NASCAR Cup Series News & Notes – Richmond Raceway

Five different winners in first six NASCAR Cup Series races in 2023

Off to a fast start, the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season has seen five different winners from five different organizations this season – JTG Daugherty Racing’s Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Daytona), Richard Childress Racing’s Kyle Busch (Fontana), Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron (Las Vegas, Phoenix), Team Penske’s Joey Logano (Atlanta) and last weekend’s victor 23XI Racing’s Tyler Reddick (Austin).

The only repeat winner this season has been the opportunistic William Byron, who was able to grab both of his wins on the heels of late race cautions and overtime restarts at Las Vegas and Phoenix. Now, the highly-competitive series heads to historic 0.75-mile Richmond Raceway for the seventh race of the season, the Toyota Owners 400, on Sunday, April 2 at 3:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio for some good old short track racing.

In addition to a bevy of different winners this season, through six races the NASCAR Cup Series has produced an average of 11.33 lap leaders per race; which is the seventh-most in the Modern Era (1972-2023); behind the 2011 (13.0), 2014 (12.5), 2010 (12.0), 2022 (12.0), 1989 (11.7), and 2007 (11.5) seasons. In total, 30 different drivers have led laps in the first six races of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season, led by Hendrick Motorsports driver Kyle Larson with 270 laps led (20.22% of the total 1,335 laps run this season).

The 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season has also produced an average margin of victory of 1.111-seconds through six races; with three events finishing with a margin of victory under a second. Four of the first six NASCAR Cup Series races this season have resulted in overtime finishes (Daytona, Las Vegas, Phoenix and COTA).

Plus, this season has produced 369 Green Flag Passes for the Lead in the first six points-paying races of the year (Daytona 204 GFPL, Fontana 35 GFPL, Las Vegas 22 GFPL, Phoenix 14 GFPL, Atlanta 73 GFPL, COTA 21 GFPL) – second-most through the first six races of a season since the Loop Data statistic was initially tabulated in 2007 (last 17 seasons); just behind the 2022 season with 378 GFPL.

NASCAR Cup Series

Next Race: Toyota Owners 400

The Place: Richmond Raceway

The Date: Sunday, April 2

The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET

The Purse: $7,529,485

TV: FS1, 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)

Reddick adds name to Playoffs / Allstar lists with COTA victory

Fifth different winner this season was 23XI Racing’s Tyler Reddick last weekend at the Circuit of The America’s, his fourth career NASCAR Cup Series victory and third on a road course. Not only did the California native secure his spot in the Playoffs with the win but also the NASCAR All-Star Race which will take place at the newly renovated North Wilkesboro Speedway (May 21).

This season Reddick spun the tires in the first few races but has since found the traction he needs to put up some decent finishes. In six starts he has amassed one win (COTA), three top fives and three top 10s. His average finish this season is 16.2.

Looking to Richmond, Reddick has made five starts posting a best finish of 11th in 2020. His average finish at Richmond is 17.8. He finished 12th in this race last season.

The short on racing at Richmond Raceway

The 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season has been filled with unpredictable finishes and stellar on-track competition producing five different winners in six races. Plus, the Cup Series has seen four different driver point standings leaders through the first six races, with Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain 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 132 times producing 57 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. Eight of the 57 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 Richmond Pole Winners Poles Seasons
Kevin Harvick 3 2019, 2018, 2005
Denny Hamlin 3 2016, 2008, 2006
Brad Keselowski 2 2019, 2014
Joey Logano 2 2015 sweep
Kyle Larson 1 2022
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) – the third-most wins by a single driver at a single track in series history, behind his 15 wins at Martinsville and North Wilkesboro.

Eight 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). Joe Gibbs Racing’s driver Denny Hamlin is the defending winner of this weekend’s race at Richmond Raceway, and Stewart-Haas Racing veteran Kevin Harvick is the most recent victor taking the win last August.

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

All the on-track action begins on Saturday, April 1 with practice from 10:05 a.m. – 10:50 a.m. ET and will be immediately followed by Busch Light Pole Qualifying from 10:50 a.m. – 12 p.m. ET. Both event will be broadcast on FS1.

