Allmendinger hopes to build on Circuit of the Americas win at Richmond
After posting a top-10 finish in every race this season thus far, veteran NASCAR driver AJ Allmendinger finally took home the checkered flag at the Pit Boss 250 in Austin, Texas. This win marked his first of the 2022 season, 11th of his NASCAR Xfinity Series career and his series record seventh road course win (previously at Road America-2013, 2019; Mid-Ohio- 2013,2021; Charlotte-2020,2021).
Allmendinger lived up to his road course reputation and led the pack for a race-high 27 of 46 laps at the 3.41-mile circuit last weekend. Finishing second was Xfinity Series rookie Austin Hill who earned his second consecutive runner-up finish. Not far behind was NASCAR Cup Series regular Cole Custer followed by JR Motorsport’s teammates Noah Gragson and Sam Mayer.
Ty Gibbs, hoping to snag his third Xfinity Series win this season, was battling it out with Allmendinger and Ross Chastain for the lead but after being forced to head to pit road on Lap 20, he wasn’t able to stay on top but still managed to work his way to a top-15 finish. Gibbs, who was the pole winner for the Pit Boss 250, currently finds himself in the third-place position in the point standings with 227 points. Allmendinger sits in second with 257, just one point shy of Gragson’s 258 points.
This weekend, they’ll all be back to compete in the ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond Raceway on Saturday, April 2 at 1:30 p.m. ET. on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR radio.
The on-track activity for the NASCAR Xfinity Series will begin with practice on Saturday, April 2 at 8:30 a.m. ET followed by qualifying at 9 a.m. ET both will be televised on FS1.
Richmond Raceway returns
The NASCAR Xfinity Series will be heading to Virginia to compete at the .75-mile track, Richmond Raceway, this weekend for the ToyotaCare 250 on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. This will be the 76th Xfinity Series race at Richmond Raceway. The previous 75 Xfinity races at Richmond have produced 39 different pole winners and 37 different race winners.
Kevin Harvick leads the Xfinity Series at Richmond Raceway with the most wins (seven), top fives (18) and top 10s (21). Kyle Busch’s name is also written in the Richmond Raceway record books as he holds the qualifying record at 129.348 mph and has led a record 1,497 laps.
Only two former Xfinity Richmond winners are entered this weekend, JR Motorsports teammates Justin Allgaier with two wins (2020 sweep) and the current point standings leader Noah Gragson (2021).
Fans last saw Noah Gragson secure the victory by a margin of .381-second last season. His win in Richmond marked his second of the 2021 season, after having won at Darlington Raceway just the week before. Gragson went on to win one more time last season at Martinsville Speedway.
Dash 4 Cash: Who’s taking home the bonus $100,000?
The NASCAR Xfinity Series Dash 4 Cash program was designed to add elements of unpredictability and drama leading up to and during four designated races, increase on-track competition, engage fans and reward / recognize NASCAR Xfinity Series regular competitors.
The first opportunity for drivers to win the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus will be this Saturday at Richmond Raceway. Last weekend’s race at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) was the first qualifier so we will be seeing AJ Allmendinger, Austin Hill, Noah Gragson and Sam Mayer dashing for their chance to win.
Of these four, Gragson is the only one with a NASCAR Xfinity Series Richmond Raceway win. He has also posted two top fives and four top 10s since he started competing at Richmond in 2018.
The series most recent winner (COTA), AJ Allmendinger, has made two series starts at Richmond putting up an average finish of 16.0.
Sam Mayer made his series track debut last season; he started 38th and raced his way up to a 12th-place finish.
Austin Hill will be making his series track debut at Richmond Raceway this weekend.
The winner and next three highest finishing full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers will qualify for the next event at Martinsville Speedway (April 8). The format will continue to Talladega Superspeedway (April 23) and Dover Motor Speedway (April 30).
NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.
Sunoco Rookie of the Year Update – Things continue to look up for rookie Austin Hill as he has posted back-to-back runner-up finishes in Atlanta and COTA, proving that he is a strong contender in both race tracks and road courses. He currently has one win (Daytona), three top fives, three top 10s and 172 points in the standings.
Sheldon Creed also had a successful race in Austin as he posted a top-10 finish. In his six Xfinity Series starts this season, he was posted four top-10 finishes and has 149 points going into the race at Richmond Raceway.
Kyle Sieg and Jesse Iwuji did not compete at COTA this past weekend so they each are coming into the ToyotaCare 250 with 74 and 24 points, respectively.
