RICHMOND, Va. – NASCAR will have a new champion this year, as the 12-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship will go on without Brad Keselowski.
Keselowski, the 2012 champ, failed to make the 10-race Chase on Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway, where an ill-timed caution contributed to his 17th-place finish in a field of 43.
The Federated Auto Parts 400 was won by Carl Edwards, who darted past Paul Menard on a restart with three laps remaining.
Greg Biffle of Vancouver, Wash., earned one of the 10 automatic Chase berths based on season points. He finished 12th in the race and is seventh in points.
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Kasey Kahne of Enumclaw already was assured of at least one of the two wild-card berths in the Chase because he has two victories this season. Kahne was 14th in the race and filled a wild-card berth, with the other going to Martin Truex Jr.
Kurt Busch finished second to make Furniture Row Racing the first single-car organization to be part of the Chase.
“Well, how about them apples? Unbelievable,” Busch said.
Ryan Newman was third in the race, but it wasn’t enough to make the Chase. He had it in hand after passing Edwards for the lead with 10 laps to go. Then Clint Bowyer spun to bring out a caution, most of the field pitted and Newman came off pit road in fifth for the last restart.
The benefactor of Bowyer’s spin was Truex, his teammate at Michael Waltrip Racing.
Conspiracy theorists accused Bowyer of spinning on purpose to help Truex.
Bowyer denied any wrongdoing and said he simply lost the handling on his car. He said it was no different than Jimmie Johnson, who hit the wall earlier in the race to bring out a caution that jumbled the field and ultimately ruined Keselowski’s Chase bid.
“My car was tight as hell,” Bowyer said.
The six drivers ahead of Biffle in points are Matt Kenseth, Johnson, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Edwards and Joey Logano.
Bowyer is eighth in points, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is ninth and Kurt Busch 10th.
Keselowski is 16th in points and winless this year.
“We weren’t good enough to make it, and we didn’t. That is the reality,” he said. “We have work to do. At the end of the day, the thing about points is it is the best measuring stick in sports.”
|Chase field set|
|Here are the 12 drivers in the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship.|
|Matt Kenseth||No.20 Toyota||2,015|
|Jimmie Johnson||No. 48 Chevrolet||2,012|
|Kyle Busch||No. 18 Toyota||2,012|
|Kevin Harvick||No. 29 Chevrolet||2,006|
|Carl Edwards||No. 99 Ford||2,006|
|Joey Logano||No. 22 Ford||2,003|
|Greg Biffle||No. 16 Ford||2,003|
|Clint Bowyer||No. 15 Toyota||2,000|
|Dale Earnhardt Jr.||No. 88 Chevrolet||2,000|
|Kurt Busch||No. 78 Chevrolet||2,000|
|Kasey Kahne||No. 5 Chevrolet||2,000|
|Martin Truex Jr.||No. 56 Toyota||2,000|
|Chase field set|
|Here are the 12 drivers in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship.|