A First Time Winner Could Really Shake Things Up At Richmond

Chase Elliott
The last three drivers on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff grid are separated by a mere three points.

If there’s no new winner from off the playoff grid in Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway, those three drivers – Chase Elliott, Matt Kenseth and Jamie McMurray – would all make the postseason. But, if there’s a new winner from off the playoff grid, one of the three would be eliminated.

Going into the race, Elliott leads Kenseth by two points and holds a three-point advantage over McMurray.

“We need to continue to run like we have ran these past couple of weeks and have solid weekends altogether,” said Elliott, who has a high finish of 12th in four Richmond starts. “I feel like our qualifying efforts have really improved here lately, which is what we need and I think what is going to be even more important as time goes on, so we need to continue to do that. Getting in is one thing, but doing something when you get in, if you get in, is another thing and you want to be able to do something if you can get in.”

In 35 starts at Richmond, Kenseth claims two wins, six top fives, 16 tops 10s and a 16.1 average finish. He won the September race there in 2015 and won the Coors Light Pole at the .75-mile track in April.

“Because this is the last race before the playoffs start, this will be a big weekend for a lot of teams, since there are several still trying to lock themselves in to the playoffs,” said Jason Ratcliffe, Kenseth’s crew chief. “It’s always an exciting race, and thankfully, it’s a track that we typically run well at and I feel like it’s a place where we can win. Knowing that we need a win to get in or that we’re going to be fighting our way into the playoffs on points, I’m excited that we’re going to a race track that we’ve performed well at.”

McMurray has produced three top fives, eight top 10s and a 19.2 average finish in 29 Richmond starts. In his last eight starts at the Northern Virginia track, he’s logged three fourth-place showings and five top-seven performances.

“We have been really good at Richmond the last few times there,” McMurray said. “So I’m looking forward to having a good race for our team and securing a spot in the playoffs.”

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