|Who will be the final 16 standing after Richmond?|
This is the last chance for drivers outside the Top-16 in points to try and get the automatic Chase birth by winning a race which is going to to put immense pressure on several drivers to take all levels of their game up a notch. They will be forced to make daring moves they might not try in other races, and since there is no tomorrow, they’ll lay it all on the line.
Of the drivers that need to win to make the Chase, I think you can only make a case for three drivers -- Kasey Kahne, Kyle Larson and Tony Stewart. Larson probably has the best possibilities of all, but Kahne has the experience in these spots and I like Stewart to run well just because his practice sessions last week at Darlington raised an eyebrow. This isn’t the same set-up as Darlington, but knowing Stewart’s crew found some speed has me intrigued about him this week, and he should be able to be found at odds of 75/1 or higher.
Stewart has three Richmond wins to his credit, the last coming in 2002, but more than just a solid 12th-place average finish there appears to be a spark within the team, and it’s about time. For goodness sakes, this is Tony Stewart, the owner of the team which happens to include last year's champion Kevin Harvick and the Richmond winner from April, Kurt Busch. While the No. 4 and No. 41 have been winning races and looking like possible candidates to win this year's Chase, Stewart has run more than Danica Patrick, who has been a major disappointment to Stewart-Haas Racing.
Patrick is another driver needing to win, but if she hasn’t won during her first three years in the Series there is no reason to think she can win, unless you believe that association with the No. 4 and No. 41 cars are to her benefit. The sports books will tempt you with 500/1 odds to win at Richmond, but I wouldn’t even thinking of laying $5 on her unless there was another zero attached to the price. Because she gets sponsorship dollars, we will see another year of Patrick, who -- let’s be kind -- hasn’t been as spectacular as expected in stock cars.
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