Thursday, Oct 21

NASCAR National Series News & Notes - Richmond Raceway-2

NASCAR Cup Series

Next Race: Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders

The Place: Richmond Raceway

The Date: Saturday, September 11

The Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

TV: NBCSN, 7 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR (Channel 90)

Distance: 300 miles (400 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 80),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 235), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 400)

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Next Race: Go Bowling 250

The Place: Richmond Raceway

The Date: Saturday, September 11

The Time: 2:30 p.m. ET

TV: NBCSN, 2 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR (Channel 90)

Distance: 187.5 miles (250 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 75),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 150), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 250)

 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Next Race: UNOH 200 presented by Ohio Logistics

The Place: Bristol Motor Speedway

The Date: Thursday, September 16

The Time: 9 p.m. ET

TV: FS1, 8:30 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR (Channel 90)

Distance: 106.6 miles (200 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 55),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 110), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 200)

 

NASCAR Cup Series

 

Richmond Raceway cranks up the lights for the Playoffs

In an exciting finish last weekend at Darlington Raceway to open the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, that saw Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin hold-off a hard charging Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson nearly wrecking coming to the finish line, the series now heads to Richmond Raceway for the Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders this Saturday under the lights at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

 

Richmond Raceway has the stage set and the competition heading into this weekend couldn’t be hotter. The 2021 season marks the fourth time the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff’s second race has been held at Richmond Raceway (2018-2021). Richmond is the third different track in series history to host the second race of the Playoffs; joining Dover International Speedway (2004-2010) and New Hampshire Motor Speedway (2011–2017). Prior to 2018, Richmond Raceway was the regular season finale for the NASCAR Cup Series from 2004-2017.

 

A total of 13 different drivers have won the second race of the Playoffs, led by Jimmie Johnson with three wins (2005, 2009, 2010); followed by Kyle Busch (2017, 2018) and Matt Kenseth (2013, 2015) with two victories each. No non-Playoff driver has ever won the second Playoff race at Dover International Speedway (2004-2010) or New Hampshire Motor Speedway (2011-2017) or Richmond Raceway (2018-2020).

 

Second Race Of The Playoffs - Race Winners

Track

Playoff Race Winners

Date

Richmond

Brad Keselowski

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Richmond

Martin Truex Jr

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Richmond

Kyle Busch

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Loudon

Kyle Busch

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Loudon

Kevin Harvick

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Loudon

Matt Kenseth

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Loudon

Joey Logano

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Loudon

Matt Kenseth

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Loudon

Denny Hamlin

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Loudon

Tony Stewart

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dover

Jimmie Johnson

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Dover

Jimmie Johnson

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dover

Greg Biffle

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Dover

Carl Edwards

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Dover

Jeff Burton

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Dover

Jimmie Johnson

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Dover

Ryan Newman

Sunday, September 26, 2004

 

When Dover International Speedway hosted the second race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, twice the winning driver went on to win the series title – Jimmie Johnson (2009 and 2010).

 

When New Hampshire Motor Speedway moved to the second race in the Playoffs (2011 – 2017), only one driver won the event and went on to win the title – Tony Stewart (2011). Stewart won five races in the 2011 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs (a series-record) including the first two (Chicago and New Hampshire).

 

None of the Playoff winners at Richmond Raceway (2018-2020) have gone on to win the title the same season.

 

The worst finish by a driver in the second Playoff race that went on to win the title was: 

  • At Dover – The 2005 series champion, Tony Stewart, finished 18th.
  • At New Hampshire - The 2015 series champion, Kyle Busch, finished 37th.
  • At Richmond – The 2018 series champion, Joey Logano, finished 14th.
  • Last season’s champion, Chase Elliott, finished fifth at Richmond and went on to win the title.

 

Richmond Raceway’s long history with the NASCAR Cup Series

Richmond Raceway has been known by several different names and has been reconfigured several times over the years of its existence, but all the while it has been a staple on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule since 1953. This weekend’s Playoff race, the Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders (Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) is looking to add to the historic prestige that Richmond has built over the decades.

 

Originally known as the Atlantic Rural Exposition Fairgrounds, Richmond Raceway held its first race in 1946 as a half-mile dirt track. The first NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond Raceway was held on April 19, 1953 and the event was won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Lee Petty in a Petty Enterprises Dodge with an average speed of 45.535 mph.

 

From 1953 to 1968, the NASCAR Cup Series and Richmond Raceway hosted 24 races on dirt. The track surface was changed from dirt to asphalt between races in 1968. The track name was changed to Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway in 1969 and the track was re-measured to 0.542-mile in 1970.

 

It wasn’t until following the February 21, 1988 NASCAR Cup Series race that Richmond Raceway was rebuilt as a three-quarters-mile D-shaped oval that we know today. 

 

In 1999, International Speedway Corporation (now NASCAR) purchased the raceway and surrounding property. It was the first season with both Cup races as night races and the track was renamed to Richmond International Raceway.

 

In 2017, the track underwent $30 million in renovations to upgrade the amenities for the fans and in the process changed the name of the track to Richmond Raceway.

 

In total, there have been 129 NASCAR Cup Series races at Richmond Raceway, one event from 1953 - 1958 and two races per year since 1959 to 2019. Due to the pandemic, the series only raced at Richmond once in 2020.

 

The 129 NASCAR Cup Series races at Richmond Raceway have produced 55 different pole winners and 53 different race winners.

 

NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty (1961, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970 sweep, 1974, 1975) and Bobby Allison (1972 sweep, 1973 sweep, 1974, 1976, 1979, 1982) lead the NASCAR Cup Series in poles at Richmond with eight each. Denny Hamlin (2006, 2008 and 2016) leads all active pole winners at Richmond Raceway with three poles; followed by Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick with two each.

