(Originally appeared Sept. 7, 2011 at WRALSportsFan.com)
One more race to go, and then the season begins anew for 12 of NASCAR's premier Sprint Cup drivers – and effectively ends for 30-some others.
Yes, after the rain-drenched and postponed event at Atlanta was finally completed Tuesday, we stand at the precipice of what everyone has been racing for in the first 25 events of the season:
To make the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
With all but three spots locked up for the Chase, Saturday's final qualifier at Richmond will be both anticlimactic and exciting nonetheless. As we prepare for Saturday's festivities, only three positions are not solidified:
Ninth, currently occupied by Dale Earnhardt Jr.;
10th, occupied by Tony Stewart;
and the second of two wild card entries, of which four drivers still have a shot at a miracle including Denny Hamlin, Paul Menard, Marcos Ambrose and David Ragan.
Looking at the standings, it would appear Hamlin has the best shot at earning the last wild card spot, given that he's currently in 12th place, right behind Brad Keselowski, who has locked up at least one of the two wild card positions, if not potentially cracking into the top-10 with a strong showing at Richmond.
This is where things get real interesting.
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