Richmond Race Notes

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The last time the Cup Series raced at Richmond was in the first round of the playoffs last year. Team Penske dominated at the short, flat tracks last year and that is what happened at Richmond. Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano finished in the top 3 and led 237 of the 400 laps. The race went caution free (except for the competition caution and the Stage breaks) and had 19 lead changes between 10 drivers. Despite the lack of cautions, the race was fun to watch.

 

Race Rewind Richmond: Federated Auto Parts 400 (2020)

– The 10 drivers who looked the best in the race included: Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Austin Dillon, Alex Bowman, Aric Almirola and Kurt Busch

 

Stage / Race Results

Stage 1 Stage 2

Race Results

1. Denny Hamlin 1. Brad Keselowski 1. Brad Keselowski
2. Austin Dillon 2. Austin Dillon 2. Martin Truex Jr.
3. Joey Logano 3. Martin Truex Jr. 3. Joey Logano
4. Brad Keselowski 4. Joey Logano 4. Austin Dillon
5. Kevin Harvick 5. Chase Elliott 5. Chase Elliott
6. Alex Bowman 6. Kyle Busch 6. Kyle Busch
7. Martin Truex Jr. 7. Kurt Busch 7. Kevin Harvick
8. Chase Elliott 8. Aric Almirola 8. Aric Almirola
9. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 9. Matt Kenseth 9. Alex Bowman
10. Clint Bowyer 10. Kevin Harvick 10. Clint Bowyer

 

Martin Truex Jr. has been about as consistent as they come at Richmond. The No. 19 car has finished 2nd, 1st, 1st and 3rd in the last 4 races at this short, flat track. Truex has also averaged 130 laps led in his last 6 races at the track. Truex started 14th, finished 7th in Stage 1, 3rd in Stage 2, had a 5.51 average running position (3rd best) and finished 2nd. He is the safest pick for your fantasy team this week.

Kyle Busch dominated the races between 2009 -2018 with 6 wins at Richmond. The track ranks as his 3rd-best. Busch was good but not great at Richmond last year. The No. 18 car started 6th, did not score any Stage points in Stage 1, finished 6th in Stage 2, led 4 laps, had a 8.75 average running position and finished 6th. His average finishing position in his last 10 races at Richmond is 5.6. Not too bad.

Denny Hamlin is just another Joe Gibbs Racing driver who is really good at Richmond. Hamlin has finished 8 of his last 10 races at his home track in the top 6. That is pretty consistent. The No. 11 car started 7th last year and won Stage 1. Hamlin had a speeding penalty on pit road (that should not surprise anyone) and lost track position. He led 45 laps, had a 12.35 average running position (13th best) and finished 12th in the race. That is a really poor race for Hamlin at Richmond. He should bounce back Sunday.

Christopher Bell entered the race at Richmond as the favorites from the rookies (Tyler Reddick and Cole Custer) to finish up front. He won 3 Xfinity Series races at Richmond so most people expected that success to transfer to a good run in the Cup Series race. Bell was good but not great. Bell started 26th, did not score any Stage points, had a 17.71 average running position (16th best) and finished 15th. He did score 11 place differential points so that is good for your DFS lineups. Bell should be much better this week now that he is in a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

Brad Keselowski was the best driver on the short, flat tracks last year. Keselowski won the races at New Hampshire and Richmond and finished 2nd at Phoenix. He also led the most laps in 2 of the 3 races. Keselowski started 9th, finished 4th in Stage 1, won Stage 2, led a race-high 192 laps, had a series-best 2.5 average running position and went to Victory Lane. Keselowski has scored Stage points in every Stage and led laps in every race at Richmond since 2017. He is a great pick this week.

Joey Logano has been really good at Richmond but he has not been as consistent as his teammate (Brad Keselowski). Logano finished 3rd, 11th, 2nd, 14th, 4th in his last 4 races at Richmond. When he is good, he is really good. When he is bad, he finishes right outside the top 10. Logano was good last September at Richmond. The No. 22 car started 2nd, finished 3rd in Stage 1, 4th in Stage 2, led 45 laps, had a 2.84 average running position (2nd best) and finished 3rd in the race.

Ryan Blaney looks like he doesn’t belong to Team Penske when it comes to racing at Richmond. For some reason the success of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano has not translated to success for Blaney. Richmond ranks as his worst track. Blaney has 9 starts at Richmond with a 24.78 average finishing position. He has never finished in the top 15 at this track. Blaney started 15th and finished 19th last year. There are probably better picks for your team this week.

Matt DiBenedetto has had about as much success at Richmond as Ryan Blaney. DiBenedetto has 11 starts at Richmond with a 27.64 average finishing position. His best ever finish was 14th in 2019 while driving for Leavine Family Racing. DiBenedetto started 16th, had a 17.89 average running position (18th best) and finished 17th last year. This track simply does not fit his driving style.

Kevin Harvick is a good but not great pick for the race at Richmond. Harvick has finished his last 5 races at this track in the top-7 and he scored Stage points in every Stage. He has not won a race at Richmond since 2013 and he is not led over 41 laps since 2016. Last year Harvick started on the pole. He finished 5th in Stage 1, 10th in Stage 2, led 41 laps, had a 7.93 average running position (6th best) and finished 7th. It was his 2nd consecutive 7th-place finish at Richmond. The No. 4 team had more speed last year than they have in 2021, so it may be tough for Harvick to improve upon his 2020 results at Richmond.