 

Of the 53 different NASCAR Cup Series drivers that have won at Richmond Raceway, 10 are active this weekend. NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty leads the NASCAR Cup Series in wins at Richmond Raceway with 13 victories (spring 1961, 1967 sweep, fall 1968, fall 1970, 1971 sweep, 1972 sweep, 1973 sweep, fall 1974 and spring 1975) – the third-most wins by a single driver at a single track in series history behind his 15 wins at Martinsville and North Wilkesboro. Joe Gibbs Racing’s driver Kyle Busch leads all active competitors in wins at Richmond with six victories. Brad Keselowski is the defending winner of this event and Alex Bowman is the most recent winner taking the checkered flag earlier this season.

 

Active NASCAR Cup Series Richmond Raceway Winners

 

Active Winners (10)

Wins

Seasons

Kyle Busch

6

2018 sweep, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009

Denny Hamlin

3

2016, 2010, 2009

Kevin Harvick

3

2013, 2011, 2006

Brad Keselowski

2

2020, 2014

Joey Logano

2

2017, 2014

Kurt Busch

2

2015, 2005

Martin Truex Jr

2

2019 sweep

Alex Bowman

1

2021

Kyle Larson

1

2017

Ryan Newman

1

2003

This weekend’s Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders will be 400 laps (300 miles in length) and will be broken up into three stages. The first stage will be 80 laps, the second stage will be 155 laps and the final stage will be 165 laps.

 

The starting lineups were decided by Metric Qualifying for this weekend’s Richmond event. Kyle Larson will start from the pole and last weekend’s Darlington winner Denny Hamlin will join him on the front row. 

 

Clinch Scenarios: Richmond Raceway

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin snapped a 31-race winless streak last weekend at Darlington Raceway taking the trophy for the first Playoff race of 2021. With the victory came the spoils and, in this instance, Hamlin is the only driver to clinch a spot in the Round of 12 with his victory. Now the series heads to Richmond this weekend for the Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders (Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) with 11 spots still up for grabs.

 

Already Clinched

The following driver has clinched a spot in the 12-driver field of the next round: Denny Hamlin.

 

Can Clinch Via Points

If there is a repeat winner or a win by a driver who cannot advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being 56 points above the 11th winless driver in the standings. The same point requirements listed below would hold true if a new win comes from among Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch, Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Christopher Bell, Chase Elliott or Aric Almirola.

 

Kyle Larson: Would clinch with 18 points if Denny Hamlin or Martin Truex Jr. wins, 19 points if Kurt Busch wins, 20 points if Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano or Kevin Harvick wins, 21 points if Brad Keselowski wins, 22 points if Christopher Bell, Chase Elliott or Aric Almirola wins

 

Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch, Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Christopher Bell, Chase Elliott, Aric Almirola: Could only clinch with help.

 

If there is a new winner from Tyler Reddick or another winless driver lower in the standings but still eligible to advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being 56 points above the 10th winless driver in the standings.

 

Kyle Larson: Would clinch with 22 points.

 

Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch, Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Christopher Bell, Chase Elliott, Aric Almirola: Could only clinch with help.

 

Can Clinch Via Win

The following drivers would clinch on their win alone: Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch, Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Christopher Bell, Chase Elliott, Aric Almirola, Tyler Reddick, Alex Bowman, Kyle Busch, William Byron, Michael McDowell

 

Denny Hamlin’s Darlington win has him cruising at Richmond

With his first win of the season, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin can hit cruise control for the next two races because his win at Darlington guarantees him a spot in the next round of the Playoffs. But what doesn’t bode well for the rest of the competition this weekend is Richmond Raceway is one of Hamlin’s best tracks.

 

It took 31 races, but Denny Hamlin made it back to Victory Lane in the NASCAR Cup Series and did so in a timely manner. With a victory guaranteed spot in the next round of the Playoffs, Hamlin can turn his attention to accumulating Playoff points to help carry him once he get to the Round of 12. Through the first 27 races, Hamlin has amassed 21 Playoffs and currently is second in the postseason standings.

 

Hamlin’s 2021 season has been very consistent posting one win (Darlington-2), 14 top fives and 18 top 10s.

 

Looking ahead to Richmond, Hamlin has made 29 series starts at the three-quarters-mile track posting three wins, 14 top fives and 18 top 10s. His average finish is 9.0. He last won at Richmond in 2016.

 

Playoff Bubble: Points are tight with two races remaining in the Round of 16

Obviously, a win this weekend at Richmond is the best-case scenario for the Playoff competitors not locked into the Round of 12, and for the four drivers currently below the cutline – Alex Bowman (-0), Kyle Busch (-2), William Byron (-9) and Michael McDowell (-20) – a good finish this weekend is a near necessity to keeping their Playoff campaign in motion.

 

NASCAR Cup Series Driver Playoff Outlook Following Race No. 27

Rank

Driver

Points

Race Wins

Stage Wins

Playoff Pts

Pts From Cutoff

1

Denny Hamlin

2,072

1

6

21

In On Wins

2

Kyle Larson

2,106

5

13

53

80

3

Martin Truex Jr.