Veterans have dominated Richmond recently in Cup

Looking at the recent visitors to the Richmond Raceway Victory Lane in the NASCAR Cup Series, and eight of the last nine races have been won by veteran drivers – Kevin Harvick (2022), Denny Hamlin (2022), Martin Truex Jr. (2021, 2019 sweep), Brad Keselowski (2020) and Kyle Busch (2018 sweep) – the one lone exception is Hendrick Motorsports’ Alex Bowman who won in 2021. Will the veterans prevail again this weekend or will we see one of the ‘young guns’ hoist the trophy this weekend?

A total of eight former Richmond winners are entered this weekend, led by Richard Childress Racing’s Kyle Busch with six victories at the 0.75-mile track (spring 2009, spring 2010, spring 2011, spring 2012, 2018 sweep). The driver with the most wins recently at Richmond though, is Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. who has earned all three of his wins since 2019.

Th level of competition is always fierce at Richmond. Only five first-time winners have earned their first NASCAR Cup Series career win at Richmond Raceway, and it hasn’t happened since 2005 – Kasey Kahne (2005), Tony Stewart (1999), Kyle Petty (1986), Neil Bonnett (1977) and James Hylton (1970).

Ross Chastain is the driver to catch in points

Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain has retaken the NASCAR Cup Series points lead following his fourth-place finish at the Circuit of The Americas last weekend – Chastain is one of three different drivers to lead the driver standings this season (Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano). Now, the Florida native is 19 points up on Richard Childress Racing’s Kyle Busch in second and 25 points ahead of Team Penske’s Joey Logano in third place.

This season, Chastain has put up two top fives, three top 10s, and has an average finish of 10.8 – third best on the year, behind Alex Bowman (7.0) and Kyle Busch (9.0).

Looking to this weekend in Richmond, Chastain will have his work cut out for him to hold off Logano and Busch in the standings. Chastain has made eight career NASCAR Cup Series starts at the 0.75-mile track posting one top-10 finish. His average finish at Richmond is 23.2. He finished 19th in this event last season.

Bubba Wallace’s Block Party at Richmond returns

NASCAR announced plans to bring back, Bubba’s Block Party, a community block party hosted by 23XI Racing driver Bubba Wallace. The free, family-friendly event will take place from 6-10 p.m. March 31 at Virginia Credit Union Live! located at Richmond Raceway.

“We’re excited to bring Bubba’s Block Party to the Richmond community for a second consecutive year. The feedback we received last summer was very positive and we want to keep the momentum going,” said Pete Jung, NASCAR Chief Marketing Officer. “This is an important initiative that fosters a community of inclusion and support while exposing our sport to new fans. We’re thrilled to know it has been very well received.”

The free ticketed event hosted by Desi Banks will offer guest performances by Backyard Band and The Art of Noise RVA. Attendees will also enjoy iRacing, video games and live pit stop demonstrations by Wallace’s No. 23 pit crew. Wallace will engage the audience as part of a fireside chat which will focus on his career journey and NASCAR’s efforts to promote diversity and inclusion across the sport.

“I’m thrilled to bring my block party back to Richmond this year,” Wallace said. It’s important to make sure everyone feels welcome at the track. I’m happy to keep creating these spaces and to spark more conversation around the sport. It’s going to be a good time.”

The best in a Next Gen on tracks less than a mile in length – short tracks

When looking back at the inaugural season of the Next Gen car (2022), the NASCAR Cup Series competed in six events on tracks that measure less than a mile – Richmond Raceway (0.75-mile), Martinsville Speedway (0.526-mile), Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt (0.5-mile) and Bristol Motor Speedway (0.533-mile) – and below is look at the drivers that excelled on these type of tracks.

Wins – Six different drivers won on short tracks in the Next Gen car in as many races last season. The six winners were Denny Hamlin (Richmond-1), William Byron (Martinsville-1), Kyle Busch (Bristol Dirt), Kevin Harvick (Richmond-2), Chris Buescher (Bristol), and Christopher Bell (Martinsville-2).

Runner-Up Finishes – Six different drivers finished runner-up in the six short track Cup Series races last season: Kevin Harvick (Richmond-1), Joey Logano (Martinsville-1), Tyler Reddick (Bristol Dirt), Christopher Bell (Richmond-2), Chase Elliott (Bristol), and Kyle Larson (Martinsville-2).

Top Fives – A total of 14 different drivers scored top-five finishes in the six short track Cup Series races run last season, led by Kyle Larson with four top-five finishes, and followed by Christopher Bell, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney and William Byron with three top fives each.

