Previewing The Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway

NASCAR heads back to its roots this weekend with some Saturday night short track action! Richmond International Raceway (RIR) has been around for a long time and always produces fantastic races. Its history dates all the way back to 1946 when it was a 1/2 mile dirt track hosting open-wheel races. The name of the venue back then was actually Atlantic Rural Exposition Fairgrounds. NASCAR showed up in 1953 with Buck Baker taking pole position and Lee Petty winning the race over Dick Rathman.

After Lee won the first ever race ran at RIR, his son Richard went on to be the most successful driver in the track’s history winning 13 times. The Petty tradition continued with Kyle Petty winning his first NASCAR Sprint Cup (NSCS) race at the famous short track in 1986. The legacy ended in a tragic way with Kyle’s son Adam racing at Richmond in the Nationwide Series (NNS) just 7 days before losing his life during practice crash at¬†Loudon. His 16th place finish at RIR was the last time he ever raced. Another family with quite a history at Richmond are the Earnhardt’s and 4th generation racer Jeffrey will get his shot to show what he can do in Uncle Jr.’s car this weekend in the NNS race.

Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne and Matt Kenseth seem like the fastest guys out there this year and here are some stats so you can see where they stack up¬†against¬†their¬†competitors¬†at Richmond…


American Muscle

Richmond International Raceway Track Facts

Track Size: 0.75-miles

Banking/Turns 1 & 2: 14 degrees

Banking/Turns 3 & 4: 14 degrees

Banking/Frontstretch: 8 degrees

Banking/Backstretch: 2 degrees

Frontstretch Length:  1,290 feet

Backstretch Length:  860 feet

Race Length: 400 laps / 300 miles

 

Track History & Records

Inaugural Race Winner: Lee Petty over Dick Rathman

Most Wins By a Driver: Richard Petty (13)

Most Wins By a Team: Petty Enterprises (15) followed by Hendrick Motorsports with 10 and Joe Gibbs Racing with 9

Most Wins By a Manufactuer: Chevrolet (35)  followed by Ford with 28

Youngest Race Winner: Richard Petty at 23 years, 9 months and 21 days in April of 1961

Oldest Race Winner: Harry Gant at 51 years, 7 months and 28 days in September of 1991

Most Starts Without a DNF: Kevin Harvick (24)

Won First Career NSCS Race at Richmond: Tony Stewart (August of 1999) & Kasey Kahne (May of 2005)

Least Amount of Cautions: 1 in 1960, 1962 & 1970 (*Number of Cautions Not Recorded in 13 Events*)

Most Amount of Cautions: 15 in May of 2003, May of 2009 & September of 2011 (*Number of Cautions Not Recorded in 13 Events*)

 

Richmond Qualifying Stats 

51 drivers have won a pole at Richmond, led by Richard Petty and Bobby Allison (8) Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin lead all active drivers (5)

Seven drivers have won consecutive poles at Richmond & Bobby Allison holds the record for most consecutive poles with five (1972 Р1974)

The pole is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing the most winners than any other starting position (22)

35 of the 113 (30.9%) Cup races at Richmond have been won from the front row: 22 from the pole and 13 from second-place.

90 of the 113 (79.6%) Cup races at Richmond have been won from a top-10 starting position.

11 of the 113 (9.7%) Cup races at Richmond have been won from a starting position outside the top 20.

The deepest in the field that a race winner has started was Clint Bowyer who started 31st in Spring of 2008

Youngest Pole winner: Brian Vickers 20 years, 6 months and 21 days in May of 2004

Oldest Pole winner: Mark Martin at 53 years, 3 months and 19 days in April of 2012

Buck Baker won the inaugural pole award at Richmond in 1953 with a speed of 48.465 mph

Track Record: Brian Vickers with a lap of 20.772 (129.983mph) in May of 2004

 

Top 10 Driver Ratings at Richmond

1.) Denny Hamlin………………………. 117.8

2.) Kyle Busch…………………………. 113.9

3.) Kevin Harvick………………………. 111.1

4.) Clint Bowyer…………………………. 98.5

5.) Tony Stewart…………………………. 97.9

6.) Jeff Gordon………………………….. 96.6

7.) Mark Martin…………………………… 92.6

8.) Ryan Newman……………………….. 92.0

9.) Jimmie Johnson…………………….. 90.4

10.) Kurt Busch……………………………. 88.6

 

Best Average Finishes Among Active Drivers

1.) Kyle Busch————-5.4 (16 races)

2.) Denny Hamlin——–8.1 (14 races)