2,062

3

5

24

36

4

Kurt Busch

2,052

1

3

8

26

5

Ryan Blaney

2,048

3

4

24

22

6

Joey Logano

2,047

1

5

13

21

7

Kevin Harvick

2,046

0

0

2

20

8

Brad Keselowski

2,038

1

2

8

12

9

Christopher Bell

2,031

1

0

5

5

10

Chase Elliott

2,030

2

3

21

4

11

Aric Almirola

2,029

1

0

5

3

12

Tyler Reddick

2,026

0

3

3

0

13

Alex Bowman

2,026

3

0

15

0

14

Kyle Busch

2,024

2

5

22

-2

15

William Byron

2,017

1

3

14

-9

16

Michael McDowell

2,006

1

0

5

-20

 

Following Darlington Raceway, the opening event of the 2021 Playoffs, Tyler Reddick (12th) and Alex Bowman (13th) are tied in points (2,026) straddling the Round of 12 Playoff cutline heading into Richmond Raceway this weekend, the track Bowman is the most recent winner. Reddick currently holds the tie breaker between the two due to his better finish at Darlington (18th). Alex Bowman on the other hand suffered a 26th-place finish after being one of four Playoff drivers that was involved in an incident at Darlington last weekend.

 

Kyle Busch, William Byron and Michael McDowell are all below the Round of 12 cutline and have just two races left to earn a spot to move on. This is McDowell’s first appearance in the Playoffs. Byron was eliminated from the Round of 16 last season in his first appearance in the Playoffs and is looking to improve his postseason resume this year. But Busch has never been eliminated in the Round of 16 since the elimination-style format was instituted in the Playoffs in 2014. Though, the only multi-time champion in the postseason this year, he has been eliminated from the Round of 12 twice in his Playoff career (2014, 2020); every other Playoffs he made the Championship 4 Round (2019, '18, '17, '16, '15) – which is tied with Kevin Harvick for the most Championship 4 Round appearances at five each.

 

Scouting Playoff challengers heading into Race #28 of 36

The best of the best in NASCAR are putting it all on the line this season for the Bill France Performance Cup trophy and the NASCAR Cup Series championship and it’s no surprise the level of competition continues to rise throughout the Playoffs. Below is a look at the top 16 contenders and their statistical outlook heading into Richmond this weekend (ordered by points position). 

 

Kyle Larson (No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet) is currently ranked first in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 2,106 points. This season, he has posted five wins, 15 top fives and 19 top 10s in 27 starts. He has led 1,722 laps and has an average finish of 9.4. He also leads the series in season-to-date driver rating with a 110.9. Larson also opened his 2021 Playoffs by finishing runner-up to Denny Hamlin at Darlington.

 

Looking ahead to Richmond, Larson has put up one win, two top fives and five top 10s in 13 starts. His average finish on the three-quarters-mile track is 12.231, (seventh-best among active drivers). Larson also ranks in the top 10 in three key pre-race Loop Data categories at Richmond: average running position (13.210), 10th-best; driver rating (87.6), ninth-best; and laps in the top 15 (3,645 laps; 69.9%), 10th-most.

 

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) is currently ranked second in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 2,072 points but has guaranteed his spot in the next round with his win at Darlington last weekend. This season, he has posted one win, 14 top fives and 18 top 10s in 27 starts. He has led 967 laps and has an average finish of 8.8. He also ranks second the series in season-to-date driver rating with a 108.1. Hamlin opened the 2021 Playoffs with a victory at Darlington Raceway snapping a 31-race winless streak that dated back Talladega (Oct.) last season. With the win Hamlin also tied NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart for third-most Playoff wins all-time at 11 each.

 

Peering ahead to Richmond, Hamlin has posted three wins, 14 top fives, 18 top 10s and three poles in 29 starts. His average finish on the three-quarters-mile track is 9.0, (third-best among active drivers). Hamlin also ranks in the top five in three key pre-race Loop Data categories at Richmond: average running position (8.083), third-best; driver rating (107.8), third-best; and laps in the top 15 (9,819 laps; 84.5%), third-most.

 

Martin Truex Jr. (No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) is currently ranked third in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 2,062 points; 36 points ahead of the Playoffs Round of 12 cutline. This season, Truex has collected three wins, nine top fives and 14 top 10s in 27 starts. He has led 695 laps and has an average finish of 12.6. He also ranks fifth in the series in season-to-date driver rating with a 97.1. The 2017 NASCAR Cup Series champion, Truex, has opened the 2021 Playoffs by finishing fourth at Darlington Raceway.

 

Heading to Richmond this weekend, Truex has put up two wins, seven top fives and 13 top 10s in 30 starts. His average finish on the three-quarters-mile track is 16.90, (16th-best among active drivers). Truex also ranks in the top 12 in three key pre-race Loop Data categories at Richmond: average running position (13.219), 11th-best; driver rating (93.3), seventh-best; and laps in the top 15 (7,999 laps; 66.5%), sixth-most.

 

Kurt Busch (No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet) is currently ranked fourth in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 2,052 points; 26 points ahead of the Playoffs Round of 12 cutline. This season, Busch has collected one win, four top fives and 10 top 10s in 27 starts. He has led 188 laps and has an average finish of 15.6. He also ranks 13th in the series in season-to-date driver rating with an 83.3. The 2004 NASCAR Cup Series champion, Kurt Busch, kicked off the 2021 Playoffs by finishing sixth at Darlington Raceway.

 

Looking to Richmond this weekend, Busch has put up two wins, seven top fives and 13 top 10s in 40 starts. His average finish on the three-quarters-mile track is 13.91, (10th-best among active drivers). He also ranks in the top 10 in three key pre-race Loop Data categories at Richmond: average running position (12.475), sixth-best; driver rating (93.8), fifth-best; and laps in the top 15 (8,709 laps; 67.9%), fourth-most.

 

Ryan Blaney (No. 12 Team Penske Ford) is currently ranked fifth in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 2,048 points; 22 points ahead of the Playoffs Round of 12 cutline. This season, Blaney has collected three wins, eight top fives and 14 top 10s in 27 starts. He has led 327 laps and has an average finish of 12.1. He also ranks eighth in the series in season-to-date driver rating with an 89.5. Blaney opened the 2021 Playoffs by finishing 22nd at Darlington Raceway.

