The Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway (RIR) closed the first 26 races of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) season and set the field for the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in dramatic fashion. Team Chevy captured four of the top-5 finishing spots at RIR, and locked-in two additional Chevrolet SS drivers for the championship run.
After a round of pit stops and various strategies on tires, both the race and Chase field were decided on a final restart with three laps remaining. Kurt Busch, in his No. 78 Furniture Row/Beautyrest Chevrolet SS, came away with a second place finish after leading five times for 73 laps in tonight's race. The finish put the single-car team from Denver, Colorado in the Chase for the first time.
Ryan Newman, No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS, led late in the race but had to settle for third place at the finish line. Newman's sixth top-five finish of the season was not enough to land a spot in the Chase. He leaves RIR 14th in the overall point standings.
Jamie McMurray, driver of the No. 1 Cessna Chevrolet SS, had a strong car all night and led six laps before finishing in fourth place. McMurray, who had an outside shot at a Chase berth, came away with his second top-five finish of the season. Paul Menard had the lead on the final restart, but had to settle for fifth in his No. 27 Menards/Pittsburgh Paints Chevrolet SS. It was his second top-five finish and seventh top-10 finish of 2013.
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevy SS, was in the spotlight throughout the 400-lap race as he bounced on and off the Chase bubble many times throughout the night. His eighth-place finish left him just a single point out of the Chase and 13th in points overall. Mark Martin, still subbing for the injured Tony Stewart in the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS, was ninth at the finish.
Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet SS, Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, and Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Farmers Chevrolet SS had secured Chase positions leading into tonight's event. Dale Earnhardt Jr, No. 88 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet SS, who finished 13th, joined Kurt Busch as Chevrolet drivers who earned positions in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with their performance at RIR.