NASCAR Richmond

USA Today Sports

NASCAR Richmond Preview

”The Last Lap with Seth Dunlap”
April 21, 2018 - 9:44 am

Last week in Bristol we got our first taste of short track racing over on the East Coast. This week, we stay on the short track when NASCAR heads over to Richmond Raceway for the Toyota Owners 400.

Richmond Raceway features a 0.75 mile long track that drivers will race three stages of 100, 100 & 200 laps in completion of 300 miles. Last year’s winner was Joey Logano, but if you remember, his win was taken away due violations found on his #22 Ford during post-race inspections. 

Logano will likely be a contender again in this race, as he’s finished in the top-10 nine times in the last ten races. His teammate Brad Keselowski has also had success with a 2nd place finish in last year’s race. Look for the Fords to be close to the front as they’ll be switching over their Ford Fusion model to a Ford Mustang model for the first time in the Cup series. 

When you look at the dominate manufacturer this week, you have to look at the sponsor of the race the Toyota. In the last four races at Richmond, four Toyota drivers have led at least 115 combined laps. Toyota drivers have led a combined 1,166 laps of the 1,611 total laps in the last four races. 

One Toyota driver is looking for his third straight win of the 2018 season and that’s Kyle Busch. Busch has probably had the least success of his teammates in Richmond but he’s looked like the best Toyota so far this season so we’ll give him the edge this week. His teammate Denny Hamlin has a win here in 2016 and five consecutive top-6 finishes. The only thing keeping Denny back this season is Denny. Penalties on pit road and unlucky breaks is what has held the #11 car back the last few races in 2018.

The last of the elite Toyotas this week is Martin Truex Jr. The #78 had the best car on the track last time they raced here in September. It was an accident that ended Truex’s day which likely would have led to another playoff win. He also led over half the laps in the 2016 September race, but finished in 3rd. So the #78 has the car to win, but just hasn’t figured out how to finish the race in Richmond. 

The other driver I have on my radar this week is Kyle Larson. The #42 all but had the race won last week in Bristol but a late caution led to his 2nd place finish. Larson is the winner the last time they raced here in September, so seeing #42 searching for his first win of the season this week is a good impossibility. 

The driver who’s really come on lately is the seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson. The #48 finished 3rd place in Bristol last week and has put up solid finishes here in Richmond. Don’t expect Johnson to qualify great as he started outside the top-15 in both races last season. I don’t think any Chevrolet other than Larson has a real possibility to win, but Johnson would be my next best choice. 

Finally this week is the introduction of one my favorite new sponsors of the Richmond race. It’s the start of the Climax Corner. While it does have an interesting name, Discovery Channel’s “Moonshiners” have sponsored a party deck on Turn 4 that fans can enjoy Climax moonshine. 

This week Toyota Owners 400 will be the first night race of the season as they’ll crank up their engines on Saturday night. Green flag on FOX is at 5:30pm. 

Tim’s Picks To Win:

  • 1) Kyle Larson (#42)
  • 2) Kyle Busch (#18)
  • 3) Denny Hamlin (#11)
  • 4) Brad Keselowski (#2)
  • 5) Martin Truex Jr (#78)
  • Sleeper: Jamie McMurray (#1)
Comments ()