Updated: September 3, 2012, 5:48 PM ET

Last-chance Chasers get one more shot

Blount By Terry Blount
ESPN.com
Archive

NASCAR Sprint Cup SeriesKevin Liles/US PresswireCarl Edwards needs to win Saturday at Richmond and get help to make the Chase after a disastrous ending Sunday night at Atlanta.

Now it's one last chance with one spot on the line for the Chase.

OK, officially it's two spots. Kasey Kahne could fall out of a wild-card position, mathematically speaking, but there's a better chance of Duke winning the ACC football title this year than Kahne dropping out of the playoff.

So this is it, a Saturday night showdown at Richmond with seven drivers still hoping to earn that final Chase spot.

For five of those drivers with one victory this season -- Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman, Joey Logano and Marcos Ambrose -- it's win and you're in the 2012 Chase ... probably, unless Tony Stewart drops out of the top 10 and some other unusual things happen. Busch or Gordon still can make it in on points. Busch leads Gordon by 12 points for the 12th and final spot.

Winless Carl Edwards also still has a shot, but winning Saturday won't be enough. Edwards needs to win the race and hope Busch has a terrible night while Gordon doesn't have a good one. Edwards is 26 points behind Busch and 14 points behind Gordon. He has to finish ahead of both of them in the standings, along with winning the race.

Paul Menard is in the same boat as Edwards, but 10 points below him in the standings. In other words, he's unofficially done.

And in all likelihood, the Chase is a no for Edwards, the man who finished one point short of winning the 2011 championship. A blown engine ruined his chances Sunday night at Atlanta.

"But we'll go to Richmond to win and somehow, maybe, a miracle will happen," Edwards said Sunday. "I don't ever quit and this team doesn't ever quit.

"But man, [a blown engine] is getting kicked when you're down right there. I'm just trying to come to grips with how pivotal this is for our season, how bad it is, but that's just the way it is."

Gordon came one spot short of possibly earning a Chase spot Sunday night when Denny Hamlin beat him by 0.378 seconds for the victory.

"We know how bad we needed that win," Gordon said after the race. "It's pretty disappointing to come up short like that. We've got a lot of pressure on us. We're going [to Richmond] guns loaded and ready to do battle. We're just going to fight all the way to that last lap."

Gordon knows better than to hope he can catch Busch in the points standings at Richmond. Busch has won three of the past five Richmond races, including earlier this year. He has finished sixth or better in the past seven Richmond races.

"I'm not going into it thinking we've got to finish 12 positions ahead of Kyle," Gordon said. "I'm thinking we've got to win. We know Kyle is going to be tough there.

"If we don't make it, as long as we put our best effort forward, then we'll go try to win races in the final 10. Man, this team, I'm so proud of how hard they fought through this whole season."

Busch, who finished sixth Sunday night, knows he owes one to Hamlin.

"Our [Joe Gibbs Racing] teammate did us justice tonight and kept the 24 [Gordon] from Victory Lane," Busch said.

Busch enters Richmond as a big favorite to keep the final Chase spot. But four other drivers -- Gordon, Newman, Logano and Ambrose -- know they likely can throw all the math scenarios out the window and take it from him.

If they win, they're probably in.

"We've done it before and we can do it again," said Newman, who won the September race at Richmond in 2003. "The battle is certainly not over."

Ed Hinton: Hamlin in Chase driver's seat | Live! rewind | Recap | Results | Highlights

Nationwide Series: Harvick stewing over debris caution

The Water Bottle 300 (the one thing most people will remember about the Nationwide race Saturday night) has given NASCAR officials another controversy to sort out.

Brad Keselowski's water-bottle toss late in the race probably didn't cause a late yellow flag, but it left Kevin Harvick furious and brought questions about what NASCAR should do when drivers toss a plastic bottle out the window.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was a surprising winner when it appeared Harvick's car was unbeatable before the last restart.

Making matters worse for Harvick was Keselowski giving Stenhouse a little push to help Stenhouse get to the front. In Harvick's view, none of that would have happened if Keselowski hadn't thrown the bottle out of the car.

But NASCAR officials said the bottle toss didn't cause the debris caution. And there was an accident after that caution that caused a red flag.

Nevertheless, NASCAR now has a question to answer: Should a driver be penalized for throwing anything out of his car during the race?

"Everybody throws that stuff out the car," Keselowski said afterward. "NASCAR knows that, and if they decide to throw a yellow, that's their prerogative. But most times they don't. That's their call. I can't speak for NASCAR."

Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition, said drivers are allowed to throw water bottles out of the car.

Why? And what's next? A shoe?

Brant James: Familiar finish for Danica | Recap | Results | Highlights

Camping World Truck Series: Good news, bad news for Busch

The good news for Kyle Busch is Friday's night Camping World Truck Series race turned out a lot better for him than his last truck race did.

The bad news came when rookie Ty Dillon passed him for the lead with six laps to go, giving Dillon his first victory in the series.

But it beats the heck out of the Texas truck race last November, when Busch intentionally wrecked Ron Hornaday Jr. under caution. NASCAR officials didn't allow Busch to race the rest of the weekend.

By comparison, no drama and almost winning at Atlanta looks pretty good.

Dillon, 20, stays in the hunt for the Truck series championship. His victory moved him within nine points of series leader Timothy Peters. James Buescher is second, only six points behind Peters.

If Dillon manages to win the title, it would be the first time in series history that brothers had won Truck series championships. Older brother Austin Dillon won the 2010 title before moving to the Nationwide Series this season.

Recap | Results

Terry Blount is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at terry@blountspeak.com.

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?