NASCAR Cup Series Prepares For Round 2 At Richmond Raceway

For the second time this season, the NASCAR Cup Series will head to Richmond Raceway for some Sunday afternoon side-by-side short track action in the Federated Auto Parts 400 on August 14 at 3 p.m. ET (USA, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Only three races remain in the 2022 regular season (Richmond, Watkins Glen and Daytona) to decide the 16-driver Playoff field and for the first-time in the elimination-style format of Playoffs (2014-2022), the series has produced 15 different winners leaving just one spot still open on points.

With such limited time left and only one spot remaining, the intensity amongst the competitors vying to make the postseason is growing by the second.

This week the NASCAR Cup Series teams will be dialing in the Next Gen cars for the close, beating and banging-type racing the fans have come to 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 was won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Lee Petty in a Petty Enterprises Dodge with an average speed of 45.535 mph.

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The first 24 NASCAR Cup Series races held at Richmond Raceway were run on a dirt surface (1953-1968). NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson won the final Richmond race on dirt, driving a Holman-Moody Racing 1968 Ford to Victory Lane.  The track surface was changed from dirt to asphalt between Cup Series races in 1968, with NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty winning the first NASCAR Cup Series race on the paved Richmond surface on September 8, 1968 driving a Petty Enterprises Plymouth. The track was then rebuilt as the three-quarters-mile D-shaped oval we know today in 1988. In total, Richmond Raceway has hosted the NASCAR Cup Series 131 times producing 56 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. Seven of the 56 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.

Active Pole Winners (7) Poles Seasons
Kevin Harvick 3 2019, 2018, 2005
Denny Hamlin 3 2016, 2008, 2006
Brad Keselowski 2 2019, 2014
Joey Logano 2 2015 sweep
Ryan Blaney 1 2022
Kyle Busch 1 2010
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). Petty’s 13 Richmond wins are the third-most victories by a single driver at a single track in NASCAR Cup 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 Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch with six victories (spring 2009, spring 2010, spring 2011, spring 2012, 2018 sweep). Busch’s JGR teammates, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr., are the two most recent winners at Richmond with Hamlin taking the victory back in April, and Truex is the defending winner of this weekend’s race from last season.

Active Race Winners (9) Wins Season
Kyle Busch 6 2018 sweep, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009
Denny Hamlin 4 2022, 2016, 2010, 2009
Kevin Harvick 3 2013, 2011, 2006
Martin Truex Jr 3 2021, 2019 sweep
Brad Keselowski 2 2020, 2014
Joey Logano 2 2017, 2014
Kurt Busch 2 2015, 2005
Alex Bowman 1 2021
Kyle Larson 1 2017

All the on-track NASCAR Cup Series action at Richmond Raceway begins on Saturday, August 13 with practice and Busch Light Pole Qualifying on the USA Network from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. ET.

NASCAR Cup Series

Next Race: Federated Auto Parts 400

The Place: Richmond Raceway

The Date: Sunday, August 14

The Time: 3 p.m. ET

The Purse: $7,144,995

TV: USA, 2 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)

Regular Season Roundup: Three to go as Playoff picture starts to take shape

With his big win last weekend at Michigan International Speedway, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick has shaken-up the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with just three races to go in the regular season. The victory makes Harvick the 15th different winner in 23 races this season – a NASCAR Cup Series record tying the 2003 and 2011 seasons for the series-most different winners in the first 23 races of a year. With 15 drivers already earning their spot in the Playoffs, that leaves Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney in the 16th and final available transfer spot on points, up only 19 points on Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. in 17th – the first spot outside the postseason cutoff – as the series heads to Richmond Raceway this weekend.

At this point in the season, Truex is the only driver within striking distance of Blaney in the points standings, the next closest in the Playoff outlook standings is Petty GMS Motorsports’ driver Erik Jones in 18th, 190 points behind Blaney. As a result, winning one of the next three races will be the only way majority of the drivers still vying for the postseason will have a chance to get in.

Looking ahead at the next three races in the regular season, nine of the 15 winless drivers still eligible to make the Playoffs have won at least one race at the upcoming three venues, led by Martin Truex Jr. (Richmond, Watkins Glen) and Brad Keselowski (Richmond, Daytona) with wins at two of the three facilities.

