By admin | September 9, 2011
By Richard Allen
For years, one of the biggest complaints from fans about NASCAR has been that drivers are not willing to sacrifice the points they can gain for a decent finish in exchange for taking the risks necessary to win. Well, this Saturday night at the Richmond International Raceway there is nothing for virtually every driver in the field to do other than win.
The drivers who find themselves within the top-10 of the Sprint Cup standings after the completion of 400 laps at RIR will qualify for the Chase for the Championship. And more, the two drivers outside the top-10 who have the most wins will be admitted to the playoff as wildcard entrants.
After the cutoff, those top-10 drivers will receive a three point bonus that will be added to their Chase points totals for each victory they have so far compiled. Wildcard drivers will not be awarded bonuses for their wins.
Eight drivers are already locked into the Chase field. With a three point bonus available, a win will be worth fighting for on the ¾ mile track. The reward for victory far exceeds the penalty for failure in this case. There is nothing of any benefit for these eight men other than a win. There will be no such thing as a “good points day” for the drivers already locked in.
Other than the eight locked in drivers, more competitors can be served by nothing other than a win. If there is a tie in number of wins of those drivers who hope to achieve the wildcard, the highest running driver in points will be rewarded. As of right now, Brad Keselowski with his two wins and Denny Hamlin with his one win and the highest place in the points of those drivers with one win are the two drivers in the best position for the wildcards.
Paul Menard, Marcos Ambrose and David Ragan each have one victory. A second win could move one of these drivers past Hamlin for the second wildcard spot. Since the driver has to be in the top-20 of the standings to get a wildcard, Ragan and Ambrose would need to climb a few spots in the points as well scoring a win. Regan Smith also has one win but he cannot possibly make the top-20.
Aside from the locked in drivers and those hoping for a second win to boost their wildcard chances, there are any number of drivers who could find themselves suddenly in Chase contention with a win and a couple of breaks going their way. A.J. Allmendinger, Clint Bowyer and Greg Biffle would need some help in the form of a Denny Hamlin disaster but there is a chance none the less, with a victory.
And for those not vying for extra Chase points or just a spot in the playoff, a win could turn a season around and offer hope for the future.
Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis often uses the phrase “Just win baby” as his team’s motto. This weekend in Richmond, that phrase sums up the needs of just about every driver in the field.
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