Due to morning rain and storms Saturday, race officials cancelled NASCAR Cup Series practice and qualifying sessions. The starting lineup for the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway has been determined by the NASCAR rule book.
TEAM CHEVY UNOFFICIAL STARTING LINEUP:
1st Alex Bowman, No. 48 Ally Camaro ZL1
2nd Kyle Busch, No. 8 3CHI Camaro ZL1
3rd William Byron, No. 24 RaptorTough.com Camaro ZL1
4th Ross Chastain, No. 1 Jockey Camaro ZL1
8th Ricky Stenhouse, No. 47 Kroger/Kraft Mac & Cheese Camaro ZL1
9th Kyle Larson, No. 5 HendrickCars.com Camaro ZL1
16th Corey LaJoie, No. 7 BlueGreen Vacations Camaro ZL1
20th Daniel Suárez, No. 99 Quaker State Camaro ZL1
22nd Erik Jones, No. 43 U.S. AIR FORCE Camaro ZL1
23rd Noah Gragson, No. 42 Sunseeker Resort Camaro ZL1
25th AJ Allmendinger, No. 16 Action Industries Camaro ZL1
27th Austin Dillon, No. 3 BREZTRI Aerosphere Camaro ZL1
29th Justin Haley, No. 31 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Camaro ZL1
30th Josh Berry, No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Camaro ZL1
35th Anthony Alfredo, No. 78 DUDE WIPES Camaro ZL1
36th Ty Dillon, No. 77 NationsGuard Camaro ZL1
37th Chandler Smith, No. 13 Quick Tie Products, Inc. Camaro ZL1
TOP-FIVE UNOFFICIAL STARTING LINEUP:
1st Alex Bowman (Chevrolet)
2nd Kyle Busch (Chevrolet)
3rd William Byron (Chevrolet)
4th Ross Chastain (Chevrolet)
5th Tyler Reddick (Toyota)
· FS1 will broadcast the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 on Sunday, April 2, at 3:30 p.m. ET. Live coverage can also be found on MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 48 ALLY CAMARO ZL1 – POLE WINNER
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE IN STARTING FIRST VERSUS STARTING FIFTH?
“Pit stall selection, I think, is probably the biggest thing. You’d probably still have a pretty good pit stall at fifth, though. So not a huge difference. Having clean air and all that at the start is important. Hopefully we’ll take advantage of a good pit pick and have a good, solid day. This has been a hard place for me to get a hold of in the past, even with a win here. So just trying to maximize the day and keep chipping away at it.”
IS IT ANY DIFFERENT WALKING INTO THE GARAGE TO THE FIRST PIT STALL RATHER THAN THE 16TH?
“It’s definitely nice. It’s something I haven’t done in my career. So it’s cool to lead the points with this crew. Obviously we’re a handful of races in, so it’s a small sample size. But we have had a good start to the season, which feels really good. It’s my job to keep that going.”
WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER FROM YOUR WIN HERE A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO THAT YOU CAN APPLY TOMORROW?
“We’ve had some strong runs here. Honestly last year in the spring, we had a really strong run. We had a tire issue on one run that probably made our day look worse than it was. Really the day we won, we were really good on long runs. We struggled a little bit on the short run and had an uncontrolled tire to start Stage Three, so I had to start at the back and still drove to third before we got that late caution. We’ve kind of been hit and miss here a bit, but hopefully I can apply some of that long-run knowledge that I have or what I’m looking for in the racecar to help us tomorrow. I feel like you’re going to see a lot of long runs for the most part. With no downforce on the thing, it’s going to be a lot about taking care of your tires.”
WE’VE SEEN THIS BE A STRATEGY RACE IN THE PAST WITH THE WORN-OUT SURFACE. WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR TOMORROW?
“Long runs and a ton of tire fall-off… kind of the same Richmond we’ve always seen. This is the one place that I don’t think that the downforce package is going to really change much. The tire fall-off always has been so high since this place has gotten worn out; it’s always been kind of what it is. I don’t even really feel like the race changed much when we went from the previous gen car to this car, so it’ll be interesting to see. I could be totally wrong but I think we’ll hopefully have a good day tomorrow.”
ON BEING BACK WITH GREG IVES.
“It’s been cool. He had a short retirement, right? I’m glad to have Greg back and glad to have that depth at Hendrick Motorsports to have a guy like that to fill in when needed. I enjoy working with Greg, and it’s been good to have him back.”
LEADING THE POINTS, BEST AVERAGE FINISH AND SO ON… WHAT’S BEEN GOING RIGHT FOR THIS TEAM?
