The playoffs are underway and it is starting out with a tough schedule. After running a late Sunday race on the West Coast the teams all have to rush back to the East Coast for a Saturday night tilt. Once again I will be critical of NASCAR for setting the schedule this way. Nothing wrong with going to Vegas for the first race, but don’t follow it up on the other side of the country with a Saturday night affair.
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So, this Saturday night race will be held at the Richmond Raceway in Richmond, Virginia. This is a three-quarter mile D-shaped race track that has had some really exciting races run at it. Some of that was due to being the final race in the regular season for many years, but that isn’t the case anymore. This is one of those short flat tracks we talk about similar to Loudon and Martinsville only a bit in between those two in length.
Kyle Busch: I am going to go with Kyle to win this race due to the simple fact he leads all active drivers with six wins here including a sweep of both races last season. He has also finished in the top five seventeen times in his twenty-eight starts at the track and should be the odds on favorite to pick up his seventh trophy from this track. Add to that a poor finish in the opening round and Kyle really wants this win.
Denny Hamlin: Not to be outdone by much, Denny has three wins here and this is the type of track where he has always been good. In fact, Denny has only finished outside the top six once in his last eight starts here. If that isn’t consistency then I don’t know what is. He should be on your roster this week.
Joey Logano: Speaking of being consistent at this track, let’s talk about Joey. Joey has only finished outside of the top ten once in his last eleven starts here and that was a fourteenth place finish. He has also visited victory lane twice in that stretch here and will be another of the top contenders this week. Look for him to give the Joe Gibbs teams a run for their money.
Martin Truex Jr.: Now I go back to Joe Gibbs Racing again and talk about Martin Truex Jr. Martin won the race here in April, won both stages in this race last year. And has collected points in nine of the last ten stages run here. The win in April was his first short track win, but that is only because something always seemed to happen to him late in races on these short tracks. He is very good here.
Kyle Larson: Kyle has been running very well lately and he won this race two years ago. This is a track where he can make some noise in the playoffs and get himself qualified for the second round by picking up a win here this weekend. He has finished in the top sixteen in ten of his eleven starts at this track and usually qualifies well here too.
Kevin Harvick: Although he hasn’t won here since the 2011 season, Kevin is no flunky here. He has been very good here. He has finished in the top five in eight of his last ten starts here and hasn’t finished outside of the top twenty since the 2009 season. He has sat on the pole for the last two races he has run here and is a great option to start again this week if you are out of Kyle Busch starts.
Brad Keselowski: Here is another driver who really knows how to get around this track. At least he never really seems to run poorly here. He has finished in the top twenty in his last twelve starts with eight of those being top ten and two being eleventh place finishes. This is one of those weeks where you should have a lot of option in your A group and shouldn’t get hurt too bad unless your driver has some major problem during the race.
Chase Elliott: Chase has had a so so season so far in his eyes. He has been the most consistent Hendrick driver this year, but I’m sure he thinks he should have won more races and contended more often. Now isn’t the time to worry about what happened before the playoffs though and to get the job done. This is one of the tracks where he can pull off a win. He has finished in the top ten in three of his last four starts and finished second in the April race last season almost pulling off the win.
Clint Bowyer: Clint has two wins at this track and has finished in the top ten in each of his last three starts here. Clint has always seemed to run consistently well on the short flat tracks and now that he is in his third season with Stewart-Haas Racing his team should be a bit more cohesive as they progress through races. Look for him to have another strong showing this week.
Ryan Newman: Ryan made his way into the playoffs and has finished in the top ten in three of his last five starts at Richmond. One of those top ten finishes came in April in his first year with Roush/Fenway Racing and he did win a race at Phoenix in the spring of 2017, so he could pull off another upset this weekend and will be my dark horse for this week’s race
DRIVER GROUP GAME FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR RICHMOND RACEWAY
Driver Group Game Group A
- Kyle Busch
- Kevin Harvick
Driver Group Game Group B
- Denny Hamlin
- Clint Bowyer
- Kurt Busch
- Ryan Newman
Driver Group Game Group C
- Daniel Hemric
- Ty Dillon
MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT RICHMOND RACEWAY
- Kyle Busch
- Kevin Harvick
- Denny Hamlin
- Joey Logano
- Martin Truex Jr.
Dark Horse: Ryan Newman
Stay Away From: Ryan Blaney
Big 18: Kurt Busch