By AMANDA VINCENT
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular season concludes with Saturday night’s running of the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. Afterward, 16 drivers will compete for the 2015 Sprint Cup in the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup. Eleven drivers head into the Richmond race already with Chase berths locked in by virtue of winning race(s) throughout the 2015 season, to this point.
There are four drivers not locked into the Chase who have a shot at getting in without winning, regardless who who wins at Richmond or where anyone else finishes.
Of those drivers, Jamie McMurray has the best shot at getting into the 16-driver Chase field. All he has to do is start Saturday night’s race. Meanwhile, Ryan Newman will get in by finishing 31st or better, 32nd or better if he leads a lap, or 33rd or better if he leads the most laps in the 400-lap race.
Jeff Gordon controls his own destiny by finishing 17th or better Saturday night, 18th or better after leading at least one lap, or 19th or better if he leads the most laps.
If the Richmond winner isn’t new to victory lane this year, the aforementioned three drivers will be in the Chase, regardless of their Richmond race finish.
Paul Menard basically gets into the Chase with a top-10 finish. He gets in if he finishes ninth or better without leading a lap, 10th with at least one lap led, or 11th if he leads the most laps. If the RIR race winner is someone who already has won this year, Menard’s requirements drop to a finish of 38th or better with no laps led, at least 39th with at least one lap led, or 40th or better if he leads the most laps.
Clint Bowyer’s only chances at getting into the Chase are someone repeating as a winner or Bowyer winning, himself. If he doesn’t win but there is a repeat winner, he would be able to claim a Chase spot with a finish of 28th or better, 29th or better if he leads at least one lap, or 30th or better after leading the most laps.
For anyone else not already locked in, the only chance of getting into the Chase would be winning at Richmond, that is if he/she is in the top-30 of the points standings at the conclusion of the race.
Drivers already locked into the Chase with wins in the first 25 races include Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch.
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