The refrain is a popular one: “Are you ready for some football?” It’s particularly so during this time of year when the college football season has begun and the NFL season is no longer just peeking around the corner but preparing to make a full-on assault on football stadiums and television sets across the country. It’s a new season with new goals and high expectations in which anything can and will happen.
While the NFL season is just kicking off its 2012 season this week, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is gearing up for its version of the playoffs as it makes one more regular-season stop at one of its notorious short tracks. If NASCAR fans are ready for some short-track racing under the lights, then that is exactly what they will get this weekend with the running of the Federated Auto Parts 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. It is the 26th race of the year and its outcome will determine who’s in and who’s out of the ninth edition of the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship.
While the battle to make the Chase will be drawing to a close this Saturday night, there is still plenty on the line for all of the series competitors, whether it’s wins or building momentum over the final 10 races that will carry teams through the offseason in preparation for their 2013 campaigns.
Kurt Busch and the No. 51 Phoenix Construction Services Chevrolet team go into this Saturday night’s race at Richmond looking for a little redemption after a disappointing finish during the spring race at the .75-mile oval. Busch qualified 13th for that particular race and was making his way to the top-10 before a miscue on a pit stop dropped him deep in the field. There, he was caught up in an incident that altered the course of his entire race and left him with a 28th-place finish.
While Busch wouldn’t consider Richmond a personal favorite among the tracks visited by the Sprint Cup Series, he has been able to find success at the facility. In 23 career starts at the three-quarter-mile track, Busch has one win, four top-fives and seven top-10 finishes. Busch scored his lone Richmond victory in September 2005, and it was a victory that catapulted him into the second annual Chase for the Championship. He’s also been the model of consistency at Richmond, running at the end of each of his 23 Sprint Cup races there aside for one, which was the result of an accident during the track’s May race in 2010.
In addition to his record in Sprint Cup Series action, Busch goes into this weekend’s races having found success in the Nationwide Series as recently as April of this year. Competing for his brother’s Kyle Busch Motorsports team, Busch drove the No. 54 Monster Energy car to a win in his first Nationwide Series start at Richmond. Busch will try to make it a sweep of the Nationwide Series events at Richmond as he is set to drive the No. 54 car yet again this weekend.
A weekend of racing under the lights awaits NASCAR fans at Richmond and, with championship aspirations on the line, much drama could unfold. But whether you are in fact ready for some football or some short-track Saturday-night racing, the sports world will have everyone covered this weekend.