NASCAR Cup Series News & Notes – Richmond Raceway

NASCAR’s Next Gen car has competed on superspeedways, intermediates, and road courses but this weekend is the first points-paying race on a short track, and not just any short track. The series heads to Virginia for the Toyota Owners 400 (April 3 at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) on the 0.75-mile Richmond Raceway.

The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season has been filled with stellar on-track competition producing six different winners in as many races; including three first-time winners (Austin Cindric, Chase Briscoe and Ross Chastain). Plus, the series has seen four different driver point standings leaders through the first six races, with Hendrick Motorsport’s driver Chase Elliott currently out front.

This weekend, the NASCAR Cup Series prepares for the close, beating and banging racing the fans love at short tracks like Richmond. 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 won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Lee Petty in a Petty Enterprises Dodge with an average speed of 45.535 mph. The track surface was changed from dirt to asphalt between races in 1968. In total, Richmond Raceway has hosted the NASCAR Cup Series 130 times producing 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. Six of the 55 NASCAR Cup Series Richmond Raceway pole winners are active this weekend, led by Denny Hamlin (2006, 2008, 2016) and Kevin Harvick (2005, 2018, 2019) with three poles each.

Rank Active Pole Winners Poles Season
1 Kevin Harvick 3 2019, 2018, 2005
2 Denny Hamlin 3 2016, 2008, 2006
3 Brad Keselowski 2 2019, 2014
4 Joey Logano 2 2015 sweep
5 Kyle Busch 1 2010
6 Martin Truex Jr 1 2018

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. Nine of the 53 NASCAR Cup Series Richmond Raceway winners are active this weekend, led by Kyle Busch with six victories (spring 2009, spring 2010, spring 2011, spring 2012, 2018 sweep). Hendrick Motorsport’s driver Alex Bowman is the defending winner of this weekend’s race at Richmond Raceway.

Rank Active Race Winners Wins Season
1 Kyle Busch 6 2018 sweep, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009
2 Denny Hamlin 3 2016, 2010, 2009
3 Kevin Harvick 3 2013, 2011, 2006
4 Martin Truex Jr 3 2021, 2019 sweep
5 Brad Keselowski 2 2020, 2014
6 Joey Logano 2 2017, 2014
7 Kurt Busch 2 2015, 2005
8 Alex Bowman 1 2021
9 Kyle Larson 1 2017

All the on-track action begins on Saturday, April 2 with practice from 10:30 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. ET and immediately followed by Busch Light Pole Qualifying from 11:15 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. ET. Both events will be broadcast on FS1.

NASCAR Cup Series

Next Race: Toyota Owners 400

The Place: Richmond Raceway

The Date: Sunday, April 3

The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET

The Purse: $7,110,735

TV: FOX, 3 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 300 miles (400 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 70),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 230), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 400)

First-time winners aplenty, who’s next?

Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain became the third first-time NASCAR Cup Series winner of the 2022 season (Austin Cindric, Daytona; Chase Briscoe, Phoenix) last weekend with his big victory at the Circuit of The Americas. The win makes 2022 the first time since 2001 the series has seen three first-time winners in the first six races of a season. Now with the series heading to Richmond Raceway this weekend for the Toyota Owners 400, what are the chances a fourth new winner is sitting in Victory Lane on Sunday? If a first-time winner takes the checkered flag this weekend at Richmond, the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season would become the first season in the Modern Era (1972-Present) with four or more first time winners in the first seven races of a season and just the third all-time; behind the series inaugural season in 1949 (six first-time winners) and its sophomore season in 1950 (five first-time winners).

The 1950 season holds the NASCAR Cup Series record for the most first-time winners in a single season with 12 different drivers getting their first win that year. The 2001, 2002 and 2011 seasons are tied for the series-most first-time winners in a single season in the Modern Era with five first-time winners each.

Richmond Raceway has been the home to five first-time winners in the NASCAR Cup Series with Kasey Kahne being the most recent to accomplish the feat in 2005.

Track First-Time Cup Winners Date
Richmond Kasey Kahne Saturday, May 14, 2005
Richmond Tony Stewart Saturday, September 11, 1999
Richmond Kyle Petty Sunday, February 23, 1986
Richmond Neil Bonnett Sunday, September 11, 1977
Richmond James Hylton Sunday, March 1, 1970

Looking at the field entered this weekend, there are 11 drivers looking for their first career Cup Series win – (alphabetical order by last name) Harrison Burton, Landon Cassill, Ty Dillon, Todd Gilliland, Corey Lajoie, Andy Lally, BJ McLeod, Tyler Reddick, Garrett Smithley, Daniel Suárez and Cody Ware.