 

Heading to Richmond this weekend, Blaney has posted a best finish of 11th in 10 starts. His average finish on the three-quarters-mile track is 23.5, (26th-best among active drivers). Blaney also ranks in the top 25 in three key pre-race Loop Data categories at Richmond: average running position (19.614), 19th-best; driver rating (63.3), 24th-best; and laps in the top 15 (1,263 laps; 31.5%), 19th-most.

 

Joey Logano (No. 22 Team Penske Ford) is currently ranked sixth in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 2,047 points; 21 points ahead of the Playoffs Round of 12 cutline. This season, Logano has posted one win, eight top fives and 14 top 10s in 27 starts. He has led 409 laps and has an average finish of 13.3. He also ranks seventh in the series in season-to-date driver rating with a 95.4. The 2018 NASCAR Cup Series champion, Logano, has opened the 2021 Playoffs by finishing eighth at Darlington Raceway.

 

Looking to Richmond this weekend, Logano has amassed two wins, 11 top fives and 14 top 10s in 24 starts. His average finish on the three-quarters-mile track is 10.50, (fifth-best among active drivers). Logano also ranks in the top 10 in three key pre-race Loop Data categories at Richmond: average running position (12.427), fifth-best; driver rating (93.4), sixth-best; and laps in the top 15 (5,970 laps; 62.1%), eighth-most.

 

Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford) is currently ranked seventh in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 2,046 points; 20 points ahead of the Playoffs Round of 12 cutline. This season, Harvick has collected seven top fives and 17 top 10s in 27 starts. He has led 129 laps and has an average finish of 11.2. He also ranks ninth in the series in season-to-date driver rating with an 89.4. The 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion, Harvick, has opened the 2021 Playoffs by finishing fifth at Darlington Raceway.

 

Looking to Richmond this weekend, Harvick has posted three wins, 15 top fives and 26 top 10s in 40 starts. His average finish on the three-quarters-mile track is 8.406, (second-best among active drivers). Harvick also ranks in the top five in three key pre-race Loop Data categories at Richmond: average running position (7.204), series-best; driver rating (109.8), second-best; and laps in the top 15 (11,934 laps; 93.0%), series-most.

 

Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Team Penske Ford) is currently ranked eighth in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 2,038 points; 12 points ahead of the Playoffs Round of 12 cutline. This season, Keselowski has posted one win, seven top fives and 11 top 10s in 27 starts. He has led 302 laps and has an average finish of 14.3. He also ranks 10th in the series in season-to-date driver rating with an 86.5. The 2012 NASCAR Cup Series champion, Keselowski, has opened the 2021 Playoffs by finishing seventh at Darlington Raceway.

 

Looking to Richmond this weekend, Keselowski has posted two wins, six top fives and 12 top 10s in 23 starts. His average finish on the three-quarters-mile track is 12.304, (eighth-best among active drivers). Keselowski also ranks in the top 10 in three key pre-race Loop Data categories at Richmond: average running position (9.881), fourth-best; driver rating (100.5), fourth-best; and laps in the top 15 (7,288 laps; 79.1%), seventh-most.

 

Christopher Bell (No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) is currently ranked ninth in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 2,031 points; just five points ahead of the Playoffs Round of 12 cutline. This season, Bell has posted one win, four top fives and 10 top 10s in 27 starts. He has led 78 laps and has an average finish of 17.1. He also ranks 12th in the series in season-to-date driver rating with an 84.4. Bell opened the 2021 Playoffs by finishing 20th at Darlington Raceway.

 

Looking to Richmond this weekend, Bell has posted one top five and one top 10 in two starts. His average finish on the three-quarters-mile track is 9.5, (fourth-best among active drivers). Bell also ranks in the top 25 in three key pre-race Loop Data categories at Richmond: average running position (12.661), seventh-best; driver rating (91.1), eighth-best; and laps in the top 15 (575 laps; 71.9%), 23rd-most.

 

Chase Elliott (No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet) is currently ranked 10th in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 2,030 points; just four points ahead of the Playoffs Round of 12 cutline. This season, Elliott has posted two wins, 11 top fives and 16 top 10s in 27 starts. He has led 337 laps and has an average finish of 11.8. He also ranks third in the series in season-to-date driver rating with a 99.9. The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion, Elliott, started his 2021 Playoffs with an incident and a 31st-place finish at Darlington Raceway.

 

Looking at Richmond this weekend, Elliott has made 11 starts at the historic track posting three top fives and four top 10s. His average finish on the three-quarters-mile track is 12.091, (sixth-best among active drivers). Elliott also ranks in the top 15 in three key pre-race Loop Data categories at Richmond: average running position (12.959), eighth-best; driver rating (85.9), 11th-best; and laps in the top 15 (2,899 laps; 65.7%), 12th-most.

 

Aric Almirola (No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford) is currently ranked 11th in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 2,029 points; a mere three points ahead of the Playoffs Round of 12 cutline. This season, Almirola has posted one win, two top fives and three top 10s in 27 starts. He has led 51 laps and has an average finish of 20.8. He also ranks 21st in the series in season-to-date driver rating with a 65.3. Almirola kicked off his 2021 Playoffs by finishing 16th at Darlington Raceway.

 

Heading to Richmond this weekend, Almirola has posted two top fives and seven top 10s in 18 starts. His average finish on the three-quarters-mile track is 15.05, (12th-best among active drivers). Almirola also ranks in the top 15 in three key pre-race Loop Data categories at Richmond: average running position (16.496), 15th-best; driver rating (78.2), 13th-best; and laps in the top 15 (3,133 laps; 43.4%), 11th-most.

