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NASCAR At Richmond: Carl Edwards Leads, David Ragan Into Chase Contention

Since he joined the Sprint Cup Series in 2007, David Ragan has always seemed to have a knack for racing at Richmond International Raceway. Until this spring, his best career finish was a third at Richmond in his rookie year of 2007.  He of course improved on that with a second in the Coca-Cola 600 this past May and then won the Coke Zero 400 in July.

That win has Ragan in position to potentially make the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship with less than 130 laps remaining. He needs help to have it happen however, as it requires Brad Keselowski - who runs third, one spot ahead of Ragan in the current running order - to displace either Tony Stewart or Dale Earnhardt Jr. from the top-10 in the standings and open up the wild card spot Keselowski had already clinched entering this week.

Carl Edwards assumed the lead just past the halfway point from Kevin Harvick and has been dominant since. He leads Roush-Fenway Racing teammate Greg Biffle, followed by Keselowski, Ragan, and Kurt Busch.

Busch was spun intentionally by Jimmie Johnson to draw the race's most recent yellow as payback for an earlier incident in the race. Johnson is currently 32nd, 33 laps in arrears to Edwards.

The best performance of the night may well belong to Stephen Leicht, a former development driver for what was Robert Yates Racing. Leicht picked up a Nationwide win at Kentucky in 2007, but the team lost its sponsorship after that season and Leicht had spent the last few years largely on the sidelines. His second-career Sprint Cup start, in Tommy Baldwin's No. 36 Chevrolet, has been a quiet success as he is show in the 14th position.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.