JR Motorsports looks to tie Richard Childress Racing for most consecutive wins at Richmond – Currently Richard Childress Racing solely holds the record for the most consecutive wins at Richmond Raceway in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with four straight (2005 fall, 2006 sweep, 2007 spring).
But this weekend, JR Motorsports, who have won the last three consecutive Xfinity races at Richmond Raceway, could tie RCR or the series-most consecutive wins at 0.75-mile track. JRM teammates, Justin Allgaier (2020 sweep) and Noah Gragson (2021) are the only former winners entered in this weekend ToyotaCare 250.
Rajah Caruth to attempt NASCAR national series debut at Richmond – This weekend in the ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond Raceway, Alpha Prime Racing will field up-and-coming driver Rajah Caruth in his first attempt at a NASCAR national series race. Caruth will pilot the No. 44 Chevrolet with Dan Stillman as his crew chief.
Caruth is a prominent iRacer who has competed in the ARCA Menards Series East and also in the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series. Most recently, Caruth is competing for a championship in the ARCA Menards Series with Rev Racing and Max Siegel. In two ARCA Menards Series starts this season, he has posted one top-five finish and ranked second in the series’ driver standings.
Caruth, a participant in the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program, hails from Atlanta, Georgia and while not in a race car, attends Winston-Salem State University pursuing a major in motorsports management.
Battle To Championship 4 Will Be Intense
Allmendinger is showing that he’s going to be a factor in things. So is Gragson who now has a top 5 in all but one race. You can’t count out Ty Gibbs who is the only one this season with more than one win to go along with 3 top 6’s in his last 4 starts. That’s 3 drivers.
But, you also have Justin Allgaier who had 4 straight top 10’s prior to his 34th and 33rd place respective finishes. Neither of those last 2 are indicative on how good of a car he actually had. Allgaier, was in the top five in both races.
Josh Berry was in the same boat with being 33rd and 27th. Prior to that, he had 3 straight top four finishes.
Daniel Hemric is the defending series champion and while he has 3 finishes outside the top 10, he also has 2 finishes inside the top 10 too.
Brandon Jones has 3 top 10’s in his last 4 races and in a JGR car is always a threat. Austin Hill has two straight runner-ups to go along with a win. His rookie teammate of Sheldon Creed has 4 top 10’s in six races.
That’s 9 drivers and only four spots in Phoenix to settle a title. Playoff points are going to be huge.
Top 5 Prediction:
- 9 Gragson – He won last y ear and has 5 top 8’s in 6 Richmond starts. Also, he has 5 top 4’s in 6 races this season including a Phoenix victory.
- 7 Allgaier – 5 straight top 4 finishes in Richmond including 2 wins in his last 3 starts. 4 top 10’s in 6 races run this season too.
- 54 Gibbs – 7th last year but has 2 wins and 3 top 6’s in his last 4 starts on the season.
- 11 Hemric – 4 top 6’s in 5 Richmond tries. Only 2 top 10’s this year which is why I have him here. 1 was an 8th place result in Phoenix though.
- 26 Nemechek – 5th in Phoenix as he also has a Truck win at Richmond (2021) to go along with being 3rd in last year’s NXS race too.
Austin Hill – RCR is always good in Richmond and Hill enters having finished 8th and 10th respectively in 2 Truck Series stats, both he came from the front row, as well as two straight runner-ups on the season too.
Riley Herbst – 3 top 10’s in 4 Richmond tries. Also 3 top 10’s on the season as well.
Jeb Burton – 0 top 10’s in 2022 but 2 straight (2nd, 10th) at Richmond.
Kaz Grala – 9th in his last 2 Richmond starts.
Allmendinger – 14th and 18th in his 2 NXS starts at Richmond. 20th or worse in his final 7 Cup starts there too. However, he does have a top 10 finish in all 6 races this season.
Bayne – 1 top 5 in his last 5 NXS Richmond starts. 0-for-7 in Cup top 10’s too. He’s been 3rd, 4th and 28th in his 3 starts this season but did win the pole in a like track at Phoenix and finished 4th.
Josh Berry – 7th and 24th in his 2 NXS Richmond starts. He was 33rd and 27th in his last 2 starts on the season at that. He does have 3 straight top 4’s prior though.
Brandon Jones – 0 top 5’s in 11 Richmond starts. Just 3 top 10’s at that. He does have 3 top 10’s in his last 4 races on the season though including a runner-up at Phoenix.