 

Tyler Reddick (No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet) is currently ranked 12th in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 2,026 points; the last position in a transfer spot to the Playoffs Round of 12. Reddick currently holds the tie breaker with 13th place Alex Bowman due to their finishes at Darlington – Reddick finished 18th and Bowman finished 26th.

 

This season, Reddick has posted two top fives and 13 top 10s in 27 starts. He has led 26 laps and has an average finish of 14.7. He also ranks 14th in the series in season-to-date driver rating with an 80.1. Reddick started his Playoffs campaign with a 18th-place finish at Darlington Raceway.

 

Looking to Richmond this weekend, Reddick has made two starts posting a best finish of 11th in 2020. He finished 20th at Richmond earlier this season. His average finish on the three-quarters-mile track is 15.50, (13th-best among active drivers). Reddick also ranks in the top 25 in three key pre-race Loop Data categories at Richmond: average running position (15.438), 13th-best; driver rating (73.8), 16th-best; and laps in the top 15 (431 laps; 53.9%), 24th-most.

 

Alex Bowman (No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet) is currently ranked 13th in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 2,026 points; the first position outside the Playoffs Round of 12 cutline. Reddick currently holds the tie breaker with Bowman due to their finishes at Darlington – Reddick finished 18th and Bowman finished 26th.

 

This season, Bowman has posted three wins, six top fives and 13 top 10s in 27 starts; including winning at Richmond Raceway earlier this season. He has led 151 laps and has an average finish of 14.6 on the year. He also ranks 11th in the series in season-to-date driver rating with an 85.1. Bowman was caught in an incident and finished the opening race to the Playoffs at Darlington 26th.

 

Looking to Richmond this weekend, Bowman is the most recent winner at the track. In total he has made two starts posting one win, one top five and two top 10s. His average finish on the three-quarters-mile track is 21.60, (21st-best among active drivers). Bowman also ranks in the top 25 in three key pre-race Loop Data categories at Richmond: average running position (22.204), 23rd-best; driver rating (65.5), 20th-best; and laps in the top 15 (1,399 laps; 35.0%), 16th-most.

 

Kyle Busch (No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) is currently ranked 14th in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 2,024 points; just two points back from the Playoffs Round of 12 cutline. This season, Kyle Busch has collected two wins, 11 top fives and 16 top 10s in 27 starts. He has led 247 laps and has an average finish of 13.0. He also ranks fourth in the series in season-to-date driver rating with a 97.5. The two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion (2015, 2019), Busch, has opened the 2021 Playoffs by finishing 35th at Darlington Raceway after being caught in an incident with Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Dillon.

 

Heading to Richmond this weekend, Busch has put up a series-most six wins, 18 top fives and 24 top 10s in 31 starts. His average finish on the three-quarters-mile track is 6.806, (series-best among active drivers). Busch also ranks in the top five in three key pre-race Loop Data categories at Richmond: average running position (7.624), second-best; driver rating (110.1), series-best; and laps in the top 15 (11,079 laps; 89.1%), second-most.

 

William Byron (No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet) is currently ranked 15th in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 2,017 points; nine points back from the Playoffs Round of 12 cutline. This season, Byron has posted one win, nine top fives and 16 top 10s in 27 starts. He has led 276 laps and has an average finish of 113.9. He also ranks 12th in the series in season-to-date driver rating with an 84.4. Bell opened the 2021 Playoffs by finishing 20th at Darlington Raceway.

 

Looking to Richmond this weekend, Byron has posted one top-10 finish in six starts. His average finish on the three-quarters-mile track is 16.33, (15th-best among active drivers). Byron also ranks in the top 25 in three key pre-race Loop Data categories at Richmond: average running position (15.420), 12th-best; driver rating (77.5), 14th-best; and laps in the top 15 (1,231 laps; 51.2%), 21st-most.

 

Michael McDowell (No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford) is currently ranked 16th in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 2,006 points; 20 points back from the Playoffs Round of 12 cutline. This season, McDowell has posted one win (Daytona 500), two top fives and five top 10s in 27 starts. He has led 26 laps and has an average finish of 20.3. He also ranks 24th in the series in season-to-date driver rating with a 63.2. McDowell opened the 2021 Playoffs by finishing 37th at Darlington Raceway after being caught in a multi-car incident.

 

Looking to Richmond this weekend, McDowell has 20 starts at the short track posting a best finish of 12th in 2016. He finished 27th at Richmond earlier this season. His average finish on the three-quarters-mile track is 31.950, (39th-best among active drivers). McDowell also ranks in the top 40 in three key pre-race Loop Data categories at Richmond: average running position (31.887), 37th-best; driver rating (44.5), 35th-best; and laps in the top 15 (178 laps; 2.2%), 30th-most.

 

NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.

 

NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2021 Induction Slated for January 21 - The NASCAR Hall of Fame and NASCAR are pleased to announce that the Class of 2021 Induction Ceremony will take place in Charlotte on Friday, January 21, 2022. The Ceremony was originally scheduled for February 5, 2021 but was postponed due to the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19.

 

Inductees Dale Earnhardt Jr., Red Farmer, Mike Stefanik and Landmark Award recipient Ralph Seagraves will be honored as part of a weekend full of activities and events. Tickets go on sale October 7.

 

“We are thrilled to celebrate these legends’ significant accomplishments and contributions to NASCAR alongside their families, friends and fans,” said Winston Kelley, Executive Director of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. “The decision to postpone was very difficult but the right thing to do. With the planned evolution from five to three inductees with the Class of 2021, NASCAR and the NASCAR Hall of Fame teams saw an opportunity to take a fresh look at our schedule of events for Induction Weekend and are excited about what we have created. It’s always a special time for each honoree and their families and friends and will be a truly memorable weekend for our fans and guests alike.” 

