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Green Flag: Patrick posts milestone performance

By By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service
Published On: Sep 01 2014 08:19:21 PM CDT
Updated On: Sep 02 2014 09:24:56 AM CDT
Danica Patrick file photo

John Sommers II/Reuters

Distributed by The Sports Xchange

All but lost among the Chase implications at Atlanta Motor Speedway was a milestone performance by Danica Patrick.

The driver of the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet lost a lap early but took advantage of a free pass under a Lap 116 caution for Ryan Truex's spin off Turn 4.

From that point, Patrick made steady progress toward the front of the field. When the race restarted after caution on lap 302 of a scheduled 325, she was ninth.

When the race went to overtime, she dodged a multicar wreck moments after a restart on Lap 328 and eventually rolled home sixth. Not only was that the best finish of Patrick's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career, eclipsing her seventh-place run at Kansas earlier this year, but it also matched the best finish by a female driver in NASCAR's so-called modern era (since 1971).

Before Sunday night's Oral-B USA 500, Janet Guthrie alone held that distinction on the strength of a sixth-place finish at Bristol in 1977. Now Patrick shares it.

Despite the stellar result at Atlanta, it would be a mistake to get your hopes too high with respect to

Patrick's winning chances on Saturday night at Richmond. Patrick will have to improve drastically at the .75-mile short track to have a shot at a checkered flag.

Patrick's best finish in three starts at Richmond is 29th, four laps down.

Then again, before Sunday night, her best effort at Atlanta had been a 21st.

@nascarcasm

Lots of folks discussing how hot it was in Atlanta on race day. SUDDENLY we don't hear much complaining about next year's early March date now -- DO WE?

Kevin Harvick won the pole for the Atlanta race, making it his SIXTH of the 2014 season. That's why they call him "The Closer"! Actually nevermind -- that doesn't apply whatsoever.

(Follow @nascarcasm on Twitter. His unique views on NASCAR are his own -- but chances are you have probably figured that out by now.)

NASCAR NUMBERS

By Reid Spencer

950: The number of laps led by Tony Stewart in 30 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Richmond International Raceway. That's far and away the most among drivers who enter the Saturday night's Federated Auto Parts 400 without a victory this season.

19: The number of winless drivers who have not already clinched a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup but still have a mathematical chance to do so. Ryan Newman and Greg Biffle are the two drivers likely to earn a spot on points. Realistically, the other 17 must win at Richmond to have a shot.

195: The number of laps led on Sunday night at Atlanta by polesitter Kevin Harvick, whose winning chances were wiped out in a multicar wreck on the first attempt at a green-white-checkered-flag finish. Harvick finished 19th after dominating much of the race.

36.158: In seconds, the average time on pit road for Denny Hamlin, best among NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers in Sunday night's race at Atlanta. Hamlin and teammate Matt Kenseth (second best at 36.505 seconds on average) consistently beat Kevin Harvick out of the pits, forcing Harvick to start in the outside lane where grip was in short supply. Ultimately, that proved to be Harvick's undoing.

18: The finish Ryan Newman needs to achieve at Richmond in order to clinch a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. If he leads a lap, Newman can lock himself in with a finish of 19th. If he leads the most laps, he can run 20th. Newman's average finish at the .75-mile short track is 11.3.

NASCAR NOTES

Two spots in the Chase remain up for grabs after Kasey Kahne (win) and Matt Kenseth (points) clinched berths in NASCAR's postseason at Atlanta. Barring a collapse, Ryan Newman will lock up the 15th position in the Chase where he sits 43 points in front of the cutoff line. Greg Biffle holds a cushy 23-point lead over Clint Bowyer for the final spot, but could be bumped by a first time winner. With two previous victories at Richmond, Bowyer is a prime candidate to play the spoiler. ... All four of Hendrick Motorsports' drivers are in the Chase following Kasey Kahne's first-place finish at Atlanta. On the season, Hendrick racers boast 10 victories: a series-leading three a piece from Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson, and one by Kahne. Additionally, Gordon and Earnhardt sit 1-2 in the points standings while Johnson ranks sixth. Going into the Chase, the four will attempt to add a 12th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship to Hendrick's record collection. ... While Richmond presents a clinch opportunity for a new winner, it also can provide Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup bonus points for repeat victors. Under the new Chase rules, drivers earn three bonus for every win prior to the start of the postseason. At the moment the drivers entering the Chase with bonus points include: Gordon, Earnhardt Jr., Logano, Keselowski, Johnson (9); Edwards, Harvick (6); Kahne, Kyle Busch, Hamlin, Amirola, Kurt Busch, Allmendinger (3). The pressure is on for winless and one-win drivers to decrease the gap, while the multi-race winners can enter the Chase with an even greater advantage.

