Now that he’s clinched a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, along with two of his teammates, Tony Stewart is hoping to get his team’s other driver into the 16-driver playoff.

Stewart, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch will represent Stewart-Haas Racing in the Chase, which begins next week at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois. A win tonight at Richmond, Virginia, also would put Danica Patrick in the Chase.

“We’re excited with three drivers in the Chase this year,” Stewart said in a news release. “You figure, there are 16 spots in the Chase, and we’ve almost got 25 percent of the spots with SHR. So we’re proud as an organization to be in that scenario. A lot of the organizations would love to have one car, let alone three, in the deal. Danica has one more shot to get in there (today) at Richmond. If she could do that, it would make for a heck of year for SHR.”

Stewart, who has announced that this will be his final year on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit, likely will be racing at Richmond for the final time. The Columbus native earned the first of his 49 career Sprint Cup wins on Sept. 11, 1999, at Richmond.

At the time, that was the first win by a rookie in 12 years.

“That was probably the coolest moment in my career in NASCAR,” Stewart said.

Stewart has six wins at Richmond, including three Sprint Cup victories. He’s won two in the Camping World Truck Series and one in a Late Model car.

In 34 Sprint Cup races, Stewart has 11 top-five finishes and 19 top-10s and has led a total of 950 laps. He calls Richmond his favorite track.

“I’ve always felt like Richmond was the ultimate drivers’ track,” Stewart said. “When we didn’t have all the downforce like we do now, you used to literally move around the racetrack. You didn’t get stuck in one groove. You could be fast there running two or three different ways, using three different lines. You could do what you needed to do to complement your car or not hurt it. That’s what I have always liked about it. It’s always going to be my favorite track.”

At a glance


Federated Auto Parts 400, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

Starting position: (qualifying Friday)


Finished 35th in Bojangles Southern 500


Last race: 6 points

Season total: 426 points (27th)

Current position on Chase grid: 12th

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5628.