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Head2Head: Will the final wild card come via points or a win?

September 03, 2012, ,

Will the final wild card be determined by a win or points?


If you're betting on a driver to upend the Chase-field apple cart Saturday at Richmond, forget it.

Take the points.

Sure, Kyle Busch is in the driver's seat for the second and final wild card. And yes, he can win at Richmond. He's done just that in four of the past seven Cup races there.

But Busch doesn't have to push. All he needs to do is race smart and stay out of trouble.

If calamity should strike, Jeff Gordon is realistically the only driver with one victory and a shot to unseat Busch for the final Chase spot. If he does, it will be by scoring more points, not by winning. Gordon, who trails Busch by 12 points, saw his best chance at that disappear when Denny Hamlin held him off at Atlanta . Besides, Gordon hasn't been much of a threat at Richmond -- where his last win came in 2000. He was 23rd there in April.

Two more reasons a win won't be the determining factor: Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson.

Hamlin is hot and has won two of the past six races at Richmond. Johnson has three wins in 11 races there. They and others -- Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick -- are too good at the track for something magical to happen.

Newman won once at Richmond -- in 2003. Carl Edwards is winless at Richmond in 16 attempts. Ambose and Logano have each managed one top-five there in seven career starts.

So, take the points, young man.

Seth Livingstone, Special to NASCAR.COM

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

It has been said that winning is everything and, well, whoever said it was right. This weekend at Richmond will prove that once again. Because the drivers on the fringe of making this Chase are going out guns-a-blazing, and they are too talented a group to not have one of them go harder than everyone else and win their way in.

Plus, the stats don't lie.

Three of the five drivers with one win mixing it up for the last wild-card spot have won up at RIR, including the odds-on pick Mr. Kyle Busch. The younger Busch bro has just dominated at Richmond, winning four times in four seasons. Busch has found his way to Victory Lane at Richmond in every other race at the track since the start of the 2009 season, and could drive a donkey with a busted back and get a checkered there.

The group of drivers fighting for the Chase wild cards have won three of the last seven races overall, and have put together strong runs week-in and week-out down the stretch. Don't expect that to stop when the cards are all on the table for the taking at Richmond.

Sure, there are going to be 40 cars out there all trying to win a race under the lights of Richmond. But there are about five guys who want that thing just a little bit more than everyone else -- and they are winners, boy, winners all (that is except Carl Edwards).

And one of those guys is going home the big winner on Saturday evening.

Nick Margiasso, NASCAR.COM

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

Well, it's finally crunch time. After all the drama, the talk and the moaning, the Chase is on the doorstep. One more race and it will be set and settled for NASCAR's unique "postseason." But who will it be? Who will lock up the crucial fiinal wild-card spot behind Mr. Kasey Kahne? There are a lot of guys jockeying for that position and have been for a while, but no one has cemented this thing. So, that begs the question: Will the final wild card be determined by a win or points? Seth Livingstone and Nick Margiasso are on opposite sides of the spectrum. Read their arguments and weigh in with your own in the comments below.