It is do or die time for drivers hoping to make the "Chase for the Cup" top 12. After the race in Richmond on Saturday night we will know who has made NASCAR's version of the playoffs.
We know Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin are locked in. Carl Edwards just needs to finish middle of the pack to assure himself a spot. Mark Martin, Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth have a seat at the dance as it stands today, but will have to perform well in this race to keep Brian Vickers and Kyle Busch on the outside looking in.
Jimmie Johnson is the defending champion, beating Tony Stewart by less than a second last year. Johnson is looking for the three-peat on Saturday night, having won this race the past two years. Denny Hamlin finished 3rd followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mark Martin.
There were 22 lead changes among 10 different drivers. The race was caution filled with 14 yellow flags for 71 laps.
This race should be very exciting as there will most certainly be some jousting at the end to see who is in and who is out.
Matt Kenseth, who is currently in 12th place just 20 points ahead of Brian Vickers and 37 ahead of Kyle Busch, appears to be the likely driver to drop a spot or two and miss the "Chase". Richmond isn't Kenseths favorite even though he won in 2002. In the last eight versions of this race, the #17 car has finished in the top five just twice and 28th or worse three times.
Brian Vickers is closest to Kenseth but has had a rough go of it in this race. In five races, he has run no better than 24th place. That leaves Kyle Busch.
The most hated driver by fans, Busch will probably be a big focal point leading up to and during the race. Kyle finished 15th last year, 20th in 2007, second in 2006 and forth in 2005. That's pretty steady. He knows he needs to get it done this week so don't expect him to play nice.
Kevin Harvick is in a great position to win this race. Harvick won in 2006 and has finished 7th the last two years. Harvick has finished no worse than 18th place in this race going back to 2001 with his average finish being 12.8.
If Harvick or Busch aren't at the front, look for Johnson and Stewart to be the lead dog. Stewart has finished second to Johnson the last two years and has an average finish of 10th for his career here. Those two would be battling for the 10 bonus points the winner would fetch.
Don't forget we will have our live lap by lap coverage again this Saturday night at Sportschatplace.com. If you can't be home for the race or if football will be on the TV or if you just want to chat about the race, we would love to see you there.