- Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 September 2011 20:17
- Published on Tuesday, 06 September 2011 20:17
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They tried mightily to get the race in, but it was just not going to happen. Last Sunday’s Avco 500 from Atlanta was scheduled for a 7:30 start time. The pre-race show began on ESPN at 7 p m. The announcers were upbeat and enthusiastic. The colors were presented, a local minister gave the invocation, and a gospel group sang the national anthem. All the while we watched the steady rain over the talking heads’ shoulders.
Eventually they advised they were in a rain delay, seemed pretty obvious, just looking at the TV screen. At any rate they talked to any driver, or crew chief they could locate. As time wore on ESPN switched to the West Virginia versus Marshall football game, only to learn the football game was also in a delay due to lightning. Back and forth the ESPN network went,
still raining at Atlanta, back to Morgantown only to learn the ballgame was in another lightning delay, back to Atlanta, same story. Finally around 10 p. m., NASCAR announced the race had been postponed until Tuesday at 11:00 a.m. Monday had a 100% forecast of heavy rain and high winds, so they decided no use beating their heads against the wall Monday, better to just schedule the race for Tuesday. Unfortunately, newspaper deadlines being what they are, we can’t give you an update on the Atlanta Race results.
It’s really crunch time on the who will make the Chase, and the two wild card drivers. The pressure is really on and postponing last Sunday’s Race for two days has got to have several drivers especially antsy. Perhaps none more than Brad Keselowski.
Six races ago Keselowski was 23rd in the Sprint Cup standings, 95 points behind 10th place Denny Hamlin and holding a victory that might have been worthless had he stayed outside the top 20 in the standings.
Heading to Atlanta Motor Speedway for last Sunday’s Advo Care 500, Keselowski had become the hottest driver on the circuit. His third victory of the season the week before at Bristol Motor Speedway gives Keseowski a near lock on one of the wild card spots in this season’s Chase for the Sprint Cup, which begins September 18 at Chicagoland Speedway.
By stringing together wins at Pocono and Bristol among four consecutive top three finishes in the past four races, the 27 year old Michigan native has erased all but 21 points of his post-New Hampshire deficit. He’s closing on the top 10, and an automatic Chase berth, at the rate of 19 points per race beginni9ng with the Brickyard 400.
The bad news for Keselowski, should he fall short of the top ten and qualify for the Chase as a wild card driver, is that he will forfeit nine bonus points for his three wins, since wild card entrants don’t get bonus points in the re-seeding.
The wild card picture, however, gets wilder if the Penske Racing driver knocks down the top ten door Saturday night at Richmond. Denny Hamlin, presently the second wild card driver by virtue of his victory in the June race at Michigan, would be the first wild car. Should only one driver in the top 20 be eligible due to a race win, the best placed non-winner in the standings would get the second slot. Right now that would be Clint Bowyer.
With six more points available, three at Atlanta, the three at Richmond, when they re-rack the points for the Chase after Saturday night, Kyle Busch will be the provisional number 1 seed with four wins, Kevin Harvick will be second with three wins followed by Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon with two wins each.
Now, if Brad Keselowski makes it into the top 10, his bonus points will put him all the way up to third place behind Harvick in the seeding for the Chase.
It’s going to be a very busy week, with the Tuesday race at Atlanta’s mile and a half track, back to the shops and re-tool for Saturday night’s race on the 3/4 mile Richmond track. Then up the road to Richmond. There’s a lot on the line in a very few days; Enjoy.