NASCAR's Final Race To The Chase Weekend: News and Notes from Richmond

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NASCAR's Final Race To The Chase Weekend: News and Notes from Richmond
Jerry Markland/Getty Images

Many interesting moments took place and one burning question was answered on Friday afternoon at Richmond International Raceway.

Great moments, like hearing the joy in Carl Edwards’ voice over the radio when he took the pole position from Juan Pablo Montoya by 0.051 seconds.

Proud moments, like when Dale Earnhardt Jr. qualified ninth for Saturday's race and watching the crowd erupt into cheers in the stands. Through thick and thin, Dale Jr. will always be loved and respected.

Nail biting moments, like wondering who the last two drivers will be to round out the 12 Chase contenders.

Greg Biffle, who qualified 24th for the Air Guard 400, currently sits in 11th place.  His position in the Chase is all but guaranteed, he will clinch the spot as long as he finishes 42nd or better or if he leads at least one lap, he will make the Chase no matter where he finishes.

Clint Bowyer who currently sits in the 12th place has his work cut out for him. In order for him to keep that final spot in the Chase, he must finish the Air Guard 400 in 28th or better, 29th if he leads at least one lap, or 31st and leads the most laps.

Three drivers who currently sit outside of the top 12 still mathematically could have a chance. Any driver within 161 points of 12th place can potentially still make the Chase.

Look for Ryan Newman, who is 117 points out of the top 12, Jamie McMurray, who is 128 points out, or long shot Mark Martin, who is 147 points out to make their moves on Saturday night.

Bowyer will roll off the starting grid in the fourth position, Martin in 19th, Newman in 23rd, and McMurray in 34th for the Saturday night showdown.

Classic moments, like when Tony Stewart was heckled by fans from behind the fence to walk over and sign autographs for them. In true Stewart-esqe fashion he yelled back. “I did an autograph session yesterday, just so I wouldn’t have to do it right now.” He reached into his cooler outside of his hauler, grabbed a drink and disappeared behind closed doors.

Winning moments, like watching Kevin Harvick hold off Brad Keselowski in the final laps to win the Virginia 529 College Savings 250 Friday night under the lights.

Perhaps though, the one moment that ended up being the most memorable for media and fans alike was when we first saw Kyle Busch in his hot pink firesuit and matching Nationwide ride.

On Friday night, he raced the infamous “Kimmy” Toyota Camry, from the "Sponsafier" TV commercial, in which fans  were encouraged to bring their own artistic ideas to www.toyotaracing.com and design the car of their dreams. The winning design will come to life and be on display at Phoenix International Raceway on Nov. 14.

The contest now enters phase two as 100 national semifinalists will be announced on Sept. 14.

In order to bring additional awareness to the contest, Toyota decided it was high time to give the people what they wanted and put Busch in the pink suit, driving the pink car.

“It was a neat commercial and the way that it turned out was really fun,” said Busch. “There’s been a huge reaction. Everybody has been pumped about the commercials and more pumped about seeing me in the pink suit and driving that car.” 

Prior to Friday night's race, Busch even managed to get his Nationwide crew chief, Jason Ratcliff (reluctantly) on board.

“I was making fun of Kyle and he said he was going to fix me up and he said he was going to make sure I was going to get one,” Ratcliff said.

“I told him I was not getting a pink fire suit, but unfortunately I’m getting a pink fire suit.  I have to find out what kind of shoes you wear with a pink fire suit.  I don’t want to look out of place and wear my black shoes with a pink fire suit.  I’m going to try to stay up on top of the pit box and hide.”

Ratcliff also pointed out that there are unique problems with driving the decorated car. “I told somebody last week that if we’re going to race a pink car, we better run good because you can’t show up with a pink car and run bad.  If you do, it’s like a double whammy.” 

Busch and the Kimmy car ended up with a top-10 finish. 

With the introduction of the Kimmy car and all of it's adorable, fluffy goodness, that one burning question was finally answered once and for all,  “Who doesn’t like kittens and bunnies and little baby seals?”

No one. We all love kittens, bunnies, little baby seals and Kyle Busch, we love you in that pink suit!

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