won it. I learned a lot. We got the left rear knocked down, that ultimately ended up winning us the race.”
Bowyer was involved in an incident with Juan Pablo Montoya halfway through the race. The contact deflated his left-side rear tire and left him struggling to keep control of the car as he limped back to the pits. He gave a nod to Montoya, acknowledging that the racing accident helped him in the end.
“Thank you, Juan Pablo, for wrecking me and then winning me the race,” Bowyer said.
Rain delayed the start of the Federated Auto Parts 400 by nearly two hours and another shower held up the race for almost an hour. A third rain shower had drivers jockeying for position, which for some was a last ditch effort to make it into the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Gordon’s strong finishes the last two races knocked Kyle Busch out for the final wild-card spot in The Chase. After finishing as runner up the last two Sprint Cup events, said he felt like he won this weekend’s race.
“Wow, what a race for us,” he said. “Went from last week being the most disappointed I’ve ever been to finish second to (this week) being the most excited I’ve ever been to finish second.”
With the regular portion of the Sprint Cup now over, the entry list for the Chase for the Sprint Cup reads as follows (listed according to NASCAR seedings): Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Brad Keselowski, Greg Biffle, Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Kasey Kahne and Gordon.
The Chase begins Sept. 16, with the GEICO 400 in Chicago, and continues for the following nine weeks, when the 2012 Sprint Cup champion will be crowned on Nov. 18 in Homestead, Florida.
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images
The field is set for NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup. From left to right (back row): Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson; (front row) Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Clint Bowyer and Matt Kenseth.