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NASCAR Federated Auto Parts 400 Preview


Denny Hamlin celebrates his second 2012 win at Kansas - NASCAR photo

Denny Hamlin celebrates his second 2012 win at Kansas - NASCAR photo

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With one race left to go before the Chase for the Championship begins, NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series heads to the three-quarter mile oval in Richmond, Virginia for a Saturday night showdown under the lights.

Denny Hamlin comes into Richmond with back-to-back victories earned in Atlanta and in Bristol, bringing his total wins for the season to four. As NASCAR's website points out, Hamlin has a history of doing well at Richmond in September, and is guaranteed a spot in this year’s Chase for the Championship.

Hamlin’s teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing, Kyle Busch, has also done consistently well in Richmond, racking up a win there in April. Kyle Busch is fighting for a wild card Chase berth, so expect him to drive with a renewed sense of purpose on Saturday night.

Also looking for some wild card love is Hendrick Motorsports’ Kasey Kahne, whose two victories this season (compared to Kyle Busch’s one) give him a five point lead in the standings. Jeff Gordon currently sits in 13th position, points-wise, but it’s never a good idea to count him out at Richmond.

Tony Stewart, who sits on the bubble between a guaranteed spot in the chase and a wild card spot, will be driving with intent as well. Don’t expect Smoke to hold back on Saturday night, which should make for some interesting rubbing-is-racing action.

Complicating things even further is that Saturday night’s forecast calls for rain, which could mean a shortened (or even postponed) race. With so much on the line for so many drivers, we’re sure it won’t lack drama.
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