Denny Hamlin picked a perfect time to win his first race of the season taking the opening checkered flag of the playoffs. Now he’s guaranteed to be in the round of twelve, but not without thwarting a bold move by Kyle Larson. That just shows you how much these wins mean in the playoffs. I don’t know if Kyle would have tried that move in the regular season if he already had a win.
FEDERATED AUTO PARTS 400 SALUTE TO FIRST RESPONDERS
This week the series heads to the Richmond Raceway for the running of the Federated Auto Parts 400. This is a flat short track where handling will mean more than speed. This three-quarter mile track also means that pit stall selection is crucial here. That’s why I wish there was practice and qualifying at a track like this. It really has nothing to do with last week’s race.
Martin Truex Jr.: Even though the Gibbs drivers haven’t won either of the last two races run here, I think they are the ones to watch this weekend and Martin is my pick to win. He swept the races here in the 2019 season and then followed that up with a second place finish in 2020. In his last five races Martin has posted two wins, one second, one third and a fifth place finish while leading more laps than any other driver at this track.
Kyle Busch: The second of my Gibbs picks, Kyle won both races here in 2018. In fact besides those two wins, he has also finished second three times and in the top ten in ten of his last eleven starts at Richmond. After a disappointing finish last week this team feels they need a win to advance to the next round. This could be the place for him to do it.
Denny Hamlin: Our third Gibbs driver on our list is last week’s winner. Does that mean the Denny will be content now that he has a win? No! He would like to win again and grab some valuable playoff points. He’s been every bit as good as his teammates at this track coming away with seven top five finishes in his last nine starts here with one win.
Alex Bowman: While he only lead ten laps in the spring race Alex came away with the win. After having his own disappointments in last week’s race this team will be doing whatever they can to repeat that spring performance. The stakes are high for the rest of the season. Besides winning this spring Alex finished ninth here last year and those are his only top ten finished at this track.
Brad Keselowski: Brad won the race here last fall, but this team hasn’t been running all that well for most of the second half of the regular season. He has two career wins at this track and has finished in the top ten eight times in his last eleven races here. They are going to have to become more consistent if they want to keep advancing.
Joey Logano: Joey also has two career wins here with his last win coming during the 2017 season. He has been very consistent here with nine top five finishes in his last fifteen starts including both of those wins. Only twice during that stretch has he failed to finish in the top ten and his worst finish was fourteenth. Could be a great pick for those trying to make up some ground.
Kevin Harvick: Kevin finished twenty-fourth at Richmond this spring, but that was a huge anomaly. He is much better than that at this track. This is why. That was his worst finish here in his last twenty-three starts. In those other twenty-two starts he has two wins, eleven top five and sixteen top ten finishes. Another model of consistency at this track and still looking for his first win of the season.
Chase Elliott: Now, Chase has only run fifteen races here in his career which is way less than most of the older drivers. He hasn’t been the most consistent here either. However, he has improved a bit with three top five finishes in his last six starts. I still think there are better tracks to use this Hendrick driver at. Especially with another road course on the schedule.
Kyle Larson: Kyle won the fall race in the 2017 season at this track. However, like Chase I think there are better places to use him if you have any starts left. He just hasn’t been consistent enough here and we know he has run well at all other types of tracks. Still, five top ten finishes in his last eight starts is good, but I think he can be better than that.
DRIVER GROUP GAME FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR RICHMOND RACEWAY
Driver Group Game Group A
- Martin Truex Jr.
Driver Group Game Group B
- Kyle Busch
- Christopher Bell
Driver Group Game Group C
- Michael McDowell
MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT RICHMOND RACEWAY
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Kyle Busch
- Denny Hamlin
- Joey Logano
- Kevin Harvick
Dark Horse: Christopher Bell
Stay Away From: Ryan Blaney
Big 18: Kevin Harvick