|Joe Gibbs Racing has been incredible at Richmond.|
Four drivers are vying for the three open positions and up to 17 drivers are eligible to qualify if they win which is going to make for some intense racing on the flat 3/4-mile layout throughout the field.
"The second Richmond race each year is especially intense just because you know that there’s a lot on the line," said three-time Richmond winner Kevin Harvick, who leads the series in points and qualified for the Chase a long time ago. "There are a lot of people racing for different things. It’s the end of our regular season. If you’re not in the Chase, it’s your last chance to win a race. There are some guys who will probably be fighting for points spots as you go in there, but Richmond is kind of your perfect short track. It has good speed, a short-track feel to it, and the tires wear out. That’s kind of what we all grew up racing on. It’s got a little bit of everything and that makes it a fun place to race."
Some drivers like Chase Elliott, who sits comfortably in the 14th slot with a 25-point cushion on 17th-place Ryan Newman, will play it safe and just look to finish well and stay out of trouble. He would love to get his first career win this week, but making the playoffs is more important at this juncture.
Austin Dillon, sitting 15th, only has a 16-point lead over Newman and knows he could be in jeopardy of falling back just because of his track history where he's averaged a 24.2 finish in five career starts, including his career-best of 20th in the April race.
"Our mindset and our goal is to just do whatever it takes to make it into the Chase for the Sprint Cup," said Dillon. "It would be huge to make it. It’s a big boost of confidence and that’s what we all do it for."
Newman has a 2003 Richmond win to his credit along with 16 top-10s and an 11.7 average finish over 29 starts. That's some pretty strong stuff over time while driving for three different teams. He's currently 100/1 odds at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook to win the Sprint Cup and in 2014 he was a few laps from winning it all without even winning a race that season. His consistency makes him a candidate to do well in the Chase format.
Jamie McMurray currently has a seven-point lead in 16th over Newman, and like Dillon, Richmond hasn't been his best track with a 20th-place average in 27 starts. However, he's finished fourth there three times in his last six starts. He also got a solid sixth-place finish at New Hampshire in July, which is relevant because of it being a flat one-mile track. You can throw Phoenix into that grouping as well with the thought process being if a driver is good one one of those tracks, they'll be good on the other because the set-ups are similar.
McMurray can look at his New Hampshire result and feel good that last years sixth-place finisher at New Hampshire in July, Matt Kenseth, won at Richmond in the same situation. This year, Carl Edwards finished second at Phoenix in March and then won the April race at Richmond. They're all correlated, and it's not to say McMurray will win -- I wouldn't bet him, but he should have confidence of finishing well.
Read More Here......Top-5 Finish Prediction on VegasInsider.com