2022 Driver Playoff Outlook Following Race No. 23 – Drivers Without Wins This Season
Rank Driver Points Pts From Cutoff Richmond Watkins Glen Daytona
16 Ryan Blaney 728 19 1
17 Martin Truex Jr. 709 -19 3 1
18 Erik Jones 538 -190 1
19 Aric Almirola 518 -210 1
20 Bubba Wallace 493 -235
21 Austin Dillon 483 -245 1
22 Justin Haley 445 -283 1
23 Chris Buescher 442 -286
24 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 395 -333 1
25 Cole Custer 390 -338
26 Michael McDowell 385 -343 1
27 Harrison Burton # 374 -354
28 Brad Keselowski 364 -364 2 1
29 Todd Gilliland # 356 -372
30 Ty Dillon 326 -402

Clinch scenarios to watch at Richmond Raceway

Several of the drivers that have already won this season and have earned a spot in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs still need to clinch their postseason position by earning enough points that no matter where they finish in the remaining races of the regular season, they will not fall out of the top 30 in points. Once a driver has achieved that points total, they have officially clinched a spot in the postseason. Below is a breakdown of the drivers that can clinch their spot in the postseason this weekend:

Already Clinched

The following seven drivers have clinched a spot in the 16-driver postseason field: Chase Elliott, Ross Chastain, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, William Byron, Tyler Reddick and Denny Hamlin.

Can Clinch Via Previous Wins

The following drivers could clinch on previous wins with a win by Chase Elliott:

  • Christopher Bell: Would clinch with 18 points
  • Kyle Busch: Would clinch with 50 points
  • Kevin Harvick: Could only clinch with help
  • Alex Bowman: Could only clinch with help
  • Daniel Suarez: Could only clinch with help

The following drivers could clinch on previous wins with a win by Ross Chastain, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Christopher Bell, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, William Byron, Alex Bowman, Tyler Reddick, Daniel Suarez, Denny Hamlin:

  • Christopher Bell: Would clinch with 25 points
  • Kyle Busch: Could only clinch with help
  • Kevin Harvick: Could only clinch with help
  • Alex Bowman: Could only clinch with help
  • Daniel Suarez: Could only clinch with help

The following drivers could clinch on previous wins with a win by Aric Almirola (or another winless driver below him in the standings):

  • Christopher Bell: Would clinch with 25 points
  • Kyle Busch: Could only clinch with help
  • Kevin Harvick: Could only clinch with help

The following drivers could clinch on previous wins with a win by Chase Briscoe:

  • Christopher Bell: Would clinch with 29 points
  • Kyle Busch: Could only clinch with help
  • Kevin Harvick: Could only clinch with help
  • Alex Bowman: Could only clinch with help
  • Daniel Suarez: Could only clinch with help

The following drivers could clinch on previous wins with a win by Austin Cindric:

  • Christopher Bell: Would clinch with 31 points
  • Kyle Busch: Could only clinch with help
  • Kevin Harvick: Could only clinch with help
  • Alex Bowman: Could only clinch with help
  • Daniel Suarez: Could only clinch with help

The following drivers could clinch on previous wins with a win by Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr., Erik Jones or Kurt Busch:

  • Christopher Bell: Would clinch with 31 points
  • Kyle Busch: Could only clinch with help
  • Kevin Harvick: Could only clinch with help

Can Clinch Via Win

The following drivers would clinch on their win alone:

  • Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr., Christopher Bell, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Alex Bowman, Daniel Suarez, Chase Briscoe, Austin Cindric, Kurt Busch

Richmond offers decent opportunity for Truex to catch Blaney

Of the three remaining tracks on the NASCAR Cup Series regular season schedule, this weekend’s Richmond Raceway offers the best opportunity for Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. to get his first win of the 2022 season. Looking to snap his 31-race winless streak and solidify his spot in the Playoffs this weekend, Truex heads to Richmond as the winningest driver at the 0.75-mile track among the competitors that haven’t won yet this season with three victories (2019 sweep and 2021).

Truex is currently riding a steak of seven consecutive seasons of making the Playoffs (2015-2021). This year, he has put up three top fives and 10 top 10s and currently resides in the first position outside the postseason cutoff trailing Ryan Blaney by 19 points.

Don’t be surprised even if Truex doesn’t win this weekend that he at least closes the points gap on Blaney. In 32 series start at Richmond, Truex has amassed three wins, nine top fives and 15 top 10s. On the other hand, Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney has made 12 series starts at Richmond posting just two top 10s.  Truex also betters him in average finish at the track with a 16.0 to Blaney’s 20.9.

