Road To Richmond Heating Up As NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Visits Atlanta

Sunday's Stop at Atlanta Motor Speedway is Final before Air Guard 400 on September 11

Glowing Rotor

Clint Bowyer holds a 100-point lead over Jamie McMurray for the final Chase spot heading to Atlanta.

The “Road to Richmond” has just one stop before the Air Guard 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at America’s Premier Short Track on Saturday, September 11, “under the lights.” The drivers visit Atlanta this week for a Sunday night affair on ESPN. It marks the final event before “One Last Race to Make The Chase” at Richmond International Raceway next Saturday.

With only two events remaining before the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, it’s now or never for several drivers looking to race their way in to The Chase. Clint Bowyer sits in 12th place for now, with a couple of eager drivers nipping at his heels. Let’s take a look at who to watch this weekend in Atlanta:

Clint Bowyer: Currently 12th place in the driver point standings and has a 100-point cushion. A strong run in Atlanta would solidify his chance at securing a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, but a slip-up could open the door for several contenders to race their way in at Richmond. He has four sixth-place finishes at Atlanta, but his last two events have ended in 29th- and 23rd-place finishes.

Jamie McMurray: Despite two marquee wins this season, he needs to race harder than ever this week to gain points on Bowyer and gain momentum heading into Richmond. McMurray’s last two Atlanta starts haven’t ended well—28th and 29th.

Mark Martin: The veteran is 101 points out of the final Chase spot. He only has two top-10 finishes in his last eight Atlanta races. But prior to those, Martin reeled off four consecutive top-five finishes. If there was ever a time to get back on track, it’s now.

Ryan Newman: Newman is the longest of the realistic long-shots to make The Chase, but there’s still hope. He would need to leapfrog both McMurray and Martin to have a chance. He has an average finish of 17.9 in his 17 races at Atlanta.

But there’s a lot more to the story than these four drivers. Each win during the first 26 races counts for 10 bonus points in The Chase standings for those drivers making the Chase. So a driver who has zero wins is already at a disadvantage to a driver who has one or more wins. Here is the current win total for drivers currently in the top 12, with number of bonus points in parentheses:

· Denny Hamlin – 5 wins (50 bonus points)
· Jimmie Johnson – 5 wins (50 bonus points)
· Kyle Busch – 3 wins (30 bonus points)
· Kevin Harvick – 3 wins (30 bonus points)
· Kurt Busch – 2 wins (20 bonus points)
· Greg Biffle – 1 win (10 bonus points)

Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart, Jeff Burton, Matt Kenseth and Clint Bowyer have zero wins among them, so expect these drivers to look for a win over the next two weeks.

Get your tickets now to see the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers battle “under the lights” in the Air Guard 400, known as “One Last Race to Make the Chase” and the headlining event of the Post-9/11 GI Bill NASCAR Weekend at Richmond. Tickets are on sale now with a limited number of $40 tickets available. Tickets are also available for Friday night’s Virginia 529 College Savings 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race.  Friday tickets start at $30 and include WRIC-TV8 Pole Qualifying and practice for the NASCAR Nationwide Series, as well as Fas Mart Pole Qualifying and practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Children 12 and under are admitted free in general admission sections with a ticketed adult on Friday only. All tickets can be purchased by calling 866-455-7223.
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