Friday, May 02, 2008

Looking forward to Richmond

There is no mistaking that our favorite races on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit take place at the tracks that are 1.36 miles in length or shorter. There are no "cookie cutters" here--every track is unique.

This group includes Darlington, Richmond, Bristol, Loudon, Dover, Martinsville, Phoenix, and Richmond. It is very difficult to pick a favorite out of these, but mine is Richmond. The frontstretch, with its long, 8 degree banked curve, and long turns with 14 degree banking at each end of the straightaways, make for some very interesting racing. Like most short tracks, it usually features plenty of bumpin' and bangin' while at the same time offering multiple grooves and side by side racing. Like most short track racing, the Dan Lowry 400 at Richmond will focus on drivers skills and guts.

Denny Hamlin is on a tear. Out of the last seven races this year, he has posted six top ten finishes, including five top fives and one win. That win was at the other Virginia short track, Martinsville, and there is no doubt that he could make it two for two in his home state.

He won't do it without some competition. There are several other drivers who consider Richmond their favorite track, and have records to prove it. Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt, Jr each have three wins at the track, and Kyle Busch has only finished outside of the top five in one out of six races there. Jimmie Johnson swept both Richmond last year, and Kevin Harvick has the top driver rating* at Richmond with a 121.2

*Driver Rating : Formula combining the following categories: Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps, Lead-Lap Finish. Maximum: 150 points per race. (Racing

We can't overlook Mark Martin here, either, because he has 23 top ten finishes at Richmond, the most of any current driver. Ryan Newman, however has the best finishing average of all drivers who have raced in every Cup race at Richmond since 2002.

So the competition is going to be tough, the action fast paced, and the racing hard. There should be plenty of green flag racing, since there is some passing room there, but there will also be times when the traffic is thick, and mistakes will be made.

I'm guessing a JGR sweep of the top three places this week. All three drivers have the guts and aggressiveness it takes to win at a track like Richmond, and they arguably have the best cars in the field.

But then, the beauty of short track racing is that anybody can win.


Ron Ripple said...

I agree that anybody can win this race. Should be one for the books.

Nice site and thanks for visiting mine.

Ron Ripple
Nascar's Biggest Fan

Tim Zaegel said...

I've got Hamlin winning this weekend. Last time I made that prediction (Martinsville), it panned out ... we'll see how it goes this time 'round.