 

To celebrate the Class of 2021, the NASCAR Hall of Fame will again have three days of special events and programming – including an exclusive insiders experience, a brunch event with NASCAR Hall of Famers and behind-the-scenes looks at pieces of racing history.  

 

Editor’s note: Images associated with this announcement can be found here

23XI Racing announces Steve Lauletta as Team President - This week 23XI Racing announced that veteran motorsports executive Steve Lauletta, who has served as its interim president since the team’s formation last year, has been named the team’s president.

 

“Steve has been invaluable to our team from day one,” said Denny Hamlin, co-owner of 23XI Racing. “When we launched the team last year, we needed someone with experience who could jump right in, and Lauletta was the perfect fit. He’s done a phenomenal job and we are thrilled to have him as our team president.”

 

Lauletta joined 23XI Racing after a 10-year tenure at Chip Ganassi Racing that ended in 2018. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Lauletta previously worked in sports marketing with Miller Brewing Company and continues to successfully run his own sports marketing consultancy company, Pigeon Sports Marketing, which was launched in 2018.

 

“The unique opportunity to continue to work alongside this ownership group to build a race team focused on making significant contributions both on and off the track is one I couldn’t pass up,” said Lauletta. “I am fortunate to be part of 23XI Racing and I look forward to enhancing existing relationships, adding new partners and growing the organization into one that contends for race wins each week and championships each year.”

 

Open Team Beard Motorsports set to return in 2022 – This week Beard Motorsports became the first non-chartered NASCAR Cup Series team to announce its intention to compete in the 64th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 20 at Daytona International Speedway.

 

 The organization founded by the late Mark Beard Sr., and now run by his wife, Linda Beard, has procured a NextGen chassis for its use in 2022. Plans are for the No. 62 Beard Oil Distributing Chevrolet to compete in subsequent races at Daytona and its sister track, Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. A driver has not yet been determined.

 

“My father was passionate about racing, and he took a great deal of pride in coming to Daytona and competing against the biggest names in the sport,” said Amie Beard, executive vice president, Beard Motorsports. “He passed away just before this year’s Daytona 500 and his presence was definitely missed. We didn’t make the race, and with no qualifying available at the other superspeedway races, we didn’t have the opportunity to race again. We’ve got some unfinished business, and that’s why we’re coming back to Daytona.”

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series

 

Only Two Chances Remain; Xfinity Series Playoffs Looming

Noah Gragson wasn’t a lock in the Playoffs until this past weekend at Darlington Raceway, where he won his first race of the 2021 season only a few days after announcing that he would be returning to JR Motorsports in 2022.

 

Gragson, who was sitting above the Playoff cutline in ninth, has now officially punched his ticket to the postseason which means that there are only three spots up for grabs in the 12-driver field.

 

The win marked the third of Gragson’s career as he took the checkered flag on Lap 152 at the end of the only overtime attempt.

 

Harrison Burton, who locked himself into the Playoffs two weekends ago on points, finished runner-up to Gragson and Austin Cindric finished third. Justin Haley, Jeb Burton, Justin Allgaier, Tyler Reddick, Jeremy Clements, Myatt Snider and Alex Labbe rounded out the top 10.

 

Brandon Jones, one of the drivers fighting for a spot in the Playoff field, struggled at Darlington early and ended up finished 33rd. He was the lowest finishing driver in the Playoff picture.

This weekend, the series heads to Richmond Raceway for the Go Bowling 250 on Saturday, September 11 at 2:30 p.m. ET to kick off a doubleheader on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

 

The race will be 187.5 miles (250 laps) and will be broken up into three stages. Stage 1 will end on Lap 75 and Stage 2 will end on Lap 150.

 

This weekend’s starting lineup was decided by Metric Qualifying and as a result Austin Cindric will lead the field to green on Saturday with Harrison Burton joining him on the front row. Gragson will start third with Haley and Allgaier rounding out the top-five starting positions.

 

Looking Back: Richmond By The Numbers

Last season, the NASCAR Xfinity Series visited Richmond Raceway twice and Justin Allgaier swept both races at the .750-mile track for JR Motorsports and this weekend is looking to become just the third driver is series history to win three consecutive races at Richmond; joining Harry Gant (1991 sweep, 1992 spring and Kevin Harvick (2005 fall, 2006 sweep).

 

This weekend marks the first visit to the Virginia track for the series in 2021 and the 75th race in NASCAR Xfinity Series history at the three-quarters-mile track.

 

The previous 74 Xfinity Series races at Richmond have produced 39 different pole winner and 36 different race winners. Kyle Busch holds the record for the youngest pole winner in 2004 at 19 years, 0 months, 12 days. Harry Gant holds the record as the oldest pole winner at 48 years, 8 months, 0 days in 1988. Both Kyle Busch and Gant also hold the records for the youngest winner (Busch in 2004) and the oldest winner (Gant was 52 in 1992). Only 15 races in history have been won from the pole or first starting position, most recently it was done by Christopher Bell in 2018.

 

In the last Xfinity race at Richmond in 2020, there were 36 cars entered in the race and 33 of them were running at the finish. Fourteen cars finished on the lead lap. There were nine lead changes, six different leaders and five cautions for 29 laps. Allgaier, the race winner, led 135 laps and the margin of victory was 2.185 seconds.

 

Back Again: Dale Earnhardt Jr. comes out of the TV booth to go racing in Richmond

It’s that time of year again as Dale Earnhardt Jr. gets back behind the wheel of a racecar to compete in one NASCAR Xfinity Series event. Earnhardt, who is an analyst in the NBC booth, retired from fulltime racing in 2017.

