What more can a race fan ask for? The championship picture would be decided, the lights would shine bright, and the track everyone is racing on is less than a mile in length. It truly is the perfect setting at the perfect race track.
In the end, mostly everyone got what they wanted.
The drivers battling to just make the Chase had the best starting spots, drawing immediate attention. There was a single-car team trying to do the surprising, a proven champion that simply needed to win and be in, and the defending champion needing so many cards to fall his way just to try and defend the crown.
Meanwhile, the Chase drivers that were locked in had either mediocre nights, or in the case of Jimmie Johnson, horrible nights. Johnson's bad experience could be due to his mind focused on his newest addition to the family, but even with four wins the team knew work must be done in order to make a charge for a sixth title.
In the end, the single-car team would be the one making the Chase, while the other two that hoped to get in despite the best of intentions and effort, wound up short...in the case of Jeff Gordon, just one point short.
All the while, there was a race winner to mention, and Carl Edwards showed that in the late stages of the race, he could get the job done. He would hold off on the last restart to take his second win of the year, and first at Richmond.
As all the wins were tallied, a new face sat at the top of the standings. In the Pool, after 26 races, it would be Rob Tiongson that stood tall among his fellow writers. But, after 26 races, things have changed. With all the wins and all the bonus points added, the Fan Vs. Fan Writers Pool is reset, ready for the Chase. A new leader has emerged at the top, and the contenders that were battling throughout the year now find themselves stuck either mid-pack, or in the back.
Here are the reseeded Chase standings after the Federated Auto Parts 400:
Michael Hirshbein (2009) Kyle Busch finished 19th (3)
Rob Tiongson (2006) Kevin Harvick finished 11th (2)
Billy Fellin (2003) Kevin Harvick finished 11th (1)
Rob Blount (2003) Kevin Harvick finished 11th (1)
Sal Sigala Jr. (2003) Brad Keselowski finished 17th (1)
Kara Martin (2003) Kyle Busch finished 19th (1)
Kelly Crandall (2003) Clint Bowyer finished 25th (1)
Patti Rodisch (2000) Kyle Busch finished 19th (0)
Dustin Parks (2000) Denny Hamlin finished 21st (0)
Ryan O'Hara (2000) Clint Bowyer finished 25th (0)
James Broomhead (2000) Kyle Busch finished 19th (2)
Misan Akuya (2000) Clint Bowyer finished 25th (1)
Christopher Leone (2000) Kyle Busch finished 19th (0)
Next Race: So at the end of the regular season, "The Podium Finish" was atop the podium. But now, the game is changing. The 10-race battle for the championship kicks off next week. With an entire new outlook on the standings, it's clear that coming out of the box strong will be important.
Each race will mean all the writers must choose a different driver to win the race, as no repeats are allowed. So, if they all want to make sure they get off on the right foot, they will have to do so in Chi-Town.
NASCAR kicks off the 2013 Chase once again at Chicagoland, one of many 1.5-mile tracks in the Chase. No more "regular season," because now it will take 10 solid races to crown a champion.
Writers, you all know the rules for the 2013 Chase Pool, so strap in and submit your picks by Thursday, September 12, at 10 p.m. ET for the GEICO 400.