3.) Clint Bowyer———-9.6 (14 races)

4.) Tony Stewart———-10.4 (28 races)

5.) Ryan Newman———11.6 (22 races)

6.) Kevin Harvick———11.7 (24 races)

7.) Mark Martin———–11.9 (54 races)

8.) Dale Earnhardt Jr.—-13.9 (27 races)

9.) Jeff Gordon————14.4 (40 races)

10.) Carl Edwards———14.9 (17 races)

 

Most Wins Among Active Drivers

1.) Kyle Busch—————-4 (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012)

2.) Tony Stewart————3 (1999, 2001, 2002)

3.) Jimmie Johnson——–3 (2007, 2007, 2008)

4.) Dale Earnhardt Jr.—–3 (2000, 2004, 2006)

5.) Clint Bowyer————2 (2008, 2012)

6.) Kevin Harvick———-2 (2006, 2011)

7.) Denny Hamlin———2 (2009, 2010)

8.) Jeff Gordon———–2 (1996, 2000)

9.) Kurt Busch————1 (2005)

10.) Kasey Kahne——–1 (2005)

 

Most Top 5’s Among Active Drivers

1.) Mark Martin—————18

2.) Jeff Gordon—————-16

3.) Kyle Busch—————-12

4.) Tony Stewart————-11

5.) Dale Earnhardt Jr.——9

6.) Jeff Burton ————–9

7.) Denny Hamlin———-7

8.) Kevin Harvick———-6

9.) Ryan Newman———-5

10.) Jimmie Johnson—–5

 

Most Top 10’s Among Active Drivers

1.) Mark Martin————–30

2.) Jeff Gordon————–25

3.) Tony Stewart————19

4.) Jeff Burton————–16

5.) Kevin Harvick———15

6.) Ryan Newman———13

7.) Kyle Busch————-13

8.) Dale Earnhardt Jr.—-11

9.) Bobby Labonte——–10

10.) Matt Kenseth———10

 

Laps Led Among Active Drivers

1.) Jeff Gordon————–1415

2.) Denny Hamlin———-1390

3.) Tony Stewart———–950

4.) Jeff Burton————–942

5.) Kevin Harvick———-942

6.) Kyle Busch————–891

7.) Dale Earnhardt Jr.—–494

8.) Ryan Newman———-450

9.) Mark Martin————449

10.) Carl Edwards———-442

 

Kyle Busch is by far the best choice when looking at the history at this track and all of his 2013 success doesn’t hurt his chances either. In his last 8 races at Richmond, he has won half of them and finished inside the top six in all but one of them. In fact, in 16 career starts at RIR, Kyle has finished 6th or better in 13 of them and no worse than 20th. He is without a doubt my #1 pick this weekend and even with the controversy¬†surrounding¬†JGR right now, that won’t hinder him at all Saturday night.¬†Historicity, Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart are also good picks but I’d be wary of Tony for obvious reasons. Stewart-Haas Racing has been awful this year and this is easily the worst start to a season the 3x NSCS champion has ever had to endure. Bowyer and Jr. on the other hand are off to decent starts and could be contenders this weekend.

A surprising name that you don’t see up in these rankings is Jimmie Johnson. People would think that there is no track he hasn’t dominated but it’s been feast or famine for him at Richmond. He may have three wins but he also has eight finishes of 23rd or worse and has finished outside the top 10 in 14 of his 22 starts. Paul Menard is off to an awesome start in 2013 sitting 9th in the standings but he has a¬†miserable¬†record at Richmond. In 12 starts, he’s never finished in the top 10 and has posted results of 26th or worse 10 times; hat’s 83% of his races! A couple other drivers that may struggle are Kasey Kahne, Brad Keselowski, Jamie McMurray, Martin Truex Jr. and Brian Vickers who all have average finishes of 18th or worse.

The race will be run under the lights like it has been for the past 20 years or so. Track position is the key to staying in contention at this fierce Virginia short track and rarely do we see green flag pit stops but they do happen every so often. When they wreck, it’s usually a couple cars making contact or a massive pileup at the end of a¬†straightaway like we saw with Jeff Gordon a couple years back. Kyle Busch and Clint Bowyer are last year’s race winners and don’t be surprised if you see either one of them win it again. The track record set by Brian Vickers back in 2004 will most likely fall with the introduction of the Gen-6 cars and as if these drivers weren’t already riding the ragged edge; now they will be going even faster! The race can be seen live on your local FOX station with the green flag flying at¬†approximately¬†7:45pm est. time this Saturday.


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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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