RICHMOND, VA — It’s shaping up to be more of a battle for JR Motorsports this weekend at the Richmond Raceway than initially expected. JRM has won each of the last 3 NASCAR Xfinity Series races here and 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.
However, Joe Gibbs Racing looks to have brought something for them. Ty Gibbs was not only quickest in practice this morning, but won his 3rd career pole after in going 121.836 mph in his No. 54 Toyota. This was his second straight pole of the season but first on an oval during his brief career.
He’ll have some company from the Toyota camp up front too. His teammate John Hunter Nemechek (121.098 mph) will join him on the front row. Nemechek, started third last year in the Xfinity Series race as well as scored the pole in the Truck race too. He finished in the top five at Phoenix, a similar track, a few weeks ago with Sam Hunt Racing. This car he’s driving won the pole that day.
Gragson (120.768 mph) stats third in his No. 9 Chevrolet. It was Gragson’s 5th top six starting spot in the last six weeks. He started third last year and won, so is this a good omen?
Austin Hill (120.573 mph) will roll off fourth in his No. 21 Chevrolet while Brandon Jones (120.525 mph) gives JGR 3 cars in the top 5 by qualifying his No. 19 Toyota in fifth place.
JGR has 3 cars up front with JRM having only 1 in the top 10. Where this is big is, 18 of the last 20 Richmond winners started in the top 10 including 6 of the last 8 from the top 2 rows. On the season, 5 of the 6 races were won by a top 4 starter including all six from the top 11.
This Year: DIS – 2nd, FON – 2nd, LV – 11th, PHX – 2nd, ATL – 4th, COTA – 4th
That puts this as a Gragson vs. JGR battle. The other thing is, maybe JRM went with setups for later today as it was in the upper 30’s for practice/qualifying this morning. Temps will be in the 60’s for the race later today. How much does this play a role into things?
JRM and JGR have combined to win 6 of the last 7 Richmond races.
Got to give a call for Ryan Sieg Racing in once again looking strong in qualifying on a short track. Parker Retzlaff qualified 6ht in Phoenix while Sieg was 4th. This time around, they’re 8th (Sieg) and 10th (Retzlaff) respectively.
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).
- 9 Gragson – Won from 3rd last year so why not again? He 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.
- 54 Gibbs – Quickest in practice. Quickest in qualifying. However, just 1 pole winner has won the race in the last 12 tries. He has 2 wins and 3 top 6’s in his last 4 starts on the season.
- 5 Preece – He could be the next driver to win for a smaller team. Cole Custer did at Fontana with SS Green Light Racing. Ross Chastain almost did last week with a smaller team. Can Preece? He was 4th in practice and 6th in qualifying.
- 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.
- 18 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. He rolls off on Row 2.
Riley Herbst – 3 top 10’s in 4 Richmond tries. Also 3 top 10’s on the season as well.
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. Allmendinger, starts 9th.
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. He starts 12th.
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.