NASCAR on NBC reporter and Top Gear host Rutledge Wood brings his talents to the RIR Stage for the Second Annual Post-Race Party presented by Outback
From Top Gear, to NBC and now to the RIR stage; entertaining and engaging NASCAR reporter Rutledge Wood will join Richmond International Raceway on September 12th as host of the Second Annual Post-Race Party, presented by Outback.

After the “Last Race to Make The Chase” sets the field for the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, fans are invited down on the track to celebrate with the 16 elite drivers who’s championship dreams are still alive. Be there as Wood brings the sports stars out one by one to the party on the pavement.

With new presenting sponsor, Outback Steakhouse, on board, RIR plans to ignite the night with all of the things that create the best party in NASCAR.

It’s hype. It’s loud. It’s NASCAR America meets Miami nightclub. It’s the first time fans will see all 16 drivers who get onto the Chase Grid. And it’s going to be bigger than last year.

Who will race their way into one of those final spots in the Chase, and who will be left on the outside looking in? Be there to make your allegiance known as they cross the Post-Race Party stage following the Federated Auto Parts 400 on Saturday September 12.

The desperation of the Last Race to Make the Chase, and the glory of the Post-Race Party. You’ve got to see it, so tune into the on track action and the post-race excitement on NBCSN; coverage starts at 7:00 p.m.!

We're often asked "so where can I run into a driver or two when they're in town for the race?" Well we won't make any guarantees, but we've put together a short list of local hot spots where you might be able to catch a glimpse of a driver or two on race week.

The Tobacco Company
In the heart of Richmond's Shockoe Slip, The Tobacco Company is where Victorian era elegance meets hopping Richmond nightlife (and a sweet happy hour). Located across from the Omni Richmond, visiting teams and drivers have this spot at the top of their dining to-do lists when visiting Virginia’s capital.

T-Millers Sports Bar & Grill
After a long day at the track, you can sometimes find industry folks winding down at T-Millers Sports Bar & Grill.  With its prime location at the foot of the Richmond Marriot, it’s the perfect spot for a nightcap before heading upstairs to rest up.

Rappahannock Restaurant 
Known for a massive raw bar with some killer oysters, this farm-to-fork joint has quickly become a favorite for locals and out-of-towners alike. When NASCAR rolls into RVA, some of the guys and gals can't resist throwing back a dozen or so oysters washed down with a local craft beer.

Dot’s Back Inn
Located just a couple miles from the track, Dot’s has been a Northside anchor for years. Guy Fieri even stopped by the local joint on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives in 2009. While the whole menu is excellent, Dot’s is the perfect brunch spot for Sunday morning before heading home.

Known to be an at-track hotspot, Lot F campers sure know how to throw a party in their home away from home. Friday night’s karaoke tradition brings over drivers and team members looking for a party. Michael Waltrip has stopped by a few times to throw back a beverage (or two) with some of the track’s friendliest fans. One thing's for sure, Lot F is always good for a good time. 

Where is your must-visit spot when you’re in Richmond? Leave it for us in the comments below!

Clint Bowyer has a lot at stake two with just races before the Chase. 
Racing for a spot in the Chase is one thing, it’s an entirely different thing to be racing for a job. With the absolution of MWR’s full-time team beginning in 2016, Clint Bowyer has more on the line than anyone else.

Clint’s numbers on the Road to Richmond aren’t pretty. In nine starts at Darlington, Bowyer’s found himself inside the Top 10 just once, and only at Atlanta (21.3) does he have a worse average finish than his 20.1 showing at the Lady in Black. 

Richmond has been a little kinder to ol’ Shifty. With two wins and the second-most Top 10 showings at any track, his odds of celebrating in RIR’s Victory Lane are certainly better than his odds in the Southern 500.

With only two weeks left until the 2015 Chase field is set, Richmond may be one of Clint’s last chances to impress next year’s boss. Pile on missing last year’s Chase by just six points, and you’ve got an even more determined (desperate?) driver hunting down that W.
A look at the current Chase Grid as we head into NASCAR's last off-week before the Chase:

With his win at Bristol, Joey Logano vaulted over Matt Kenseth and reigning Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick in the Chase Grid Standings. Ryan Newman and Paul Menard flipped spots in the points after 10th and 24th place finishes in Thunder Valley, respectively. 
We're pleased to have Track President Dennis Bickmeier contribute our first guest blog post
The Chase Grid. It’s more than just the final field for drivers who have a shot for NASCAR’s coveted title. It represents success, that your driver has raced their way into Victory Lane during NASCAR’s grueling regular season, or has raced well enough to remain among the point leaders after that season comes to a close in Richmond.

