NASCAR Pre-Race Media: Sunday’s Federated Auto Parts 400 (3 p.m. ET, USA, MRN) track trends, favorites, sleepers, fades, etc

TRACK: Richmond Raceway (.75 mile oval). DISTANCE: 400 Laps — STAGE 1: 70 Laps, STAGE 2: 160 Laps, FINAL STAGE: 170 Laps (300 Miles)

This will be the 132nd race of the history of NASCAR and the Cup Series at Richmond but this year, both races will take place under day time conditions instead of night making both races one in the same but also differing than last year that raced under the lights.

  • The Toyota’s are the heavy favorites with them sweeping the action at Richmond in 2018 and 2019 to go along with 9 trips to victory lane in the last 13 starts on the .75-mile D-Shaped Virginia oval including this past spring. JGR went 1-2-3-4 across the finish line in Sept. 2019 as their top feat. but had the fastest race cars here in April too.

Federated Auto Parts 400 key stats
Starting position doesn’t matter here as much as it does in other places. Drivers say in qualifying, you attack this track for 2 laps but in the race, you have to baby the tires and take it easy. Push too hard in race mode, you fall backwards due to tire wear. It’s why 2 of the last 3 winners started outside of the top 10 including Denny Hamlin from 13th this past spring and Alex Bowman from 24th the spring prior. That’s why the season may show 12 winners coming from a top 8 starting spot in the last 13 races but Richmond may be an outlier here this weekend.

Richmond has been a championship precursor lately. All 4 Championship 4 drivers were in the top 6 last Fall and half were in the top five last spring. In 2020, 3 of the 4 were in the top five in the Fall race (only race of 2020 at Richmond). For 2019, they went 1-2-3-7 in the Fall race and 1-4-5-8 in the spring. In 2018, they went 1-2-3-14 in the Fall race and 1-4-5-14 in the spring.

Translation? At least 2 of the top 5 (Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, William Byron, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson) in the spring race will make the Championship 4 and at least 3 of the top 5 in the Fall race will also race for the championship.

Live In Race Betting Trends To Watch
• Strategy is key here and Denny Hamlin scored no stage points in his win this past spring. 3 times since 2018 has someone swept both stages here but didn’t win including just last year.
• 3 of the last 5 races on the season the eventual winner finished in the top 6 of the opening stage. 5 of the 10 opening stages saw the eventual race winner come home in the top three at that.
• 16 of the last 20 races on the season the eventual race winner scored stage points in the 2nd stage including 6 of the last 8. However, the Stage 2 winner has just 2 wins all season.
• 6 of the last 9 race winners on the season didn’t lead a single lap in the first 2 stages.
• 2 of the last 9 races have seen the driver lead the most laps fail to win in the end. At Richmond, 9 of the last 11 drivers to lead the most laps failed to win. 2 of the last 3 winners here at that led 10 or fewer laps in their victory.


TRACK COMPARISONS

Flat like Phoenix. You can be aggressive with a 2 pit strategy in the final stage that might make it interesting as long as everyone doesn’t do the same thing. Day race though will be more abrasive on tires.


RICHMOND, VIRGINIA – APRIL 03: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway on April 03, 2022 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Favorites

Martin Truex Jr. 

He has to be a favorite, right? He absolutely needs a win and Truex has 8 straight top 5 finishes at Richmond including 4 top 2’s in his last 6. He was 4th this spring after leading 80 laps and scoring a stage win.

Denny Hamlin

He was runner-up in both races last year including leading 207 laps in the spring and 197 in the Fall. Hamlin won the spring race to tally 10 top six finishes in his last 12 Richmond starts. However, that’s also his only top 20 in 5 short track starts this season.

Ross Chastain

Was 7th last Fall and 3rd in both stages this spring. I still like him on Sunday. He’s finished in the top 5 in 3 of the 5 short tracks run this season.

Sleepers

Bubba Wallace

4 straight top 8 finishes on the season including 3 in the top 5. Don’t over think this.

Christopher Bell

He was fourth and third respectively last year and 6th in the spring race after leading 63 laps and scoring a 2nd place finish in the 2nd stage. He has 3 top 10’s in his last 4 short track starts.

Kevin Harvick

Worth a look. He was runner-up this spring for his 7th top 8 result in his last 8 Richmond tries. He has 3 top 10’s in 5 short track races this season including 2 being at Phoenix and Richmond at that.

Austin Dillon

He surprised everyone in 2020 with a fourth place run at Richmond, but, he’s also had 6 top 11 finishes in his last 7 on this track.

Tyler Reddick

His teammate runs well in Richmond and here Reddick was with an 11th place result on this very race track in 2020. and 12th in the spring. Reddick, also had three straight top 10 finishes in his NXS career at Richmond as well. He was 3rd at Phoenix back in the spring.

Chase Briscoe

Not much past stats to go off of but he won Phoenix and was 11th in the spring so why not?


RICHMOND, VIRGINIA – APRIL 18: Cole Custer, driver of the #41 HaasTooling.com Ford, and Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway on April 18, 2021 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Who To Fade?

Hendrick Motorsports

Alex Bowman lucked into a win last year for his only top 5 in 8 Richmond starts. William Byron used strategy and strategy only to lead 122 laps in his only top 5 in 8 Richmond starts this spring. Kyle Larson just 1 top five finish in his last 7 Richmond starts and that was only 5th in the spring race. Last year, he was 18th in April and sixth in the playoff race. 4 of Chase Elliott’s last 6 Richmond starts have seen him finish 12th or worse.

They just don’t have the speed to win this race.

On short tracks this year they were 11-14-18-34, 3-5-8-14, 1-10-12-19, 1-5-6-22 and 12-13-14-21 this season. The 2 wins were at Dover and Martinsville which run nothing like here. The failed to score a top 10 at a like track in Phoenix earlier this season.

Team Penske

Not one of Ryan Blaney’s better tracks. He’s never had a top 5 in 12 Richmond starts. Austin Cindric was 20th as a rookie and Logano was 17th this past spring. They were also only 4-8-24 at Phoenix back in March.

Kyle Busch

He has 8 straight top nine results including a top two in nearly half of his last 13 Richmond starts. He also has finished 7th, 9th, 7th, 7th and 2nd in 5 short track races this season. However, he also has gone 8 straight races without a top 10 result too.

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