Hamlin looks to pull off Richmond sweep this season

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin, from Chesterfield, Virginia, will look to win this weekend’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway to become the 12th different driver all-time and just the third active driver to win consecutive races at the 0.75-mile track. And what would make the achievement even more special is to do it at his home track.

A total of 11 different drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series have posted consecutive wins at Richmond Raceway; Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. are the only active drivers to accomplish the feat:

  • Joe Weatherly (1962-1963)
  • David Pearson (1965, 1966 sweep)
  • Richard Petty (1970, 1971 sweep, 1972 sweep, 1973 sweep)
  • Cale Yarborough (1976-1977)
  • Bobby Allison (1982, 1983 sweep)
  • Dale Earnhardt (1987 sweep, 1990-1991)
  • Rusty Wallace (1989 sweep)
  • Terry Labonte (1994-1995)
  • Jimmie Johnson (2007 sweep)
  • Kyle Busch (2018 sweep)
  • Martin Truex Jr. (2019 sweep)

Denny Hamlin won at Richmond Raceway earlier this season, taking the checkered flag after passing William Byron for the lead with just five laps to go. In total, the 41-year-old has made 31 series starts at Richmond, putting up three poles, four wins (2009, 2010, 2016, 2022), 16 top fives and 20 top 10s. His average finish is 8.516 – third-best among active drivers.

NASCAR announces groundbreaking for state-of-the-art Productions facility

NASCAR announced this week that construction will begin on a brand-new state-of-the-art Productions facility later this summer. The 58,000 square-foot facility will be built on the land adjacent to the NASCAR R&D Center in Concord, North Carolina.

The new facility will house approximately 125 NASCAR Productions and MRN employees with further room to expand operations in the future. NASCAR will continue to have a significant presence in the Uptown Charlotte area, with a large contingent of employees remaining in Five Fifty South (formerly known as NASCAR Plaza) for the foreseeable future.

NASCAR will make significant investments in its productions infrastructure and technology to deliver first-class live event production and content to NASCAR’s fans and industry partners. This commitment furthers NASCAR’s mission of providing fans with enhanced content that brings them closer to the sport.

“The scope and scale of the NASCAR Productions business has fundamentally changed in recent years, with NASCAR’s live event production operation more than doubling since 2018. Developing a state-of-the-art facility that can accommodate our continued expansion was paramount,” said Brian Herbst, SVP, Media and Productions. “In this evolving sports media landscape, live event production and investing in technology that enhances the fan viewing experience has never been more important – it’s essential that our new workspace can facilitate that strategic growth.”

The new location is strategically located next to the NASCAR R&D Center and will be more closely situated to majority of NASCAR team operations. The facility will offer more space and will be a far more efficient resource for the industry at large. Though still in the early stages of development, the new facility is expected to be fully operational by the start of the 2024 season.

NASCAR will conduct a ceremonially ground-breaking event on Wednesday, August 31st.

NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.

Petty GMS announces Noah Gragson will drive No. 42 in 2023 – This week, Petty GMS announced that Las Vegas native and current fulltime NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Noah Gragson will pilot the No. 42 Petty GMS Chevrolet in 2023. Gragson will be replacing Ty Dillon who currently drives the No. 42 this season.

“To be able to finally announce my plans for next season and officially say I will be competing fulltime in the NASCAR Cup Series is a dream come true,” said Gragson. “This is what we all dream of when we start racing at a young age, to be able to compete at the top level with the best in the world. I’m excited to join Petty GMS and drive a car that has so much history in our sport, the No. 42.”

Gragson will become the 47th different driver to race in the NASCAR Cup Series in the No. 42 car; joining drivers like NASCAR Hall of Famer Lee Petty, Kyle Petty, Jamie McMurray, Juan Pablo Montoya and Kyle Larson. Gragson has made nine NASCAR Cup Series starts in his career, one for Beard Motorsports and eight for his current team Kaulig Motorsports. His best finish in the Cup Series was an 18th-place finish at Kansas Speedway earlier this season. Gragson will be in the No. 16 for Kaulig Racing this weekend at Richmond.

Gragson is currently competing for a championship in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for JR Motorsports. He is ranked fourth in the Xfinity points after posting three wins, 11 top fives and 15 top 10s in 21 starts this season.

Chase Young named Honorary Pace Car driver at Richmond – Richmond Raceway announced last week that Washington Commanders star defensive end, Chase Young, will lead the field as the Honorary Pace Car Driver to start the Federated Auto Parts 400 on Aug. 14 (3 p.m. ET on USA, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

“It’s an honor that Richmond Raceway thought of me for this historic event,” said Chase Young. “I’m excited to participate and even more excited to watch the race.”

