There is now only one race left before the start of the Chase and there are still a few unanswered questions. Can Chris Buescher remain in the top thirty in points and make the Chase? He currently holds an eleven point lead over David Ragan for that spot. Will a driver who hasn’t won a race yet this season win at Richmond and knock another driver out who would have made it on points? It can happen. Can Ryan Newman make up a seven point deficit on Jamie McMurray and take the final Chase spot away from him? We will find out the answers to all of these question on Saturday night!
FEDERATED AUTO PARTS 400
Richmond International Raceway is a short-track. At just 3/4 of a mile and with only fourteen degrees of banking in the corners, starting towards the end of the field can lead to poor finishes in a hurry. Qualifying will be very important for all drivers, but especially important for those with Chase aspirations on the line. A poor qualifying effort or any reason a driver has to start at the rear of the field spells almost certain doom for a driver at this track.
Kyle Busch: Kyle is my pick to win the race this weekend at RIR. Kyle has won four times here in his career, which leads all active drivers. He also has finished in the top five in fifteen of his twenty-two starts and had led over one-thousand laps at this track. This is the perfect chance for him to win his fifth race of the season and be the number one ranked driver when he starts defending his Sprint Cup Championship from last year.
Kevin Harvick: Kevin probably would have won the race last week at Darlington if his team wouldn’t have had so many problems in the pits. There were three or four times where they had horrible stops and Kevin would lose a lot of spots that he had to make up on the track after dominating much of the early part of the race. With three wins and nineteen top ten finishes in thirty-one starts here, Kevin will give Kyle a run for his money this weekend.
Denny Hamlin: Denny had a great race last weekend and will try and build on that momentum this week at Richmond. He has led over fourteen-hundred laps at this track on his way to two wins and eleven top ten finishes in twenty starts here. This team looks to be improving and the right time of the year and just needs to stay consistent now. They have been one of the fastest teams on pit road all season and that in itself is a huge advantage for a driver.
Jeff Gordon: With Dale Earnhardt Jr. announcing he will not race again this season, Jeff and Alex Bowman will pilot the #88 for the rest of the season. This is one of Jeff’s weeks to drive the car once again. Though he hasn’t had the Jeff Gordon finishes we have come to expect throughout his career while subbing this year, you just never know when he is going to put another win in the books. With two wins, over sixteen-hundred laps led and thirty top ten finishes in his forty-six starts here, Jeff is someone you can use on your team.
Tony Stewart: Tony has won three times at this track and needs to get back to running well if he wants to make any noise once the Chase starts. I don’t expect NASCAR to issue any points penalties to Tony after he wrecked Brian Scott last weekend at Darlington, but he might get put on probation for the rest of the season which really doesn’t mean anything. His nineteen top ten finishes and 950 laps led here in thirty-four starts are reason enough to have him on your team this weekend.
Carl Edwards: Carl won the race here in April of this year for his second win at this track. This team really needs to become more consistent with the handling of their race car if they want to have a chance to win the championship this year. They have been terrible lately after qualifying well and we all know what happens to drivers who end up in the middle of the pack on restarts.
Jimmie Johnson: Speaking of a driver who needs to step up his game, Jimmie has really been struggling lately. They seem to have found some speed that they were lacking for a while, but they don’t seem to be getting the handling of the car right for Jimmie. This leads to spins and crashes when he tries to push the car harder than it is willing to go to make up time on the track. Still, he has won three times at this track so we know he can get the job done here.
Ryan Newman: Ryan’s lone win here came back in 2003. However, he hasn’t finished outside the top twenty since 2008 and has finished in the top ten in eight of the last fifteen races he has run here. He really needs to have another top ten and probably top five finish if he wants to make the Chase. I think he can do it, but there is going to be a lot of pressure on every single member of this team.
Kyle Larson: This is a team that has run very well the past two weeks while they won a race and had a chance at making it two. Kyle has only run five races at Richmond, but he has run them consistently well. He has never qualified worse than fifteenth here and has never finished worse than sixteenth. He has also completed every lap of every race he has run here. Another dark horse week for this team.
Chase Elliott: Chase has only run two races at this track and both of them have been in the spring. He has a twelfth and a sixteenth place finish in both of those races and just needs to stay out of trouble in this race and he will make the Chase. They can’t afford to wreck early and finish at the bottom of the pylon in this race or they could still miss out on making the Chase.
YAHOO! FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR RICHMOND INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY
Yahoo Driver Group A
- Kyle Busch
- Kevin Harvick
Yahoo Driver Group B
- Carl Edwards
- Kyle Larson
- Ryan Newman
- Tony Stewart
Yahoo Driver Group C
- Jeff Gordon
- Chase Elliott
MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT RICHMOND INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY
- Kyle Busch
- Kevin Harvick
- Denny Hamlin
- Kyle Larson
- Carl Edwards
Dark Horse: Tony Stewart
Stay Away From: Austin Dillon
Big 18: Tony Stewart