 

Earnhardt has returned for one race a season, piloting a Chevrolet from his own JR Motorsports camp, since 2018. In 2018, he ran at Richmond Raceway and in 2019, he ran at Darlington Raceway. Last season, he ran at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

 

The two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion has 142 series starts with 24 wins, 70 top fives, 94 top 10s and 10 poles. His most recent win in the series was in 2016 at Richmond.

 

Richmond has been a good place to Earnhardt. In his eight Xfinity Series starts at the track, he has four wins, six top fives and seven top 10s. He led 829 laps and has an average finish of 6.4.

 

To recognize the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet will recognize those lost during the attacks with a special United for America paint scheme with long-time partner Unilever. The scheme will mirror the 9/11 Memorial and Museum’s Tribute in Light, a powerful tradition that began in 2002 in New York. From dawn to dusk, twin beams extend four miles into the sky above Manhattan, reflecting the shape and orientation of the Twin Towers.

 

The No. 8’s blue and white scheme will feature four spotlights each representing the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and the Flight 92 Memorial site.

 

Intense Battle for Xfinity Series’ Regular Season Championship

With Team Penske’s Austin Cindric finishing 39th at Daytona two weekends ago and Kaulig Racing’s AJ Allmendinger finishing runner-up, the battle for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Regular Season Championship tightened. However, last weekend at Darlington Raceway it got even closer when Cindric took advantage of Allmendinger’s late-race issue and closed the points gap to just one point with only two races remaining in the regular season - Cindric finished third while Allmendinger finished 20th. Now only two races are left for one of them to lock up the Regular Season Championship and the 15 additional Playoff points that go along with it.

 

Prior to losing the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver standings lead two weekends ago at Daytona, Austin Cindric had held the No. 1 spot all season long. Cindric won the Regular Season Championship last season and is looking to become the first driver to win multiple regular season titles.

 

Regular Season Champions

Rank

Titles

Drivers

Years

1

1

Austin Cindric

2020

   

Tyler Reddick

2019

   

Justin Allgaier

2018

   

Elliott Sadler

2017

 

Allmendinger only has one Xfinity Series start at Richmond from 2007. He started 12th and finished 14th. Cindric, however, has six starts at Richmond since 2018 and has posted four top fives, including two runner-up finishes, and five top 10s. His average start is 6.5 and average finish is 6.0.

 

Clinch Scenarios: Time is running out in the regular season

With just two races remaining in the NASCAR Xfinity Series regular season, three Playoff positions are still up for grabs, as nine drivers have secured their spot in the NASCAR Xfinity Series postseason heading into this weekend’s race at Richmond Raceway.

 

Already Clinched

The following nine drivers have clinched a spot in the 12-driver postseason field: AJ Allmendinger, Austin Cindric, Justin Allgaier, Daniel Hemric, Harrison Burton, Justin Haley, Noah Gragson, Jeb Burton, Myatt Snider.

 

Can Clinch Via Points

If there is a repeat winner or a win by a driver who cannot advance to the Playoffs, the following drivers could clinch by being 56 points above the fifth winless driver in the standings.  The same point requirements listed below would hold true if a new win comes from among Daniel Hemric, Harrison Burton, Jeremy Clements or Brandon Jones.

  • Jeremy Clements: Could only clinch with help
  • Brandon Jones: Could only clinch with help

 

If there is a new winner from Riley Herbst or another winless driver lower in the standings but still eligible to advance to the playoffs, the following drivers could clinch by being 56 points above the 4th winless driver in the standings. Jeremy Clements: Could only clinch with help.

 

Can Clinch Via Win

The following drivers would clinch on their win alone: Jeremy Clements, Brandon Jones, Riley Herbst, Ryan Sieg, Brandon Brown.

 

The following drivers could clinch with a win and with help: Tommy Joe Martins, Josh Williams, Landon Cassill and Alex Labbe.

 

Can Clinch Regular Season Championship

Additionally, the Regular Season Championship could be clinched by the following drivers:

AJ Allmendinger: Could only clinch with help

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs Standings Post-Darlington-2:

Rank

Driver

Points

Starts

Race Wins

Stage Wins

Playoff Pts

Pts From Cutoff

1

Austin Cindric

954

24

5

9

34

In On Wins

2

AJ Allmendinger

955

24

3

8

23

3

Justin Allgaier

839

24

2

1

11

4

Justin Haley

784

23*

1

5

10

5

Noah Gragson

772

24

1

3

8

6

Jeb Burton

748

24

1

1

6

 

7

Myatt Snider

546

24

1

0

5

 

8

Daniel Hemric

808

24

0

6

6

Clinched on Points

9

Harrison Burton

799

24

0

2

2

Clinched on Points

10

Jeremy Clements

587

24

0

0

0

78

11

Brandon Jones

574

24

0

1

1

65

12

Riley Herbst

555

24

0

0

0

46

13

Michael Annett

509

20*

0

0

0

-46

14

Ryan Sieg

471

24

0

0

0

-84

15

Brandon Brown

452

24

0

0

0

-103

 

With Noah Gragson’s win last weekend to punch his way into the Playoffs, there are only three spots up for grabs. They are currently occupied by Jeremy Clements, Brandon Jones and Riley Herbst.

 

AJ Allmendinger took over the points standings from Austin Cindric, who led the way most of the season, after his runner-up finish at Daytona International Speedway two weekends ago. Cindric finished 39th at Daytona after being involved in a wreck early in the race, while Allmendinger finished runner-up. However, Cindric was able to fight back and make it only a one-point difference after his third-place finish at Darlington last weekend while Allmendinger ran into some late-race issues.