Playoff Picture: Six different winners in as many races

Six different drivers have clicked their ticket to the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs this season, leaving just 10 spots still up for grabs as the series heads to Richmond Raceway for the Toyota Owners 400 on Sunday, April 3 at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Currently, Hendrick Motorsport’s drivers Alex Bowman, William Byron and Kyle Larson, Team Penske’s Austin Cindric, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe and Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain are the six winners locked into the postseason.

At the other end of the Playoff outlook sits Daniel Suarez in the 16th and final Playoff transfer position, a mere seven points up on Petty GMS Motorsport’s driver Erik Jones in 17th; the first spot outside the postseason cutoff. Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Dillon is 18th with 19 points between himself and Suárez.

Suárez has made nine starts at Richmond Raceway posting three top 10s. Jones has also made nine starts at 0.75-mile track posting one top-10 finish. Dillon has made 15 series starts at Richmond putting up one top-five and four top-10 finishes. In last season’s Richmond spring race, of the three, Dillon posted the best finish (10th) followed by Daniel Suárez (16th) and Erik Jones (19th).

Standings leader Chase Elliott still looking for first win of 2022

Hendrick Motorsports has three of its four drivers already locked into the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs on wins this season, and the odd man without a win yet is the current series’ driver standings leader Chase Elliott.

Elliott jumped to the standings lead following Atlanta and has since opened up his points lead to 13 over second place Ryan Blaney.

Elliott is off to a hot start this season. Though winless, Elliott has joined Ross Chastain as the only drivers this season to finish in the top-10 in four of the six races.

Looking to Richmond Raceway, Elliott has made 12 series starts posting four top fives and five top 10s. He also has a win in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at the 0.75-mile track as well (2015). He finished 12th in the Richmond Cup spring race and fourth in the Playoff race last season.

If Chase Elliott were to win the NASCAR Cup Series race this weekend at Richmond, the Elliotts would join the Pettys (Lee, Richard, Kyle), the Earnhardts (Dale and Dale Jr.), the Allisons (Bobby and Davey) and the Jarretts (Ned and Dale) as fifth father-son combo to win a Cup Series event at Richmond. NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott won at Richmond in 1992.

Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain is rising to the top

With his victory last weekend at the Circuit of The Americas, Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain became the third first-time winner this season and the 39th different driver to win in all three of NASCAR’s national series.

For the first time in his career Ross Chastain is locked into the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs; his previous best finish in driver points in the series was 20th last season. Now the Florida native is ranked fifth in the driver points after posting series leading four top-five finishes (tied with Chase Elliott).

Chastain will look to keep the early season momentum going this weekend at Richmond Raceway. The 29-year-old has made six series starts at Richmond posting one top-10 finish. He finished 15th in last season’s Richmond spring race.

NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.

Next Gen sets back-to-back records in passes for the lead – The NASCAR Cup Series Next Gen car has put on quite the show so far this season. So much so, it is breaking records. For the second consecutive race this season the NASCAR Cup Series has set a new series record for total green flag passes for the lead on a particular track type.

Atlanta Motor Speedway produced a NASCAR Cup Series record for green flag passes for the lead on 1.5-mile tracks with 141 green flag passes for the lead. The previous record for green flag passes for the lead on a 1.5-mile track in the NASCAR Cup Series was held by Texas Motor Speedway with 57 green flag passes for the lead in 2019. Then last Sunday, Circuit of The Americas produced a NASCAR Cup Series record for green flag passes for the lead on road course tracks with 30 green flag passes for the lead. The previous record for total green flag passes for the lead on a road course in the NASCAR Cup Series was held by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course with 22 green flag passes for the lead in 2021.

Green flag passes for the lead is a Loop Data statistic that was created in 2007 and measures the number of lead changes throughout a green flag lap of competition.

Chris Long named honorary pace car driver at Richmond – Richmond Raceway announced this week that former National Football League (NFL) and University of Virginia player Chris Long will lead the field to green in his home state of Virginia as the Honorary Pace Car Driver for the Toyota Owners 400 on April 3.

Long, a native of Charlottesville, Va., played defensive end for the University of Virginia from 2004 to 2007. He was selected second overall in the 2008 NFL Draft and played eleven seasons for the St. Louis Rams (2008-2015), New England Patriots (2016) and Philadelphia Eagles (2017-2018).

New crew of Young Guns? – The average age of the six NASCAR Cup Series winners this season is 26.7 years old – with none of the six older than the age of 30 – Austin Cindric (23-year-old), Kyle Larson (29), Alex Bowman (28), Chase Briscoe (27), William Byron (24) and Ross Chastain (29).

The youthful winners are not only encapsulated in the Cup Series, the average age of winners in the NASCAR Xfinity Series is a sprightly 25.7 and the average age of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is 20.5.

Read more about the NASCAR Cup series from our website here…

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