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Hamlin rules at Richmond, Chase field set

When the “Chase for the Sprint Cup” format was instituted in 2004, Richmond International Raceway inherited the annual Chase “cut off” race; the final event before the field is set. Drama at Richmond has been considerable on a yearly basis since then, but this year shaped up as the most dramatic yet.
Going into last Saturday night’s Chevy Rock and Roll 400, only four spots in the 12-driver field had been clinched. Those guaranteed berths in NASCAR’s “playoffs” were nailed down by Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, and Denny Hamlin. That left eight spots open and 11 drivers in the running for those eight spots.

Read more: Hamlin rules at Richmond, Chase field set

Race to the Chase: like him or not, there’s no quit in Kyle Busch

 Kyle Busch started off this season like he was going to roar straight into the Chase, just like last year. He racked up three wins in the first nine races. But suddenly we’re heading for September and Busch hadn’t won a race since May.

Read more: Race to the Chase: like him or not, there’s no quit in Kyle Busch

Check out short track action under the lights at Bristol Saturday night

 Saturday nights are made for short track action, and short-fused tempers. Last August’s Sharpie 500 provided both as Kyle Busch led 415 of 500 laps only to get the “bump” from Carl Edwards who went on to win the Sharpie 500 for the second year in a row.
  In typical Bristol fashion, tempers flared afterward and Busch retaliated after the checkered flag with a bump of his own on Edwards. Going into Saturday night’s race be sure to keep an eye on Edwards as he goes for his third Sharpie 500 win in a row.
Hard to believe, we’re coming into the 25th race of the season and Carl Edwards has yet to notch a win this season. Rival Kyle Busch, who started off like gangbusters with three wins in the first nine races of the season, now finds himself scrambling to qualify for this year's Chase.
The pressure is on and tempers are guaranteed to be short Saturday night.
  Busch didn’t settle for second place in this year’s spring race at Bristol, the Food City 500. He dominated the race, leading 378 laps to earn his second victory of the 2009 season.
  There has been a lot said and written about the empty seats week after week at NASCAR races this season. Blame it on the economy, or the lack of on-the-track and side-by-side racing caused by the Car of Tomorrow. The fact of the matter is that sellouts have become a thing of the past. National Speed Sport News recently reported that Daytona International Speedway did not even put a block of 50,000 seats on sale for this year's July 4 Coke Zero 400.
  In light of this, the announcement from Bristol Motor Speedway last Tuesday was especially impressive. Bristol Motor Speedway President and General Manager Jeff Byrd announced that Saturday night's Sharpie 500 was the tracks 55th consecutive sellout of a NASCAR Sprint Cup Race.
  “A lot of effort by our staff here at BMS went into making this happen,” Byrd said. “But the biggest tip of the hat goes to the fans. Those members of the extended Bristol Motor Speedway family, who continue even in tougher times to come back for the Bristol experience, are the ones who put us in this position.”
  "We commit ourselves every race to enhance the Bristol Experience for our loyal fans and the fans responded again,” Byrd added.
     The streak began August 28, 1982, when Darrell Waltrip edged Bobby Allison by less than a second in front of an estimated 30,000 fans. Since then, the facility’s seating capacity has increased to in excess of 160,000. Not one to rest on their laurels, they have already begun taking orders for their 2010 races.
  Fresh off his win at Watkins Glen, Tony Stewart needed only to start last Sunday's CARFAX 400 at Michigan International Speedway to mathematically clinch a berth in this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup. He became the first-ever owner/driver to make the Chase.
“We keep the eye on the prize at the end of the year,” Stewart said. “Those 10 bonus points for winning at Watkins Glen could be a big factor at the end.”
Speaking of going to Michigan for last Sunday’s race Stewart said, "We look forward to going there obviously because the manufacturers are there, and it’s a driver's track. You can help yourself out as a driver by moving around on the race track. It does give you that flexibility as a driver to not be just stuck with whatever your balance is. You can search around and try to find a spot that’s better for it.”
 Defending three-time Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson, who is in third place in the standings, has made every Chase since its inception in 2004. Only one other driver has qualified for every Chase: Matt Kenseth, currently 11th in the points. Mark Martin slipped to the 12th and final position in the Race to the Chase after finishing a disappointing 31st in last Sunday’s CARFAX 400. Kyle Busch dropped to 15th place, 70 points behind Martin.

Counting down to Richmond and the Chase for the Sprint Cup

 Just three races to go before the Chevy Rock and Roll 400 at Richmond will set the field for this year’s “Chase.”   With three victories in the 2009 Sprint Cup series, Kyle Busch would be near the top of the standings when the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins on September 20 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.  That’s because the Chase drivers have their points totals reset to 5000, and they get 10 bonus points for each pre-Chase victory, creating the Chase seedings.  Based on his three wins Busch would begin the Chase in second place, tied with Jimmie Johnson. Only Mark Martin, with four wins, has won more races than Kyle Busch this season.

Read more: Counting down to Richmond and the Chase for the Sprint Cup

Mustang enters NASCAR for the first time in 2010

Mustang will be Ford Motor Company’s new race vehicle in the Nationwide Series when it begins a limited rollout of its version of the “Car of Tomorrow” in 2010. Mustang’s motorsports history includes many types of racing including drag racing, road courses, and drifting. Mustang is the most successful car in Ford's long racing history, but it hasn’t competed in NASCAR until now.

Read more: Mustang enters NASCAR for the first time in 2010

Indianapolis Motor Speedway shares some NASCAR history

Indianapolis Motor Speedway is celebrating its 100th birthday this year, and although known more for its open wheel tradition, the track has seen its share of NASCAR history.
Stock car racing became a fixture at Indianapolis in 1994, with the advent of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. But NASCAR references and competitive crossover are found throughout Indianapolis’ long history. NASCAR founder Bill France was a pit crew member for driver Joel Thorne during the 1938 and 1939 Indianapolis 500. Thorne finished seventh and ninth respectively.
The car that Mauri Rose drove in his 1941 Indianapolis 500 victory proved quite versatile. The grandfather of outgoing Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Joie Chitwood III drove the same car in the 1946 Indianapolis 500. Buck Baker later drove the car to the NASCAR Speedway division title in1952. It remained in Charlotte, N.C., until Bob Harkey arranged for its return to Indianapolis. Today, the car is on display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame.

Read more: Indianapolis Motor Speedway shares some NASCAR history

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