After several rain delays, the 2012 Sprint Cup regular season came to a close, as Clint Bowyer won the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway, setting up the field to the Chase for the Sprint Cup Champion.

Bowyer used some fuel strategy and beat Jeff Gordon, who locked himself into the Chase field by finishing second.  Mark Martin ran third, followed by Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth to round out the top 5.

The win was Bowyer's second of the season, his second at the track, and his seventh of his career. He and teammate Martin Truex Jr. are the first two Michael Waltrip Racing drivers to make the 12-driver Chase field which is now locked.  With Gordon's second place finish, that put him into the Chase by one point.  That also put all 4 Hendrick Motorsport teammates in the big dance as well so Gordon will join Jimmy Jonson, Dale Earnhardt Jr, and Kasey Kahne.

This is usually the time of the season that things really start to heat up and tempers will flare as the 10 race shootout determines who will win the Sprint Cup Championship.  So, if there is ever a time to watch NASCAR, now is it.

The 12 drivers now locked in include, Danny Hamlin, Jimmy Johnson, Tony Stewart, Brad Keselowski, Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr, Kasey Kahne, and Jeff Gordon.

The Chase starts next week in Chicago.

Here is a recap of the race in pictures followed by a video of the finish.

Race at Richmond Gallery

Video of the Race Finish

So, how did you favorite driver do? Who do you think will win the 2012 Sprint Cup Championship?