WHO WILL WIN FEDERATED AUTO PARTS 400
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He’s won six times this season alone and has seven top six finishes in his last eight Richmond starts including a third place finish in this race in each of the last three years.
Martin Truex Jr.
He closed the regular season with eight straight top four finishes including nine in his last 10 tries. He swept both Richmond races last year and has three straight top three finishes on this track overall. He swept both stages, led the most laps (194) and was heading towards at the very worst a second place finish last Sunday.
This could be the place to end his winless drought. Busch, has six wins at Richmond during the course of his Cup career including a sweep of both races in 2018. He also has five top two finishes in his last nine starts overall there and led 101 laps in last year’s spring race. He was eighth and second respectively a year ago.
Seven wins during the pandemic and heading to a track to where he has nine top seven finishes, eight of which being in the top five, in his last 11 starts. He has a top five in every race except for two over the last two months including a win last Sunday.
He’s had a top 11 finish in all but five races this year (22-for-27). He’s had a top 11 finish at Richmond in nine straight starts including 11 of his last 12. He was seventh and fourth respectively last year as the top non Toyota driver.
He has three top two finishes and four top four finishes in his last six Richmond starts to go along with 10 top 10’s in his last 12 Richmond starts overall since 2014.
Longs shot to bet
With SHR, he has four straight top 10 finishes at Richmond.
He crossed the finish line fourth in last year’s race but was penalized. The Toyota’s have pace at Richmond so why not go with Jones here. He finished fourth last Sunday.
Federated Auto Parts 400 Preview
The penultimate race of the opening round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs is here for Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN). Kevin Harvick won last Sunday’s Southern 500 and automatically advanced to the second round. 15 drivers are left fighting for 11 spots with four of them going home.
Right now, Clint Bowyer (-0), Cole Custer (-3), Ryan Blaney (-17) and Matt DiBenedetto (-17) are on the outside looking in. They have two races to get themselves into the playoff picture to advance to the Round of 12. But, can they?
It starts at the Richmond (VA) Raceway for a primetime under the lights shootout.
The Toyota’s are the heavy favorites with them sweeping the action at Richmond in each of the last two years to go along with seven trips to victory lane in the last nine starts on the .75-mile D-Shaped Virginia oval.
Kyle Busch is winless this season and has just one victory since the end of June 2019, but he swept the two races in 2018 and has five top two finishes in his last nine starts on the short track. It would be fitting for him to end his winless drought on Saturday night and stamp his name into the next round of the playoffs. But, he will have to do so without his crew chief Adam Stevens who’s suspended for Saturday nights race after being penalized for a lug nut violation following last Sunday’s Southern 500. We’ve seen Busch’s car struggle off the hauler this season and them having to adjust it throughout the course of the race. Does not having Stevens and not racing at Richmond yet this season hurt him?
Martin Truex Jr. also has to be among the favorites to beat. He swept both races at Richmond last year. In fact, he’s won the last four races in the Virginia Commonwealth with winning the playoff race last October at Martinsville as well as the spring race on the .526-mile short track this past June. Can he make it 5-for-5? He wrapped up the regular season with three runner-ups, five third place runs and a fourth place effort over the final 10 races. He was 22nd last Sunday in Darlington but led the most laps (196), swept both stages and unfortunately was involved in a late race incident with Chase Elliott while battling for the lead with 14 to go.
Denny Hamlin has six wins overall in 2020 and a third place finish in each of the last three years in the Richmond playoff races. He’s finished outside the top six just once in his last eight starts there.
JGR went 1-2-3-4 across the finish line in this race last September and should be tough to beat again a year later.
If they are going to be challenged, the only three I think that can is Harvick (8 top 5’s in last 11 Richmond starts) or two Team Penske drivers in Brad Keselowski (11 top 11 finishes in last 12 tries) or Joey Logano (4 top 4’s in last 6 Richmond starts).
Keselowski, was the top non Toyota last year and has a top 11 finish in all but five races this season. Logano, was first and second respectively at Richmond in 2017 and has had all his Richmond success in the spring race actually. He was 14th and 11th the last two playoff races there, but without a spring race this season, could it help him?
Other than that, it’s slim pickings.
Chase Elliott has just two top five finishes in nine Richmond starts. William Byron and Alex Bowman each have no top 10 finishes each in four starts on the track with Hendrick. Kurt Busch was 11th in each of the last two Richmond spring races and 18th in both playoff races.
I’ll also be curious to how this new racing package looks. Last year was the new high downforce, low horsepower package and it produced only eighth and six lead changes respectively. There were just five cautions in both races too.
With a slightly altered package, it could make the racing better, which could lead to more passing opportunities.
BETTING Richmond Raceway
Not many long shots are going to be a factor this weekend. It’s a playoff race, so playoff drivers typically win playoff races, especially at Richmond. Starting position matters too with eight top five starters having won the last 10 Cup races on the .75-mile D-Shaped oval.
With the top guys starting up front, this is going to be a favorites type of race. But, how can you decipher through who to pick or not?
Toyota’s are where to start. They’ve swept each of the last two years at Richmond and have three playoff drivers in the mix. Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski are really the top non Toyota contenders while you’ll get Joey Logano for cheap (4 top 4 finishes in last 6 Richmond starts). I don’t like the Chevrolet’s, so you can really narrow it down a lot by this for this weekend.
STAT TO WATCH
Toyota’s have been the top team at Richmond over the last several years. They’ve won four straight and seven of the last nine. The last time out at Richmond, they crossed the finish line 1-2-3-4.