Top short track racers in NASCAR right now, plus Richmond to feature some local flavor in the sport

Since the first NASCAR Cup Series season in 1949, short tracks – a track less than a mile in length – have graced the competitive schedule and been part of the fabric that makes up the sport.

NASCAR Hall of Famer, aptly nicknamed ‘The King,’ Richard Petty scored 138 of his record 200 NASCAR Cup Series victories on short tracks – the series-most short-track wins all-time. He also holds the record for the most wins at a single NASCAR Cup Series track posting 15 victories at last weekend’s venue – Martinsville Speedway. Petty also has 13 wins at this weekend’s short track, Richmond Raceway (third-most all-time at a single track).

Among the active drivers this weekend, 10 have posted wins on short tracks in the NASCAR Cup Series, led by Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch with 16 short track Cup victories; including six at Richmond. Team Penske’s Joey Logano is the only driver to win at all four of the currently active short tracks on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule with his victory two weeks ago on the Bristol Dirt.

Short Track Winners Total Wins Martinsville Richmond Bristol Bristol Dirt
Kyle Busch 16 2 6 8 0
Denny Hamlin 10 5 3 2 0
Kurt Busch 10 2 2 6 0
Brad Keselowski 7 2 2 3 0
Kevin Harvick 7 1 3 3 0
Joey Logano 6 1 2 2 1
Martin Truex Jr 5 3 2 0 0
Ryan Newman 2 1 1 0 0
Chase Elliott 1 1 0 0 0
Kyle Larson 1 0 1 0 0

Seven of the 10 active NASCAR Cup Series short track winners entered this weekend are looking for their first victory of 2021, and six of the seven are former winners at Richmond – Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman and the most recent winner at Richmond Raceway, Brad Keselowski.

Interestingly, none of the active NASCAR Cup Series drivers entered this weekend have won in all three NASCAR national series at Richmond, but six have won in both the NASCAR Cup Series and the NASCAR Xfinity Series at the 0.75-mile track – Kyle Busch (NCS, six wins; NXS, six wins), Kevin Harvick (NCS, three wins; NXS, seven wins), Denny Hamlin (NCS, three wins; NXS, three wins), Brad Keselowski (NCS, two wins; NXS, four wins), Kurt Busch (NCS, two wins; NXS, one win) and Kyle Larson (NCS, one win; NXS, one win).

Three other Cup drivers entered this weekend have just won in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Richmond Raceway – Hendrick Motorsport’s Chase Elliott has one win (2015), Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell has three wins (2018 sweep, 2019) and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer also has one win (2019).

Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski is the defending winner of last season’s Cup race at Richmond Raceway; his seventh career short track win. In total, Keselowski has made 22 series starts at Richmond posting two poles, two wins (2014, 2020), six top fives and 12 top 10s.

Martin Truex Jr. probably has to headline this list.

Truex Jr. used to be a 1.5-mile king. 11 of his first 19 wins were on intermediate tracks. It wasn’t until his 20th win that came via a short track. But, over his last 10 wins, seven have come on tracks 1 mile in length or shorter including each of his last five. In fact, two of those last seven came at the Richmond Raceway, the site of this weekend’s Toyota Owners 400 (3 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN). Can he get another triumph on Sunday?

He certainly has to be among the favorites, if not THE favorite. Truex, swept both races in 2019 and was runner-up last year. He was also third in the playoff race of 2018 to give him four consecutive top three finishes on the .75-mile Virginia race track.

On top of all of this, he won last month at Phoenix, a track similar to Richmond as well as last week in Richmond. So, does this make Truex the one to beat?

Also, on 750 horsepower tracks (3 races) this year, Truex (2 wins), leads Hamlin (3 third place finishes), Bell (3 top 10’s), Harvick (3 top 10’s), Keselowski (2 top 5’s), Logano (3 top 6’s, including 2 runner-ups), Elliott (2 top 5’s including a runner-up), Larson (2 top 7’s) and Byron (2 top 8’s).

Dependable Denny (Hamlin) heads to Richmond riding a streak of top fives

The NASCAR Cup Series driver standings leader, Denny Hamlin, is sitting on a mountain of points (+76) over his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. in second after Hamlin put up seven top fives in the first eight races of the season. Now the Chesterfield, Virginia native is riding a streak of five top-five finishes heading into this weekend at Richmond Raceway. If he scores another top five this weekend at Richmond, he will tie his Cup career’s longest streak of consecutive top fives at six straight.

