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ABC rockin’ NASCAR Saturday night in Richmond

Sep 4, 2007 8:37 AM

This week is the final race for a few drivers to make NASCAR’s 10 race "Chase for the Championship."

The Richmond race on Saturday night has turned out to be one of the most exciting of the year because of what lies ahead for those few drivers competing for the final few positions. Richmond traditionally has been one of the most electric tracks because of its flat ¾-mile configuration, but now the race has taken a whole new realm of importance.

There is nothing better than seeing a driver under pressure and point watching as each lap passes to see where he stands. "Am I in?" and "How far back is he?" are a lot of the conversations going on between the drivers and their crew chiefs of the few attempting to make the chase. It has all the drama and excitement of our favorite sports where elimination games are played. There is nothing better than a loser leaves town match!

This is a version of Game 163 in a baseball season where the division lead is tied and the loser goes home. Who can forget Bucky Dent making a name for himself performing in the spotlight just prior to the playoffs beginning!

Because of the drama created by this race, the big boys in the television industry are taking over. The remaining 11 races of the season will be televised by ABC beginning with the Fireworks and commotion of Saturday night’s Rock-n-Roll 400. Who would have ever thought the Capital of the Confederacy would have its race broadcasted on the same network, same night, and same time slot as ABC’s legendary duo of "The Love Boat" and "Fantasy Island?"

Yes, NASCAR truly has come a long way. Can you imagine what Mr. Rourke would say to Tattoo after finding out they got pre-empted by a NASCAR race?

Last season we saw Kasey Kahne race himself into the chase and knock Tony Stewart out. Dale Earnhardt Jr will be attempting to do accomplish the same thing this week, but he needs a lot of help. If Junior wins and leads the most laps, he’ll need Kevin Harvick to finish 33rd in order to make the Chase.

A win by Junior wouldn’t be far fetched at all. Richmond is one of his favorite tracks and he’s won there three times. The hard part is going to try and get Harvick to finish 33. Over Harvick’s career at Richmond, he’s only finished worse than 25 once. Harvick also won this race last season.

The favorites to win the race are Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and Denny Hamlin, all at 5/1. They come in as the top choice because they have won on the three tracks that are deemed somewhat similar in setups by crew chiefs. New Hampshire, Phoenix, and Richmond have been linked over the years by several drivers doing very well on all three over the course of a season or two.

Last season it was Harvick, who did serious damage to all three tracks. Before him it was Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Ryan Newman, and Jeff Burton.

Hamlin, Gordon, and Johnson have finished in the top 5 at those races this season at the three tracks. Ford and Dodge looked much improved in the last "Car of Tomorrow" race at Bristol, but I have a feeling that this race will resemble what we saw at the three similar tracks.

On a sentimental note, I’ll go with a Virginian to win the race. Hamlin wanted to win for Virginia Tech and the state following the tragedies and came up just short. We think he gets there this week.

As for Junior, we like him to run very well as he drives for his season. However, asking harvick to run poorly here is just too much to ask. Look for a top 10 out of Harvick and Top 5 from Junior.

1. #11   Denny Hamlin 5/1
2. #8   Dale Earnhardt Jr 14/1
3. #24   Jeff Gordon 5/1
4. #48   Jimmie Johnson 5/1
5. #5   Kyle Busch 8/1
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