10 September 2006
Harvick wins, champion Stewart misses cut.
Kevin Harvick sealed his place in the end-of-season Chase for the Championship with victory in the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond, but Chevrolet's evening was dampened by the news that reigning Nextel Cup champion Tony Stewart would miss the 2006 post-season after a last-race shake-up.
Ironically, Stewart's place in the Chase has gone to close friend Kasey Kahne, who finished third at Richmond to haul himself into the top ten.
Having won the Busch race on Friday, Harvick duly replicated Matt Kenseth's feat of winning both events on the same weekend, passing Kyle Busch with a couple of laps to go. Kahne, having started 20th, hauled his Dodge up to third place to give himself the bet shot of making the cut, while the top ten was completed by Dave Blaney, Greg Biffle, chase contenders Mark Martin and Jeff Burton, Ken Schrader, points leader Matt Kenseth and Scott Riggs.
Stewart, who had had to qualify and start in the spare #20 Home Depot machine after crashing his primary car in practice, battled from 40th on the grid, but eventually made it only as far as 18th, finishing the night 16 points behind Kahne.
Chase contenders Harvick, who started the night from fifth on the grid and third in points, was joined as race leader by Richard Childress Racing team-mate Burton, Kenseth and Busch, but other chase contenders had tougher evenings. Jimmie Johnson, fortunately already guaranteed a spot in the Chase after a stellar start to the year, tangled with Carl Edwards on lap 81, dropping him to the rear of the field and leaving him 23rd at the chequer.
At the halfway point, Kenseth, Johnson, Harvick, Busch, polesitter Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Jeff Gordon, Burton, Kahne and Stewart were in the ten Chase positions, but Martin refused to give up on his final chance to take the Cup crown, and battled back to sixth position, securing seventh spot in the championship. Earnhardt made the cut despite an anonymous night at Richmond, while Gordon, who missed the cut a year ago, squeezed into this year's Chase in ninth position after claiming a lowly 31st position in the race.
Kenseth retains the points lead heading to next weekend's first Chase round at New Hampshire.
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