Chase on for final two spots

DEAN MCNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:38 AM ET

The final grid in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship is all but set ahead of Saturday night's Air Guard 400 at Richmond International Speedway.

The top 10 drivers of the 12 who will make the final cut have already clinched: Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Jeff Burton, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin.

For the final two drivers -- currently Greg Biffle and Clint Bowyer hold down those spots -- the following scenarios have to play out at RIR's .75-mile oval.

NASCAR statisticians have worked out that Biffle -- currently 161 points ahead of 13th place -- will be in the Chase if he finishes 42nd or better or if he leads at least one lap.

Bowyer is currently 117 points ahead of 13th place. Regardless of any other driver's finish, Bowyer will clinch if he finishes 28th or better or 29th if leads at least one lap.

Only Ryan Newman -- in reality -- has a chance to jump he queue into the top 12. He sits 13th.

There are some pretty significant drivers who will have only the spoiler role to look forward to this season, like Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mark Martin, Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray.

PIT STOPS

Over in the IZOD IndyCar Series, Australia's Will Power takes a razor-thin 17-point lead into the penultimate race on Sept. 19th at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan.

And looking over his shoulder is two-time champion Dario Franchitti.

Franchitti knows how to win, but more importantly, he knows how not to lose. The wily Scot won't hand Power anything over the final two races.

"He's a very mistake-free, fast driver. And he's very experienced," Power said of Franchitti. "He knows how to win championships. He knows how to win races. I've just got to be a little bit better than that."

Power had the chance to put some more distance between himself and Franchitti at Kentucky, but couldn't pull the trigger.

He led 83 laps, but lost four positions late in the 200-lap race when he got pushed up the track while he was lapping a car.

That allowed Franchitti to close to 17 points in the title chase. Scott Dixon is 83 points back.

FINISH LINES

Canada's Patrick Carpentier has done well in his three-race deal -- so far -- with the No. 26 Ford team and expectations are that the Joliett, Que., native will be back in the car for a few more races before the current season is over ... Steve Arpin, of Ft. Frances, Ont., won his fourth ARCA Series race of the year at the Southern Illinois 100 at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds on Monday ... It's odd that JR Motorsports has Aric Almirola in the No. 7 NASCAR Nationwide series Chevrolet at Richmond when Danica Patrick is available. Patrick knows RIR and in IndyCar, at least, she seems more suited to short ovals ... The most ridiculous feud in NASCAR this week is between washed-up Todd Bodine, who currently leads the seniors tour in the Camping World Truck Series, and Sprint Cup bad boy Kyle Busch. At Kentucky last week Bodine spun out all by himself at one point and blamed it on Busch, calling him a "dirty racer". Bush is a lot of things that Bodine never was, like talented, but he isn't dirty.

DEAN.MCNULTY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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