Chase Briscoe did not compete in the Cup Series race at Richmond last year. The Xfinity Series competed in back-to-back races at Richmond last year. Briscoe was not very good. He finished 11th on Saturday and 16th on Sunday. He will be driving the No. 14 car this week. Clint Bowyer had an 8th-place average finishing position in his last 5 races at Richmond but I doubt Briscoe can have the same success. Stewart-Haas Racing seems to be a bit behind the competition right now.

Aric Almirola has been hit or miss in his career at Richmond. He was a hit last year. The No. 10 car started 10th, finished 8th in Stage 2, had a 9.21 average running position (9th best) and finished 8th. Almirola has a habit of finishing between 8th and 14th at this track.

Cole Custer was the only rookie who was competing in the playoffs at Richmond last year. Custer had a decent race but not as good as most of the other playoff drivers. Custer started 13th, did not score any Stage points, had a 12.32 average running position (12th best) and finished 14th. Custer usually improves each time he visits a track so he could finish in the top-15 again Sunday.

Chase Elliott put on a clinic with his win at Phoenix last year. Some people say the most similar track to Phoenix is Richmond. If that is so, Elliott could be very good this week. The No. 9 car started 12th, finished 8th in Stage 1, 5th in Stage 2, led 2 laps, had a 6.61 average running position (5th best) and finished 5th at Richmond last year. The Team Penske and Joe Gibbs Racing drivers get all of the hype at Richmond but Elliott needs to be considered a favorite too.

– Kyle Larson did not compete in the Cup Series race at Richmond last year because he was suspended. This has been a good track for Larson. He won the race at Richmond in 2017. Larson leads almost every stat category this year on intermediate tracks. He has had the fastest average green flag speed, the best average finishing position and the best driver rating. He should be a serious threat to dominate this race.

William Byron has not been a very good at Richmond. He has 5 starts at the track and his average finishing position is 18th. Last year the No. 24 car started 5th and immediately fell back in the field. Byron did not score any Stage points. His average running position was 18.57 (19th best) and he finished 21st. There are better tracks to use Byron at.

Alex Bowman did not have much success at Richmond before the race last year. His average finishing position was 25.6. That all changed in the playoffs in 2020. Bowman started 4th, finished 6th in Stage 1, had an 8.49 average running position (7th best) and finished 9th. It looks like Bowman figured something out at Richmond last year. We will see if last year was a fluke or if he can build upon last year’s success.

Kurt Busch has not been good at Richmond since he joined Chip Ganassi Racing. Busch has competed in 3 races in the No. 1 car at Richmond. His average finishing position is 14th. Last year Busch started 8th, finished 7th in Stage 2, led 15 laps, had a 10.14 average running position (10th best) and finished 13th. Busch should finish between 10th-14th position this week.

– Ross Chastain did not compete in the Cup Series race at Richmond last year. He did finish 5th in the first Xfinity Series race and came back on Sunday and finished 3rd. Chastain will be driving the No. 42 car for Chip Ganassi Racing this week. Matt Kenseth drove this car at Richmond last year. Kenseth started 19th and finished 16th. I expect similar results from Chastain Sunday.

Ryan Newman is usually good at the short, flat tracks. That was not the case at Richmond last year. Newman started 21st, did not score any Stage points or lead any laps. Newman had a 20.06 average running position (21st best) and finished 23rd. He will only be a good pick in DFS if Newman starts outside the top 20.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is not the first name people think of when it comes to racing at Richmond but the track ranks as his 3rd best. Stenhouse started 23rd, finished 9th in Stage 1, had a 17.82 average running position (17th best) and finished 18th. His average finishing position in his last 4 races at Richmond is 15th. He will have value in DFS if he starts deep in the field and he should be the top play in Group C of the Driver Group Game.

Chris Buescher is not good at Richmond. This track ranks as his worst on the schedule. Buescher has started 9 races at Richmond. His average finishing position is 26.67 and he only finished inside the top 20 once (17th in 2017). Last year Buescher started 25th, had a 24.02 average running position (24th best) and finished 24th. There are better tracks to use Buescher at.

Austin Dillon was the surprise of the Cup Series at Richmond last year. Dillon started 3rd, finished 2nd in Stage 1, 2nd in Stage 2, led 55 laps, had a 5.84 average running position (4th best) and finished 4th. He might have won the race if his pit crew was better. Dillon finished 3 of his last 4 races at Richmond in the top 6 so last year’s race was not a fluke. The No. 3 car should be strongly considered for all fantasy lineups Sunday.

– Tyler Reddick would have been the surprise driver of the race if his teammate (Austin Dillon) was not so good. Reddick started 22nd, had a 16.17 average running position (15th best) and finished 11th. It looks like Richard Childress Racing has the aero package for Richmond figured out. The No. 3 and No. 8 cars are both good choices this week.

Daniel Suarez did not have much success at Richmond last year but that was because he was driving for the Gaunt Brothers. Suarez finished 9th at Richmond the previous year while driving for Stewart-Haas Racing. He should be really good again this week because his cars are made by Richard Childress Racing and that team has had a lot of success at Richmond. Suarez should be a good play in all fantasy formats Sunday.

Erik Jones has not had any success at Richmond in his last 2 races at the track. Jones crashed and finished 38th in the 2019 race at Richmond. Last year he started 17th, did not score any Stage points, had a 20.42 average running position (22nd best) and finished 22nd. The switch from Joe Gibbs Racing to Richard Petty Racing should not do him any favors this week.

Bubba Wallace has 5 starts in the Cup Series at Richmond. His average finishing position is 23.4. Last year Wallace started 30th, had a 24.29 average running position (25th best) and finished 26th. He will need to find some speed in his Toyota to finish in the top 20 this week.  

 

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