With the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 still more than two weeks away, Jeremy Mayfield already has made a prediction for Richmond's second NASCAR Nextel Cup race of the season.

"Wild and crazy," Mayfield offered yesterday, between testing sessions for his No. 19 Dodge at Richmond International Raceway. "This is the race we've all been waiting for right here."

Indeed, since NASCAR announced its new points system last January, Richmond's Sept. 11 night race has been a focal point. After that event, the top 10 drivers in the standings will be bunched together for a 10-race championship showdown. The past several weeks have landed five drivers -- including the 11th-place Mayfield -- within 70 points of the top 10, a development that has thrilled Richmond officials but not mollified the system's critics.

"I'm here to race, not for craziness," said 13th-place driver Ryan Newman, who was also testing at Richmond yesterday. "It's a stupid points system."

Mayfield, who has put himself in place to contend for the championship despite failing to win a race this season, took a different view.

"This time last year there wouldn't be this many people here wanting to talk to the 10th-place or 11th-place guy in the points," he told a crowd of nearly two dozen media members. "I don't think this time of year there's ever been as much excitement as there is right now."

-- Dan Steinberg