KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina – As the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams head to the final race before the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, all eyes will be on Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway as teams vie for the remaining spots in the 16-driver playoff field.
So far, 13 drivers have essentially locked themselves into the Chase by securing a win, but they will also have to remain inside the top-30 in the driver point standings to remain eligible. If all 13 stay in the top-30 in points, then that will leave three spots up for grabs in Saturday night’s race. There are four drivers mathematically eligible to race their way into those last three spots in the Chase field based on points: Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon, Jamie McMurray and Ryan Newman. However, with just Saturday night’s race left before the Chase field is set, there are other drivers and teams who can capitalize on one last opportunity to race their way in with a victory.
Danica Patrick and the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) will be one of the groups looking to play the spoiler role and race their way into the Chase field Saturday night.
Patrick has seven Sprint Cup starts at Richmond and her best finish to date was a 16th-place result earned in September 2014. In three NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Richmond, she finished a career-best 18th in September 2011.
In addition to her stock car experience at the track, Patrick also competed in five IndyCar Series events at Richmond. She earned a fifth-place finish at the .75-mile oval in June 2009, best of her four IndyCar top-10s at Richmond.
With that experience under her belt, Patrick and her No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet team will be in search of victory on Saturday at Richmond as they have one last chance at making the 2016 Chase field.
DANICA PATRICK, Driver of the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What are your overall thoughts on Richmond?
“I’ve always enjoyed going to Richmond. I had fun racing Indy cars there. I liked driving the Xfinity car there, as well. We didn’t have the greatest results, but it was still fun.”
What makes the racing so good at Richmond?
“When you have a good car, it creates opportunities to pass. Turns one and two are kind of tight, and three and four are more of a long corner, so it’s a challenge to set the car up. We slip and slide there a bunch, anyway. There is more grip at night and I’m thankful for that.”
There are a few drivers stilly vying for Chase spots at Richmond. Are you expecting anything crazy to happen, or will it be business as usual?
“I highly doubt it will be business as usual. You want to get the most points possible because those spots are open and people are going to try like hell to win the race. There is always that last great push at the end and it will be interesting to see how it turns out. There might be a few yellows.”
- Krista K. Massey
Former Group Vice President, Director of Sponsorships and Event Marketing
SunTrust Banks, Inc.