Chase Young is currently a defensive end for the NFL’s Washington Commanders. Following his debut season, Young was named the 2020 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.

NASCAR Cup Series Featured Matchups: Federated Auto Parts 400 – Below is a close look at the featured matchups fans can bet on heading into this weekend’s event.

Kevin Harvick vs. Denny Hamlin (Fan Vote) – Kevin Harvick’s win last week at Michigan was his first in his last 65 races. Harvick used a late restart to get ahead of the field and never looked back, winning by more than 3 seconds over Bubba Wallace. Denny Hamlin may have been the fastest car all day, but a late pit road penalty derailed his chances to win. Still, he drove through the field and finished third, showcasing just how good his car was. This matchup features the two drivers who finished first and second at the first race at Richmond earlier this year, so these two should bring some fireworks come Sunday.

Kyle Busch vs. Martin Truex Jr.  On tap this weekend is a pair of Joe Gibbs Racing teammates. Kyle Busch was the pre-race favorite as the green flag waved to start the race on Sunday at Michigan, but his day ended early as he got caught up in a big wreck in the first stage of the race. Truex finished sixth on the day, but with a 15th new winner this year, his path to the Playoffs got more difficult. Truex heads to one of his best tracks where he has three wins in his last six races. He also owns the best driver rating in the field at Richmond with a 127.5. If there’s any track where Truex can get his first win of the season, Richmond might be the best bet. His JGR teammate, Kyle Busch, will have his own motivation, after his ninth straight finish outside the top 10.

Ryan Blaney vs. Joey Logano – Time to pick your favorite of the two Team Penske drivers – Blaney or Logano. Another top-five finish last weekend for Ryan Blaney kept his consistent season going. The polesitter at Richmond earlier in the season, Blaney should feel confident in his ability to get to Victory Lane for the first time this Sunday. With 15 winners this season, it’s becoming increasingly likely that Blaney may need to win to get into the Playoffs. His Team Penske counterpart, Joey Logano has had four top fives in his last six races at Richmond and owns a 105.6 driver rating. Logano finished fourth at Michigan, so the Penske Fords are both coming off some recent momentum.

Chase Elliott vs. Christopher Bell – Chase Elliott finished outside the top 10 for the second week in a row after finishing first or second in five straight races. Christopher Bell was contending for the race win before contact with Ross Chastain damaged his car and ended his chances of winning at Michigan. Both of these drivers have shown great speed on short, flat tracks like Richmond and have combined for 14 top fives and five wins this season. Elliott was bested by Bell earlier this season at Richmond though, with Bell taking home a sixth-place finish to Elliott’s 14th-place.

Elliott can clinch Regular Season Championship presented by Coca Cola at Richmond – Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott and current point standings leader can clinch the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Regular Season Championship presented by Coca Cola this weekend if he earns 58 points at Richmond Raceway.

If Elliott wins the Regular Season Championship this season, he will become the fifth different driver to accomplish the feat since the award was created in 2017; joining Kyle Larson (2021), Kevin Harvick (2020), Kyle Busch (2019, 2018) and Martin Truex Jr. (2017).

The NASCAR Cup Series Regular Season Championship presented by Coca-Cola not only awards the winning driver with a prestigious trophy but also an additional 15 Playoff points (equivalent to three race wins) to take into the postseason. Elliott currently leads the series in Playoff point with 25, if he wins the regular season title his Playoff points total will balloon to 40 points. The most Playoff points a driver has taken into the postseason is 57 by Kevin Harvick in 2020.

Who is the next to end a winless streak? – After Stewart-Haas Racing Kevin Harvick snapped his 65-race winless streak last weekend at Michigan, everybody in the garage has got to think they have a chance to win this season. So, who else is facing a mounting winless streak they would like to see ended?

The top 10 longest active winless streaks by drivers that have previously won in the NASCAR Cup Series are – in descending order – Chris Buescher (218 races since last win), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (186 races), Justin Haley (113 races), Erik Jones (103 races), Cole Custer (78 races), Austin Dillon (77 races), Michael McDowell (58 races), Brad Keselowski (49 races), Aric Almirola (37 races) and Ryan Blaney (33 races). Of the group listed trying to end their winless streak, only RFK Racing’s Brad Keselowski has won at Richmond Raceway (2014, 2020).

For more on the NASCAR Cup Series, click here.  Be sure to leave your thoughts and comments below.

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