In 2019, Hamlin when strung together two wins and six top fives from the 19th race through the 24th race of that year (Kentucky, New Hampshire, Pocono, Watkins Glen, Michigan and Bristol), the longest streak of consecutive top-five finishes in his career.

This season, Hamlin leads the series points heading to Richmond, but is still looking for his first win of the year. In eight starts in 2021, Hamlin leads the series in laps led (487), top-five and top-10 finishes (seven each) and is tied for the most stage wins (three).

Richmond Raceway is not only one of Hamlin’s home tracks, but also one of his best. He has made 28 NASCAR Cup Series starts at Richmond posting three poles, three wins, 13 top fives and 17 top 10s. He also has the second-best average finish (9.2) at the 0.75-mile track among active e drivers behind his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch’s 6.7.

Brad Keselowski looks to make it two-in-a-row at Richmond

Looking to get his first win of the season, Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski, the defending winner of the most recent race at Richmond Raceway is looking to add his name to the list of NASCAR Cup Series drivers that have own consecutive races at historic 0.75-mile facility.

A total of 11 different drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series have posted consecutive wins at Richmond Raceway. NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty leads the series in consecutive Cup wins at Richmond with seven consecutive victories from the fall race of 1970 to the fall race of 1973.

  1. Joe Weatherly (1962-1963)
  2. David Pearson (1965, 1966 sweep)
  3. Richard Petty (1970, 1971 sweep, 1972 sweep, 1973 sweep)
  4. Cale Yarborough (1976-1977)
  5. Bobby Allison (1982, 1983 sweep)
  6. Dale Earnhardt (1987 sweep, 1990-1991)
  7. Rusty Wallace (1989 sweep)
  8. Terry Labonte (1994-1995)
  9. Jimmie Johnson (2007 sweep)
  10. Kyle Busch (2018 sweep)
  11. Martin Truex Jr. (2019 sweep)

Two active drivers, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr., are the most recent competitors to win consecutive races at Richmond and scribe their names on the list.

Keselowski has made 22 series starts at Richmond posting two poles, two wins (2014, 2020), six top fives and 12 top 10s.

Local Angle: Spotlighting team members from Virginia

It takes a lot of different people from all over the country to make a NASCAR event run with the precision we have all come to enjoy. This weekend, we turn the spotlight on team members from Virginia and a snapshot of their responsibilities.

Team Member Hometown Organization Car No. At-Track Responsibilities
David Jones Roanoke, VA Starcom racing 00 Car Chief
Scott Woodfin Colonial Heights, VA Chip Ganassi Racing 1 Hauler Driver
Stephen Price Lynchburg, VA Chip Ganassi Racing 1 Rear Tire Changer
Ethan Tingler Radford, VA Richard Childress Racing 3 Rear Tire Changer
Cliff Daniels Smithfield, VA Hendrick Motorsports 5 Crew Chief
Chris Haymaker Moneta, VA Hendrick Motorsports 9 Front-End Mechanic
Tony Bove Burlington, VA Hendrick Motorsports 9 Engine Tuner
Joe White Windsor, VA Stewart-Haas Racing 14 Spotter
Keith Eads Arlington, VA Stewart-Haas Racing 14 Tire Specialist
DeWayne Zirkle (Ryder) Roanoke, VA Roush Fenway Racing 17 Hauler Driver/Front Tire Catcher
Jonathan Salmons Bassett, VA Roush Fenway racing 17 Engine Tuner
Bradley Donaghy Orange, VA Joe Gibbs Racing 19 Tire Carrier
Jeff Curtis Fairfax Station, VA Joe Gibbs Racing 19 Lead Engineer
Chris Jones Smith Mountain Lake, VA Joe Gibbs Racing 20 Front End Mechanic
Chris Sherwood Portsmouth, VA Joe Gibbs Racing 20 Car Chief
Bryan Goodman Midlothian, VA Front Row Motorsports 34 Engine Tuner
Bradley Sisson King George, VA Richard Petty Motorsports 43 Social Media Manager/Hospitality
James (J.P.) Kelley Luray, VA TrackHouse Racing 99 Gasman, Pit Department Foreman
Lamar Neal Virginia Beach, VA TrackHouse Racing 99 Tire Carrier

 

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