Clint Bowyer remains confident he will secure his place in this year's NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase for the Championship on Saturday night at Richmond.
The Richard Childress Racing driver is the only one inside the top 12 in the standings whose place in the Chase is not set yet despite a reasonable gap to Ryan Newman, who ranks 13th in the points. The top 10 are already locked in, while 11th-placed Greg Biffle just needs to finish 42nd or lead a lap in order to mathematically secure his place in the playoffs.
Bowyer needs to finish 28th or better this weekend to grab the final spot in the Chase, without having to rely on the results of Newman and Earnhardt Ganassi's Jamie McMurray, who still has a mathematical, yet slim chance of beating his RCR rival to 12th place.
"With a 117-point lead, whatever it is, that is a pretty good pad," said Bowyer. "We've just got to go out, with any luck at all, we'll be in this thing. If we're not, I'd say it was not meant to be. This is an important racetrack for us. It is one of my best race tracks."
For his part Newman refused to get caught up in the mathematics of the points and said he will regard Saturday's race the same as any other. His only real chance to grab a last-minute Chase opportunity would come if Bowyer hit trouble but Newman would still need to get a top finish in order to profit from it.
"I don't know what has to happen but I know that I'm just going to do my best, try my hardest and where we end up is where we end up," Newman said. "Just like I said last week, I can't expect to make it up in two races, I can't expect to make it up in one race, I try my best and if the math works and success happens so be it."
If Bowyer makes the Chase, Richard Childress Racing would be the only outfit with all its drivers in the championship playoff. Last year none of the RCR drivers were in contention for the title and Bowyer is confident that this year his squad has a legitimate shot at bringing Jimmie Johnson's title streak to an end. He reckons however that he needs to get more solid finishes in order to match his teammate Kevin Harvick, who leads the standings heading into the final race of the regular season.
"You look at our performance all year long at RCR, it has been very good," said Bowyer. "These racetracks, if you look at just the 33 car, within these last 10 races, we've run well at the first time around at most of them. Actually ran in the top five.
"What we've got to get better at is getting the finish like my teammate Kevin Harvick has. He's done a great job at showing the potential of RCR cars all season long. If Jeff [Burton] and I can match his success early in these last 10 races and put it together for 10 races, we're going to have a shot at winning the championship at RCR."
Bowyer has been in the Chase twice, finishing third in the championship in 2007 after claiming his first Sprint Cup win in the first race of the playoff series.