NASCAR: Live from Richmond

Win And In

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Keselowski unstoppable on march to pole

By K. Lee Davis

RICHMOND, Va. -- How dominant was Brad Keselowski's run to the pole at Richmond International Raceway on Friday?

The track was empty with three minutes to go in final qualifying as driver after driver shook his head over Keselowski's lap at 126.618 mph on the three-quarter-mile oval.

Several drivers eventually took a shot at Keselowski before qualifying time ended, but all came up short.

Jeff Gordon qualified second, with Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano rounding out the top five.

Keselowski's next goal is to take the lead as the Chase begins by becoming the first driver to four victories.

"This is just practice and qualifying here today and we are happy with the result but still very hungry and looking forward to tomorrow night and keeping our eye on the prize in front of us, but also as the next few weeks develop and unfold a shot at another championship." he said.

Larson looking for next step as rookie

By K. Lee Davis

RICHMOND, Va. -- Rookie Kyle Larson has had a good season by most measures, but two desired accomplishments have yet to be checked off. The first among those goals -- winning a Sprint Cup race -- would take care of the second -- making the Chase -- if he can do it here tomorrow night in the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway at  7:30 p.m. ET, ABC.

And it may not seem so far-fetched when you take into account he started on the pole here in April and finished on the lead lap (16th) despite brushing the wall on the first lap of the race. If you can hang around at Richmond, good things can happen.

"We were on the pole last time," he said. "We got in the wall the first lap and kind of messed up our splitter. I don't really know where we stood in the race.

"But we had a good test here a couple of months ago. I feel like I'm starting to get the hang of this track. Hopefully we can get a win. That is pretty much our only hope right now, unless [Greg] Biffle has an absolutely horrible night, we are going to have to get a win.

"It is nice knowing what you have to do I guess before the race starts. Just got to be aggressive and get all you can. If we get a win, it will be amazing, if we can get in the Chase, it will be pretty cool."

Getting ahead of Biffle may not be enough, either. Larson is currently 18th in points, one behind Clint Bowyer and 24 behind Biffle. At 43 behind 15th-place Ryan Newman, it is all but impossible for Larson to catch him without winning, making it nearly moot.

So the first task is to run up front. The second is to stay there and get the victory. Will that mean more aggressive driving?

"I don't know it's kind of hard to say, but for me I guess there might be a little bit of less give and take this time around just because you need to be as far forward as you can be in the race," he said "Like I said, it's hard to say. I could sit here and say I will be more aggressive and all that, but I really don't know.

"But, yeah, I mean when it comes down to the end of the race, I'm going to definitely try to get all I can get."

What they're tweeting ...

By K. Lee Davis

Poll: Who will make the Chase? A) @RyanJNewman B) @gbiffle C) @ClintBowyer D) @KyleLarsonRacin E) OTHER pic.twitter.com/hPI7vXI9yW

Whatcha talkin bout? @DennyHamlin @KyleBusch #nascar #VA529 #rva pic.twitter.com/wavRZi3lO5

. @keselowski lands on his career-best fourth pole of the year. Will lead field to green tmrw night @RIRInsider pic.twitter.com/ySFFdeN064

Edwards' crew chief Fennig to retire

By K. Lee Davis

We know this is Carl Edwards' last season at Roush Fenway Racing. What we may not have known is this will apparently be Jimmy Fennig's last season atop the pit box.

Edwards said Friday that Fennig told him this was going to be it.

"Yeah he mentioned something about it in the window last week before the race started and I asked if he was serious and he says he is serious," Edwards said. "He says this is his last year crew chiefing. I don't know how that is supposed to make me feel that after all the drivers I am the guy that ran him off into retirement.

"I guess I can be that difficult.

"I really feel honored to work with Jimmy Fennig. He is amazing. He is 61 years old and works as hard as anyone I have ever seen. Hopefully we can get him some more wins and a championship this year, that would be really cool."

And Edwards is trying to keep last year's summer win at Richmond in perspective while he's at it.

"A year ago we won the race and then finished last in the Chase, so I am not a big believer in the momentum thing," he said. "At the end of the day the opportunity for us to go get three points [bonus leading into the Chase] could make or break our whole season.

"If we have a shot to win we have to go win the race. I know how tough Chicago, Loudon and Dover will be and if we miss the cut by two points and had an opportunity to win this race it would be hard to sleep on that. I think we've got a car that could potentially win. I love this place and if we have a shot at it I don't see any reason why we shouldn't race as hard as humanly possible to get it."

Podcast: Marty & McGee

By K. Lee Davis

Marty Smith and Ryan McGee talk about their Labor Day weekends, recap Week 1 of the college football season and look ahead to this weekend's race at Richmond. Listen Listen

Kahne taking nothing for granted

By K. Lee Davis

Fresh off his victory last week at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Kasey Kahne still isn't convinced he's all the way back.

He's hoping Richmond provides a little more clarity before the Chase starts next Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway.

"This weekend means a lot to me in trying to figure out if we're ready as a team -- if we can put another full race together, work hard all night long and make the right decisions to be there late in the race," he said. "So this weekend is very big for us in our preparation for Chicago.

"I was glad I went on our last off-weekend and ran for JR Motorsports at Chicagoland [in the Nationwide Series]. We ran fourth and I felt like we had a really good time and learned a lot about the track and the tire. Hopefully we can use some of that to help us when we get there."

Kahne won the first race of his career at Richmond in 2005. That was a long time ago, but the memory remains strong.

"So many things have changed since then for myself, for NASCAR, the racetrack itself and the tire," he said. "It's not even similar anymore. But it was a great night for us. I remember pretty clearly that getting that first win with Ray Evernham and our guys.

"We ran second a bunch prior to that. It was a big win for us. We had to beat Tony Stewart. It kind of came down to the end with a restart. I was able to clear him and drive away from then. We had a great car and ran up front most of the night. I feel like I was better at Richmond then than I am now."

Junior gets more from Nationwide

By K. Lee Davis

If you want to see what the future holds for Dale Earnhardt Jr., look no further than the paint scheme on his No. 88 Chevrolet SS this weekend.

NASCAR's most popular driver will be sporting livery from Nationwide Insurance, which also announced an expanded sponsorship role with him through the 2017 season.

Nationwide has expanded its sponsorship with the No. 88 for 21 races a season beginning with next year's Daytona 500.

"I know the people at Nationwide extremely well and truly appreciate how invested they are in our team and our sport," Earnhardt said in a team release. "It's extremely gratifying that they recognize so much value in the partnership and want to do more. Having this kind of support and seeing so many positive things happening around the team feels really good."

It will definitely help soften the blow of losing the Army National Guard as a sponsor. Although that sponsorship contract is scheduled to run through 2015, the Guard has made it clear they intend to terminate the deal at the end of this season.

A team release stated Hendrick Motorsports' position succinctly. "Representing the National Guard and its Citizen Soldiers is an extraordinary honor and source of pride for our entire organization. Communication is ongoing with regard to the future of the sponsorship, which is contracted through the 2015 season."

This & That

By K. Lee Davis

Our new @NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Garage entrance. Thanks for all you did for the sport, Junie! #nascar #rva pic.twitter.com/pvT2GfqyB2

KBM Employee Profile: Kicking the Tires w/ Greg Passen. Presented by @ADPCareers http://t.co/D6HtOyv862 pic.twitter.com/2DVa5E4Myf