It also represents a chance, and that Road to Richmond is filled with those chances. Every race represents an opportunity for a driver to race their way onto the Chase Grid and secure their place in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Sure the likes of McMurray, Menard, Newman, Gordon and Bowyer are in for now, but those on the outside looking in can score a win in two weeks at Darlington or in the Last Race to Make the Chase at RIR on September 12. Not even Jeff Gordon is safe yet – no doubt he’ll be fighting harder than anyone to prolong his final NASCAR season.

Ever since The Chase was born in 2004, our September event has been “The Last Race to Make the Chase.” But when the Chase Grid was born last year and winning meant everything, what did it mean for Richmond International Raceway?

Everything. It means everything. It all comes down to Richmond.

When the checkered flag falls for the Federated Auto Parts 400, 16 drivers will officially have their name on the official Chase Grid. As it stands today, five spots are still up in the air. There will be a lot of drama over the next few weeks as the on track action heats up and the pressure to win becomes even fiercer.

It all culminates in Richmond, the cut-off race before NASCAR’s 10-race playoff kicks off in Chicagoland. Who’s in and who’s out, you’ll want to join us in Richmond to find out.

And when the field is set, join us on the track for our Post Race Party and celebrate the 16 drivers who qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship. It’s a unique opportunity in our sport, unlike the ‘stick and ball sports.’ All the competitors with a chance to compete for the Sprint Cup championship in the same place at the same time. It’s a celebration of their accomplishments over the first 26 races and an opportunity to blow off some steam and then get ready for the Chase, and our Post Race Party is we put you right into the action.

Everyone with a ticket to the race can come down on the track after the race to celebrate with the drivers.

- Dennis Bickmeier
President, Richmond International Raceway
Kyle Busch will certainly be looking to add to his record 15 Bristol wins this weekend. 
After his injury caused him to miss out on both Bristol and Richmond’s spring races, you can be sure Kyle is itching to get back on a short track this weekend. Back in 2007-2012, you could have called Kyle the reigning King of Short Track Racing. He collected nine wins between RIR and BMS in those six years, including an NSCS sweep at Bristol in 2009 - and his 15 overall wins in Thunder Valley are more than any other driver in the track's history. However, the best he has done since then was a P2 finish at Bristol in the spring of 2013 – his last Top Ten finish at that track.

Don’t let Rowdy sneak up on you on Saturday night, though - It’s clear his standout summer gives his team tons of momentum heading into the weekend. Smart money says this former King is most definitely looking to reclaim his crown and firmly cement himself inside the top 30 in points.

Check out some of the sights from Kurt Busch's stop in Richmond yesterday, where he splashed around on the historic James River and zip lined across Richmond's Bell Isle with kids from the Passages Rock and River camp!

No one is more aware of the Road to Richmond’s stop in Bristol this weekend than Kasey Kahne. But after two consecutive finishes off the lead lap in Bristol, he needs the half-miler to cooperate on Saturday night. With four straight Top 10 finishes from 2012-2014, this is probably his best bet to snag his first win of the season and lock in a fourth straight Chase appearance. Fan girls (and maybe a few guys) are praying to see a flash of “Kase-Lightning” in Thunder Valley this weekend.

Recent history hasn’t been kind to Kasey at RIR. His only win at the track came back in 2005, which was his very first Sprint Cup Series win. But since Kasey joined Team Hendrick, he has found himself finishing in the Top 10 only twice. On the bright side, one of those Top 10s was this past April at the TOYOTA OWNERS 400. A solid warm-up at Bristol might just be what this driver needs to recapture glory in Richmond.

Darlington is a wild card for Kasey. Despite four poles there, his most at any track on the circuit, he’s without a win there in 12 races. If he can throw it back at Darlington all the way to his first CWTS win in 2004, he might stand a chance. Luck needs to be a “Lady in Black” if Kasey hopes to continue his season.

A few other names to keep in mind as the season makes it's way to Bristol this weekend.

With a Richmond win already on his 2015 resume, Kurt Busch tried to sneak in a a second checkered flag  before the rest of the NASCAR field returns in September. That was, until a couple of kids had something to say about it.

“Man they ambushed me!” said Busch. “It was a fun event, I thought, then it turns into a full-on race and they staged it to where they surrounded me and I couldn’t even get my paddle going.”

No it wasn’t a paddle-powered stock car. Kurt and the kids were out kayaking on the historic James River in advance of RIR’s upcoming race weekend September 10-12.

