Countdown to the Chase Field
Here's a quick glance at this year's Chase field:
DRIVER: Kyle Busch
DRIVER: Carl Edwards
DRIVER: Jimmie Johnson
DRIVER: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
DRIVER: Clint Bowyer
DRIVER: Denny Hamlin
DRIVER: Jeff Burton
DRIVER: Tony Stewart
DRIVER: Greg Biffle
DRIVER: Jeff Gordon
DRIVER: Kevin Harvick
DRIVER: Matt Kenseth
Jimmie Johnson celebrates his
Everything's a wash-out in Virginia, thanks to
And it's official: both of the Cup races won't be run until Sunday at Richmond in what'll turn out to be a doubleheader. The Chasers will go at 1:00 p.m. EST, and then NASCAR's version of "AAA," the Nationwide Series, will run at 7.
Supposedly, a combination of weather and not enough policemen doomed track activities for Saturday; the officers will be busy fulfilling more important obligations, as the State of Virginia is under a State of Emergency due to the tropical storm.
It's raining in Richmond. And it's getting harder. Still no word from the track or NASCAR about updated contingency plans. As we spelled out in an earlier entry, the Richmond event will NOT be moved to another weekend. A NASCAR insider says the organization is prepared to run this race as late as Wednesday.
Everything looks fine from where I'm at. Oh, wait a minute. I'm in Chicago, site of the IndyCar Series finale where they will actually determine a season champion; not determine the 12 drivers who will "contend" for the title.
This may sound unusual, but the IndyCar Series has a chase for the championship, too. It actually begins with the season-opening race and continues for the rest of the year. And, it's "Chase" actually includes the Indianapolis 500 -- still the world's most famous race.
It's only fitting that the best two drivers of the "entire season" --
It's raining at Richmond and qualifying for the Nationwide Series is under delay. It's now a matter of
Next-greatest-thing ever (Ever!) Joey Logano on the possibility of qualifying being washed out tonight, which would scuttle his attempt to make his Sprint Cup debut: "That would suck a lot."
Logano, 18, will replace Tony Stewart in the No. 20 Toyota at Joe Gibbs Racing next season.
It looks as if rain is only about two hours away here in Richmond. This is bad news for rookie
Hurricane Hanna mania has begun to increase with the humidity and the cloud cover beyond the track. NASCAR officials continue to insist that the fast-moving system will bluster through the Richmond area quickly tonight and tomorrow, deluge the area with rain, blow around some debris and leave track crews with sufficient time to run the race close to its announced start time tomorrow night. But the garage is an incubator for rumors, and by mid-afternoon crews had begun discussing a supposed upcoming announcement the facility would be closed tomorrow to allow emergency personnel to address the real-life business of public safety. One Dale Earnhardt Inc., crewman approached
SI.com's Lars Anderson makes a strong case for
For a story that's going to appear in SI next week, I talked to
Gordon is one of the best short track racers on the circuit, and after the muscle he flexed in practice, he's got to be considered the favorite to win this last race of the regular season. Currently 10th in the points, Gordon has finished in the top 10 at Richmond in his last three starts at the track. I think he's a safe bet to make the Chase. After all, when it matters most, Gordon has a history of delivering.
Hey, everyone! We just finished the first practice with the clouds rolling in. Usually it's hard to analyze a day practice here because the race is being run at night. Turning the lights on and the temperature down changes the handling of these cars. However, a lot of Chase contenders are expecting a delay, which means the race would be run in the daytime -- with similar conditions to today's practice.
That means the second-fastest speed from
"Weather" or not we'll get qualifying in is 50/50, as the rain is supposed to start here just before cars roll off at 4 p.m. ET. Richmond is scheduled to be an impound race, which means teams are usually not allowed to change their setup after qualifying -- but the weather might force NASCAR to bend those rules a bit.
As for what a postponement might do to the Chase, what I said before remains true: the Richmond event will NOT be moved to another weekend. A NASCAR insider told me we're prepared to run this race as late as Wednesday, so we're about to buckle down and wait out a heck of a storm. Let's hope the forecast changes its course ... but it's not looking good!
Finally at Richmond after dodging the killer I-95 traffic out of D.C. (Phew! How rare is it you blow through D.C. and don't get stuck?) As of 4 p.m., the school of thought at the track is they'll be able to get all of Friday's activities in without Hurricane Hanna interrupting. That means practice and qualifying for the Cup cars will go on as scheduled, and then the Nationwide race will also be run in full. After that, the track is preparing to go into "shutdown" mode for the brunt of the storm to hit overnight into Saturday.
A friend in the know I spoke to said it's "wishful thinking" for the race to be run on Saturday night, and that the earliest he could see things going was a Sunday night showdown. Once again, I'm hearing NASCAR will try to get the race in this weekend if at all possible, instead of postponing the event -- it doesn't have any open weekends left until Thanksgiving.
The National Hurricane Center's latest
Rain delay or no rain delay at Richmond this weekend,
An insider tells me that NASCAR is preparing to run the race no earlier than Monday morning based on the latest forecast. However, RIR organizers have sent out consistent updates that all events remain on as scheduled and I'm told that campers are being allowed into the facility to set up shop. How many stay there throughout the course of the weekend remains to be seen.
NASCAR's 12-man Chase field is expected to be finalized this weekend, but weather could delay the proceedings. With the National Hurricane Center predicting Hurricane Hanna will most likely come ashore between Friday and Saturday, somewhere between the east coast of Florida and the North Carolina coast, Saturday night's race at Richmond could be delayed by rain. RIR organizers continue to insist that all events will run as planned. Check back for race updates and on-the-scene garage reports from