“Execution. We’ve maximized our bad days. We struggled a little bit at Phoenix but still ended up in the top-10. At Atlanta, if the last lap goes a little different then we finish in the top-10 there, too. I feel like just maximizing our bad days and maximizing each little part and piece of everything throughout the races. This is a small sample size. It feels good to be leading points and to have this season that we’re having so far. We’re six races in and so much can change. We’re trying to continue that each and every week to keep that going.”
WHAT HAS IT BEEN AT RICHMOND THAT HAS BEEN A STRUGGLE?
“It’s been tough. We’ve had good days here and then we’ve had really bad days. You have a good day here and I’ve kind of left… Like last spring or even the race we won, I’m like ‘Man, I know exactly what we need and I know the feel that I want to have.’ Then we come back for the fall and be confused and can’t find that or can’t get the racecar to do the same things or feel the same way. So we’ve been a little more hit-and-miss than we want to be. We didn’t practice so it’s hard to say, but I think we identified some things that can help me. Hopefully with the right direction in the racecar we’ll be strong tomorrow.”
ON THE RESPECT BETWEEN DRIVERS ON-TRACK.
“They’re completely right. There’s no way around it. That second-to-last restart at COTA was a good example of that. I did not want to go down there and run into the 99 and the 19. The problem is that if I follow the 99 into the corner, then I get absolutely run over by everybody. So I get left just to try and defend that, but I still get runover by everybody and shoved into the corner. Fortunately it worked out for us but didn’t for those guys. If you are the super-clean guy and you’re not aggressive or anything, you’re typically going to be the guy getting used up. The cars are about indestructible at this point. The old car, you’d have tire rubs or knock the radiator out of it. We hit each other so hard all the time. At the Coliseum, it felt like you were crashing on every restart. It’s kind of crazy how hard we run into each other. I don’t like it. I’ve always tried to race super clean and I feel like I’ve been one of the cleaner, more fair guys at times – almost to a detriment. I don’t love racing like that but at some point if you’re not aggressive, you’re going to just finish bad every week. It’s also my job to maximize my finishing position for my race team and doing the best I can to achieve that and not be in the drama; we were in the drama a little bit last week but it’s a pain in the butt.”
WHAT’S THE FIX FOR THAT?
“I don’t think you can blame a racecar when we have three pedals, a steering wheel and a shifter. Everybody has the same thing and can avoid that. We don’t do it on the initial start of the races. We just do it at the end. So at that point, I don’t think you can just blame the car. I think the problem is that that gets rewarded. That style of driving absolutely gets rewarded where we are right now. I don’t know what the fix is. I think it’s a tough spot. I personally would love to see us do restarts in a different manner at road courses, whether that’s how F1 does it or just something different. The Turn One stuff at COTA and at Indy and possibly at Chicago is a bit much, but I think it’s a shared blame between the drivers and cars. It’s the situation we’re in. Every driver here is paid to maximize their finish and everybody sees that being aggressive and doing that stuff is going to help you. At some point, you’re just stuck in a corner where you have to or you’re just giving up positions, which if you give up positions, your team isn’t going to be happy with you. It’s an awkward box that we’re all in. Trying to tiptoe around that and be on the right side of things is tough sometimes.”
THIS THREE-RACE, SHORT-TRACK SWING COMING UP… YOUR THOUGHTS ON GOING INTO THOSE RACES AND IS THERE A STRATEGY FOR NEXT WEEK?
“For next week, I don’t know. It’s obviously an interesting race. I’m interested to see how it plays out. I unfortunately looked at the weather (for Bristol) today, and I’m a little nervous. Hopefully that changes. I think it’s a bit different. It’s somewhat fun depending on how the racetrack is and how the race goes for you. I love short-track racing. This place and Martinsville are super-technical. This place, especially, in trying to keep the rear tires on it and trying to find little bits of grip and trying to be smart when you’re racing guys is difficult at times but technical and fun. I like this stretch. It’s some good tracks for us. Hopefully racing the sprint car a little more helps me at Bristol even though they couldn’t be more different. At least I’ll have some dirt laps. I don’t know… we’ll see how it goes.”
THOUGHTS ON THIS PACKAGE AND HOW IT WILL PRODUCE AT MARTINSVILLE.
“I don’t think it’ll change much here. Hopefully it changes Martinsville because last year was not what we all wanted for Martinsville. It wasn’t what we all came to love about that place. Hopefully it improves the racing there… getting the tire to fall off, getting the rear tires to wear out, creating forward drive issues to where you can’t just downshift and accelerate off the corner and stop in the center of the corner and beat the guy behind you. We’ll see. I’m hopeful. It’s a step in the right direction. I think it’s really going to be about the weather, how the rubber lays down and how the tire falls off more than anything.”