Tune-In: NASCAR On Television, September 1-7

Monday, September 1

5 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1

5 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network

5:30 p.m., NASCAR's The List: Legendary Drivers (re-air), NBC Sports Network

Tuesday, September 2

5 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1

5 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network

6:30 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub (re-air), FOX Sports 2

7:30 p.m., The 10 Earnhardt Moments (re-air), FOX Sports 2

Wednesday, September 3

4:30 p.m., NASCAR America Future Stars (re-air), NBC Sports Network

5 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1

5 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network

6:30 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub (re-air), FOX Sports 2

Thursday, September 4

5 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1

5 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network

6:30 p.m., NASCAR Race Hub (re-air), FOX Sports 2

Friday, September 5

1 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Practice, ESPN2

3:30 p.m., NASCAR Nationwide Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, ESPN2

5 p.m., NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network

5:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, ESPN2

7 p.m., NNS Countdown, ESPN2

7:30 p.m., NASCAR Nationwide Series Race at Richmond, ESPN2

Saturday, September 6

10 a.m., NASCAR Race Hub Special (re-air), FOX Sports 1

11 a.m., NASCAR K&N Pro Series Race at Kern, FOX Sports 1

6 p.m., NASCAR RaceDay, FOX Sports 2

7 p.m., NSCS Countdown, ABC

7:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race at Richmond, ABC

7:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race at Richmond, ESPN Deportes

3:30 a.m. (Sun.), NASCAR Victory Lane, FOX Sports 1

3:30 a.m. (Sun.), NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race at Richmond (re-air), ESPN2

Sunday, September 7

9 a.m., NASCAR Victory Lane (re-air), FOX Sports 1

10:30 p.m., NASCAR's The List: Dale Earnhardt Sr. Moments (re-air), NBC Sports Network

11 p.m., NASCAR's The List: Tracks (re-air), NBC Sports Network

National Series Schedule

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES

The Next Race:

Federated Auto Parts 400

The Place:

Richmond International Raceway

The Date/Time:

Saturday, Sep. 6, 7:30 p.m. (ET)

TV: ABC

Radio: MRN Radio,

Sirius XM Channel 90

NASCAR NATIONWIDE SERIES

The Next Race:

Virginia 529 College Savings 250

The Place:

Richmond International Raceway

The Date/Time:

Friday, Sep. 5, 7:30 p.m. (ET)

TV: ESPN 2

Radio: MRN,

Sirius XM Channel 90

NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES

The Next Race:

Lucas Oil 225

The Place:

Chicagoland Speedway

Date/Time:

Friday, Sep. 12, 8:30 p.m. (ET)

TV: FOX Sports 1

Radio: MRN, Sirius XM Channel 90

NASCAR National Series Standings

This year, wins matter more than in any season in the 65-year history of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Essentially, a win locks a driver into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Currently there are 13 different winners. The remainder of the 16-driver Chase Grid will be filled by those drivers highest in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points. See below for how the current Chase Grid would look if NASCAR's playoffs began today:

Chase Grid Outlook

Pos Driver Wins

1 Jeff Gordon 3

2 Dale Earnhardt Jr.3

3 Joey Logano 3

4 Brad Keselowski 3

5 Jimmie Johnson 3

6 Carl Edwards 2

7 Kevin Harvick 2

8 Kasey Kahne 1

9 Kyle Busch 1

10 Denny Hamlin 1

11 Kurt Busch 1

12 Aric Almirola 1

13 AJ Allmendinger 1

14 Matt Kenseth 0

15 Ryan Newman 0

16 Greg Biffle 0

NASCAR Nationwide Series

Pos Driver Points

1 Chase Elliott # 874

2 Regan Smith 859

3 Ty Dillon # 839

4 Elliott Sadler 826

5 Brian Scott 820

6 Trevor Bayne 803

7 Chris Buescher # 713

8 Brendan Gaughan 694

9 Ryan Reed # 658

10 James Buescher 646

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Pos Driver Points

1 Johnny Sauter 524

2 Matt Crafton 517

3 Ryan Blaney 511

4 Darrell Wallace Jr.486

5 German Quiroga 476

6 Ron Hornaday Jr. 460

7 Joey Coulter 456

8 Timothy Peters 448

9 Ben Kennedy # 441

10 Jeb Burton 420

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