Top 10s – A total of 23 different drivers posted a top-10 finish in the six short track Cup Series races run last season, led by Chase Elliott, Christopher Bell and Ryan Blaney with five top 10s each.

Average Finishes – A total of six different drivers had an average finish of 10th or better in the six short track Cup Series races last season – Christopher Bell (6.6), William Byron (7.2), Chase Elliott (8.2), Kyle Larson (8.2), Ryan Blaney (9.8) and Joey Logano (10.2).

Lap Led – A total of 20 different drivers led at least one lap in the six short track Cup Series races last season. Here are the top five lap leaders on short tracks last season – Christopher Bell (356 laps led), William Byron (334), Chase Elliott (240), Denny Hamlin (230) and Joey Logano (223).

NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.

Sunoco Rookie of the Year Update: Ty Gibbs is opening up his rookie points lead – Joe Gibbs Racing’s Ty Gibbs posted his second top-10 finish of the season at the Circuit of The Americas last weekend, and as a result has opened up his Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings lead over Legacy Motor Club driver Noah Gragson by 32 points through just six races.

This season Gibbs is putting up an average finish of 18.2, compared to his rookie counterpart Gragson with a 22.8.

Both rookies made their series track debuts at Richmond Raceway last season, and both will be looking to build on their first appearance. Of the two rookies last season Gibbs qualified better (14th) than Gragson (19th), but it was Gragson who pulled out the better finish (24th) compared to Gibbs (36h).

But don’t sleep on these two rookies this weekend, as both have won in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Richmond in the past – Gragson (2021) and Gibbs (2022).

Festivities start early for fans with Finish Line Party presented by Richmond Raceway, March 30 – Richmond Raceway has announced it will host a Finish Line Party to begin the Toyota Owners 400 Weekend, March 30. The simultaneous rooftop parties will take place at three different iconic Richmond venues.

The celebrations will take place at the Quirk Hotel Rooftop starting at 5:30 p.m., New York Deli at 6:30 p.m., and The HofGarden Rooftop at 7:30 p.m. All three parties are located within minutes of each other making it easy for fans to come and go as pleased.

The parities will include appearances from Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, Richmond Raceway President Lori Collier Waran and multiple NASCAR personalities. In addition to music, giveaways, and food and drinks for purchase.

“I am looking forward to using this time to interact with our passionate NASCAR fans and share my excitement about the Toyota Owners 400 Weekend,” said Richmond Raceway President Lori Collier Waran. “With this being NASCAR’s 75th anniversary season, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate together.”

Vernon Davis Named Honorary Pace Car Driver for the Toyota Owners 400 – Richmond Raceway announced this week that Vernon Davis, a former NFL tight end and current actor, producer, and entrepreneur, will be the Honorary Pace Car Driver and will lead the field to green for Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400.

“It is an honor to have Vernon behind the wheel,” said Richmond Raceway President Lori Collier Waran. “His wide-ranging talent and accomplishments are nothing short of incredible, and now he can add Honorary Pace Car Driver to his already impressive resume.”

Cup Series driver milestone starts to watch for – Over the next few races several drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series will reach milestones starts if they continue to run fulltime in the series.

At Richmond Raceway in two weeks on April 2, Team Penske’s Austin Cindric will be making his 50th career NASCAR Cup Series start. Five different drivers all-time in the NASCAR Cup Series have won on their 50th career Cup start – Glen Wood (1960, Winston-Salem), Dick Hutcherson (1965, Lincoln), Charlie Glotzbach (1970, Daytona), Darrell Waltrip (Nashville Fairgrounds) and Jeff Gordon (1994, Indianapolis).

Then at Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt on April 9, Richard Childress Racing’s Kyle Busch will be making his 650th NASCAR Cup Series career start. Busch will become the 27th different NASCAR Cup Series driver all-time to make 650 or more starts. Only one driver all-time has won on their 650th career NASCAR Cup Series start, and it was NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty at Dover Motor Speedway on Sept. 15, 1974.

And at Talladega Superspeedway on April 23, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick will be making his 800th career NASCAR Cup Series career start. Harvick will become just the 10th different NASCAR Cup Series driver all-time to make 800 or more starts in the series. Only one driver all-time has won on their 800th career NASCAR Cup Series start, and it was NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty at Dover Motor Speedway on Sept. 16, 1979.

Other NASCAR news…   NASCAR website

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