“It was a perfect ambush,” he chuckled. “They’re like ‘Yeah our plan worked,’ and I’m here thinking 'What plan!'”

Busch and Richmond International Raceway came out to the Passages Rock and River camp on the James, where the defending TOYOTA OWNERS 400 champ made the rounds across Richmond’s famous Belle Isle. In addition to splashing around in a kayak, Busch took to the air with some zip line action across the island's quarry.

“I'd been coming to Richmond for 15 years, and I haven't been able to do something like (kayaking or zip-lining) here,” said Busch. "It's fun to jump in and do some outdoorsy things like that,"

And as much fun as the No. 41 driver had on the river, Kurt is looking forward to coming back to RIR in September for the Last Race to Make the Chase, the 2015 Federated Auto Parts 400.

“There’s some of those races that slip through your fingers and you want them back. Richmond’s done that to me over the years,” said Busch. “I always get excited about coming here, going for that win. It’s a perfect type of cut-off scenario, whether you’re in or you’re out Richmond’s the short track where you gotta let it all hang out.”

Here's a look at how things stand with just three races left until the 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Matt Kenseth’s Michigan victory bumped him up with one more win over Kevin Harvick. Jeff Gordon fell behind Ryan Newman after his lackluster 17th place finish. Clint Bowyer’s day ended with a disappointing wreck on lap 125, but he remains on The Chase bubble, for now.

Brad Keselowski has racked up 17 wins at 12 different tracks in his NASCAR Sprint Cup career, but a victory at his hometown track has always alluded the Rochester Hills native.

But after stringing together three consecutive Top 10's, including a sixth place showing in the Irish Hills back in June, things might be coming together for Keselowski as he prepares for the Pure Michigan 400 this weekend.

With his lone win on the season coming back in March at Fontana, an inaugural trip to his hometown Victory Lane could give the Penske driver some needed momentum heading into the 2015 Chase.

Fun fact! Jeff’s made The Chase ten out of eleven times since it began in 2004 (only missing 2005). History alone says he has a solid chance to secure his tenth consecutive Chase appearance, especially since nearly 20% of his career Sprint Cup wins have come from these next four tracks.

Where do you think Jeff has the best chance to secure a win on the Road to Richmond?

Welcome to the Road To Richmond
The Road to Richmond is winding down, as are the chances for drivers to race their way into The Chase.
Hot off the presses, our brand new blog is your first stop for all things fun AND informative. We’re not a news outlet – and we won’t pretend to be – but we can promise to highlight interesting storylines and exciting content happening NOW in our sport.

Together, we’ll journey the Road to Richmond; each week we’ll take a hard look at the drivers who need a win to lock in their spot in the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Can they make it happen before the checkered flag drops at the Federated Auto Parts 400? They better hope so.

Drivers like Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer, Tony Stewart, and last year’s surprise contender, Ryan Newman, could be relying on a Richmond win to further their 2015 season. Tony Stewart’s last Richmond win came in 2002, but Clint Bowyer might just have what it takes to conquer America’s Premier Short Track. Kasey Kahne’s best bet is probably at Bristol – he holds the qualifying record at Darlington, but has never snagged a win there. And will history help or hurt Jeff Gordon?

Follow along with us as the Road to Richmond unfolds!
Jeff’s empty win column looms large with only four races to go before The Chase field is set.
It’s no secret – Jeff’s final full season hasn’t gone quite according to plan. With no wins at any of his top tracks so far this year, his fans are starting to bite their nails. Fear not, Gordon Nation, for the future NASCAR Hall of Famer has a history of success at three of the remaining four races on the regular season schedule. First up – Michigan International Speedway. Jeff is the defending Pure Michigan 400 champ, plus his three wins and record Top 10 finishes (27) at MIS make him the clear favorite in the Irish Hills.

Jeff’s got a lot of work to do between now and Richmond. He's not without success at America's Premier Short Track - two career wins and a pair of second place finishes in 2014 - however his last win at the track came 15 years ago this September. In other words, his last Richmond trophy is nearly old enough to get its Learner’s Permit. We all know the "The Kid" responds well to pressure, but there's no doubt that’s a headache he'd like to avoid. Suffice to say, he’s going to be in a tough spot if he waits until the last minute to get on the Grid.

Sandwiched between this weekend's contest in Brooklyn and The Last Race to Make the Chase are Bristol and Darlington. With 12 wins between the two tracks, Jeff seems poised to make a big move over the next three weeks. You can bet all eyes are on Jeff Gordon this weekend as the Road to Richmond races into Pure Michigan.

Here's a look at a few others who need a win to secure their spot in The Chase.