It's week 26, it's Richmond, and this could only mean one thing.
It's do or die time for a lot of drivers.
From positions nine-14, there are only 98 points separating the five drivers, and there are only three spots for the five.
Two of them will miss.
These five drivers are, Ryan Newman, Mark Martin, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Brian Vickers, and Kyle Busch.
What chances do each of these drivers have, of making the chase, click on to find out.
Ryan Newman is 9th in the points standings in his inagural season with the Stewart Haas team.
After missing the chase, the last three seasons, the South Bend, Indiana native is looking to race his way back into the chase, for the first time since his owner, Tony Stewart's last championship.
Pros: A fourth place finish here in the spring may have Newman jumping for joy to get back to Richmond, and being a previous winner here, shows that he can get it done on the short track.
Cons: Newman's team tumbled two spots in the standings after a not so shabby 23rd place finish at Atlanta. However, it's going to take more than a 23rd place finish, to make it into this thing, and Newman, and his new team, have ZERO wins this season, he must run in the top ten if he wants to make the chase.
Mark Martin has the most expierience of the drivers who will be in the field on Saturday night.
Being only one of two drivers in the field to race on the old Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway, (Michael Waltrip being the other) Mark has ran every single race that has ever been run at the Richmond International Raceway.
Pros: Four wins with his new team this year, and he and Alan Gustafson look like he and Steve Hmeil from his near magical 1991 season. And a fifth place finish at Richmond in the spring, shows that the ageless wonder can still get around this old place really good.
Cons: Mark hasn't won here since the spring of 1990. Which means, Mark's never won a night race here at Richmond. Also Mark's team has still stuggled to find consistency all season long. The man once known as "Mr. Consistency" has been everything but that in 2009, and he'll need a good finish, and may have to go back to his Roush days, and points race, to make it into the chase. There's no time to fool around for Mark Martin, this could be his last chance, and he needs to make the most of it.
Greg Biffle is next.
Biffle has had a nice season for his #16 Ford.
He's been really consistent, finishing in the top-10 almost every week, and remains in the same position he was in last year, when he and his #16 team had no wins going into the chase.
Pros: Biffle's been consistent, and he drives for Jack Roush. Roush is well known as the points racing type of owner, and Biffle will be sure to do so Saturday.
Cons: Biffle hasn't finished in the top-10 at Richmond since the fall of 2006. His track record at Richmond, for the most part, is not a good one at all, he's going to need to finish higher than 17th like he did here in the spring. Also after finishing 10th in Atlanta last week, Biffle still fell three spots in the standings, that's just pure bad luck, and he can't have that this week.
Kenseth is different than the other five drivers in this fight due to his 2003 Championship.
He's done this before, but he's not having the best of seasons. Kenseth's track record at Richmond has been up and down. He started off really good, including one win, but as of late in the new car, it has not been so good, only one top-10, and that was a 10th. Matt's expierience may get him in, but his inconsistency may not.
Pros: Matt is a past champion, and has won this thing before. He's been really consistent, and has two wins in 2009.
Cons: Matt is a past champion, too bad is was a way different system. He has been really consistent. Consistenly mediocore, he hasn't finished higher than 10th since the Coke Zero 400, and has not had a finish higher than fourth, since his win at California. He also has two wins, but none since California in week two, that was a long time ago.
Brian Vickers has had a bounce back second half.
He's been having a magical season so far and is a major candidate to make it in.
Vickers track record at Richmond looks like the National's loss colomns. Many numbers, and all of them high, and that's not good in either column.
He's only had one top-10 here, and that was an eighth place finish here, in his first start here in 2004.
Pros: Vickers has had the best season he's ever had, and with a good crew chief in Ryan Pemberton, he's got a good shot.
Cons: Unfortunatly, there's a lot more cons than pros. Red Bull's short track program has been awful since day one, and it has not improved much, he's had a magical season, but only a fuel mileage win, and his track record at Richmond proves, gas or no gas, Vickers has a tough time hitting the accelerator at Richmond.
Kyle Busch is the last man standing in this six-man battle for four spots.
His 2009 hasn't even been half of his 2008. Four wins, three of them early on in the season, and his win at Bristol has been the only shining light on what has been a disappointing second half for Kyle.
Bud luck has dealt him a bad hand too, his last lap crash at Daytona dropped him from a win, to a 14th place finish, and he'd be about where Mark Martin is right now. But we can't turn back the clock.
Pros: Kyle can win, he won here in the spring, and seven out of his nine finishes here have been top-5's. Kyle always seems to put the petal to the metal when things get tough, and this is the toughest part of his career yet. Plus he's with an organization that has three championships, they know how to get the job done.
Cons: Kyle himself is a con, in a few ways. His aggresiveness, has gotten better this year, but he can't afford to pull crazy moves, he needs to sit back and get the best finish possible. Also, his past history is a con. He hasn't treated his competitors with the most respect possible, and Tony Stewart showed us that at Daytona. In the game of give and take, there will be a lot less give for Kyle Busch.
There are four spots for six drivers, and all of these factors may make or break a driver's chances, but lets let them figure it out for themselves Saturday night