June 3, 2012; Dover, DE, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jeff Gordon (24) drives in front of Kyle Busch (18) during the FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-US PRESSWIRE

Gordon vs. Busch for Final Chase Spot

Gordon and Busch have to lay it all on the line at Richmond this weekend to capture the final Chase spot. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-US PRESSWIRE

Jeff Gordon would love nothing more than to take home his second win of the season at Richmond this weekend, as it would most likely put him into the Chase for the eighth time in nine seasons. Of course, that means he’d probably be knocking Kyle Busch out of the Chase, something that the driver affectionately known as “Rowdy”, wouldn’t take too well.

Situations like this mean that we can only be heading into the final race of NASCAR’s “regular season” at Richmond International Raceway and prepare to set the field of twelve drivers that will make up the Chase. Actually, almost all of the spots already have drivers who are guaranteed to make the Chase via the amount of points or wins they’ve accumulated so far in 2012. Really, there’s only one spot left up for grabs, and no offense to drivers such as Carl Edwards, Marcos Ambrose, Ryan Newman, and Joey Logano, but the final spot will go to either Busch or Gordon this weekend barring anything crazy.

Gordon already knows he missed a big opportunity last weekend at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, finishing second (barely) to Denny Hamlin, a driver who’s already locked into the Chase. That win would’ve most likely sewn up a Chase spot for Gordon, but instead he now has to either beat Busch by 12 points, roughly 12 spots on the track, or win to take that last spot.

Gordon said he regretted not putting the bumper to Hamlin at Atlanta last week, something he claimed he would’ve done years ago, but now blames it jokingly on his old age of 40. However, Gordon has already stated that he’ll do whatever it takes to win this weekend, which most likely would including wrecking Busch to win.

Busch is right there willing to do the same to Gordon if it is necessary as the race gets into the latter stages this weekend. Preferably though, Busch wants a tame and dull race because that means that Gordon doesn’t have a good enough car to put up a fight to overtake him.

It’s funny, these two drivers thinking this way makes it seem like they’ve switched minds for the weekend. What I mean is, Gordon is usually one for tame, cleaner racing that is hard fought, but still fair. And Busch, well, he’s been known to put his car in places that often wind up wrecking another car and sometimes himself in the process.

This battle that looks to be shaping up between these two this weekend has so much parody to it that it’s hard to miss. Their driving styles are different. Their attitudes are different. One’s old and in the waning years of his career, the other is in his prime. Hell, they even used to race on the same team at one point in time.

That fact of the matter, though, is that these are two of the most talented drivers in the sport, both of whom should deserve a Chase spot. The problem is, there’s only room for one. This race at Richmond is going to come down to the last lap between Gordon and Busch with a high possibility that one will end up wrecked.

In the words of NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton, “Boys, have at it”.

Tags: Denny Hamlin Jeff Gordon Kyle Busch NASCAR The Chase

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