 

Manufacturer standings outlook after Darlington

As we take a look at the Playoffs standings, with another win to their name, Chevrolet holds the lead for the manufacturer’s championship, too.

 

Chevrolet has 10 wins and 882 points while Toyota has nine wins and 860 points, 22 points behind Chevrolet. Ford had five wins and 798 points.

 

Manufacturers Championship

OEMs

Wins

Points

Chevrolet

10

882

Toyota

9

860

Ford

5

798

 

 

Keeping an eye on the rookie class

Ty Gibbs and Josh Berry have been the stars of the 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series rookie class. The two drivers, who have competed part-time in the series, have gone back and forth with the lead since the start of the season.

Currently, up-and-coming driver Ty Gibbs has eight awards and 447, holding the lead on Berry in second place with 435 points and six awards. Both Gibbs and Berry are entered this weekend at Richmond Raceway.

Gibbs has made 12 starts this season and has three wins, eight top fives, eight top 10s and one pole award.

Berry has run in 17 of 24 races this season and has one win, five top fives and 10 top 10s.

Ryan Vargas is in third in the rookie standings with four awards, Jade Buford is in fourth and Sam Mayer is in fifth. Every driver in the rookie standings has won at least one award throughout the season.

 

Sunoco Rookie of the Year

Rookies

Points

Awards

Ty Gibbs

447

8

Josh Berry

435

6

Ryan Vargas

231

4

Jade Buford

215

3

Sam Mayer

123

2

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.

 

Ogata making second career start at Richmond: Akinori Ogata will make his second career Xfinity Series start at Richmond Raceway on Saturday in the No. 52 Jimmy Means Racing Chevrolet. Ogata has competed in three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races this season for Reaume Brothers Racing and his best finish was earlier this season at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 28th. In 2018, he made a start for MBM Motorsports and finished 33rd. This will be his first start since then. Ogata is the only driver from Japan to make a start in the NASCAR Xfinity Series all-time.

 

 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

 

Sheldon Creed keeps racking up Playoffs wins, going for Round of 10 sweep

GMS Racing’s Sheldon Creed has been unstoppable in this season’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs taking the first two (Gateway and Darlington) of three races in the Round of 10, and now the Californian is looking to become the first driver in the series history to sweep Playoff round next weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway in the UNOH 200 presented by Ohio Logistics on Sept. 16 at 9 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90). 

 

In 17 starts this season, Creed has produced three wins, eight top fives and nine top 10s. His average finish is 13.1. and he has led 304 laps.

 

Creed has made two series starts at Bristol Motor Speedway posting one top-10 finish – sixth in his debut at the track. He finished 11th in this event last season.

 

Kyle Busch Motorsport’s John Hunter Nemechek moves to the next round on points

All those regular season wins, and additional Playoff points are starting to pay dividends for John Hunter Nemechek in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs. With his runner-up finish last weekend Darlington he has already clinched his spot in the Round of 8 on points making next weekend at Bristol a breeze.

 

Nemechek has been the class of the field this season posting five wins (series-most), 10 top fives and 13 top 10s.

 

Next week at Bristol expect Nemechek to run upfront again. He has made six series starts at Bristol posting three top fives and five top 10s. His average finish at Thunder Valley is an impressive 8.7.

 

Camping World Truck Clinch Scenarios for Bristol Motor Speedway

Next week at Bristol Motor Speedway the first round of the 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs will come to a close and two of the 10-driver Playoff field will be eliminated. Two drivers have already locked themselves into the Round of 8, leaving just six spots available among the remaining eight drivers.

 

Already Clinched

The following two drivers have clinched a spot in the eight-driver field of the next round: Sheldon Creed and John Hunter Nemechek.

 

Can Clinch Via Points

If there is a repeat winner or a win by a driver who cannot advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being ahead of the 8th winless driver in the standings. The same point requirements listed below would hold true if a new win comes from among John Hunter Nemechek, Matt Crafton, Stewart Friesen, Ben Rhodes, Todd Gilliland, Carson Hocevar or Austin Hill.

  • Matt Crafton: Would clinch with 21 points
  • Stewart Friesen: Would clinch with 23 points
  • Ben Rhodes: Would clinch with 41 points
  • Todd Gilliland: Would clinch with 45 points
  • Carson Hocevar: Would clinch with 48 points
  • Austin Hill: Would clinch with 51 points
  • Zane Smith: Could only clinch with help
  • Chandler Smith: Could only clinch with help

 

If there is a new winner from Zane Smith or another winless driver lower in the standings but still eligible to advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being ahead of the 7th winless driver in the standings.

  • Matt Crafton: Would clinch with 25 points
  • Stewart Friesen: Would clinch with 27 points
  • Ben Rhodes: Would clinch with 45 points
  • Todd Gilliland: Would clinch with 50 points
  • Carson Hocevar: Would clinch with 52 points
  • Austin Hill: Would clinch with 55 points
  • Zane Smith: Could only clinch with help
  • Chandler Smith: Could only clinch with help

 

Can Clinch Via Win

The following drivers would clinch on their win alone: Matt Crafton, Stewart Friesen, Ben Rhodes, Todd Gilliland, Carson Hocevar, Austin Hill, Zane Smith, Chandler Smith.

 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Etc.

 

Nemechek racing in Richmond – NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoff driver John Hunter Nemechek isn’t taking this weekend off, but instead will be piloting the No. 26 Sam Hunt Racing Toyota at Richmond Raceway in the Go Bowling 250 on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. This will be Nemechek’s second Xfinity start for Sam Hunt Racing of the season. Nemechek has made three Xfinity Series starts at Richmond Raceway posting one top 10 and an average finish of 11.7.

 

NASCAR PR

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