NASCAR betting: Richmond 400 preview and picks
It’s a short track Saturday night this weekend as NASCAR heads to Virginia for 400 laps at the 3/4-mile Richmond International Raceway.
This week is all about momentum. Denny Hamlin won for the second time this season at Kansas Speedway last Sunday and has a pair of Richmond victories on his resume. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver hails from nearby Chesterfield and coming to his home track is always special. Winning, however, makes the trip even sweeter. Hamlin is so looking forward to coming home that he plans on arriving early.
"We have our big Short Track Showdown coming up on Thursday, so we've got a lot of planning,” Hamlin told reporters. “I obviously need to go to Richmond early to get some stuff done and schmooze some of our sponsors for that race for a few days. We're excited. I love going to Richmond anyway, but any time you can go after winning the previous week, it makes it a little more exciting.”
One driver who has had very little reason to celebrate so far this season is Hamlin’s JGR teammate Kyle Busch. Busch ranks 13th in the standings - 31 points out of the Top 10. His last victory came at Michigan International Speedway last August - 20 starts ago. But Busch has won the last three spring races at Richmond and is tied with Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart for most wins among active drivers at the track. Busch could kick start his season with a win and get right back into the thick of the championship battle.
“We haven’t had the runs that we are looking for quite yet,” Busch told the media. “I’ve been missing a little bit of comfort in our cars this year, but I feel like we’re slowly gaining it back. I look for a certain feel in the car and we just haven’t quite hit on it, yet. We’ve kept working at making that better. We’ve been working hard at gaining some spots in the points. We’ve got some really good racetracks for us coming up with places like Richmond this weekend.”
Hendrick Motorsports continues to search for that, so far, elusive 200th win. The team has had some bright moments this season, but hasn’t visited Victory Lane since last fall, 14 races ago. Two of their four drivers have been leading the way this season.
Jimmie Johnson swept both Richmond races in 2007 and finished third in Kansas last Sunday. Dale Earnhardt Jr., a three-time Richmond winner (most recently in spring 2006), is riding a four-race Top-10 streak.
You might think that Johnson would come out as my favorite, being the most recent Hendrick winner here. However, Earnhardt Jr. will take over that role this week and there’s a feeling that he could steal the show and win for the first time since 2008 Saturday night.
Clint Bowyer vs. Kevin Harvick: This week’s primetime matchup features two former teammates at Richard Childress Racing. Bowyer has a win here, Harvick has two with the most recent coming last fall. Harvick has the higher driver rating but Bowyer, in his new ride at Michael Waltrip Racing, has shown some strength this season. Harvick has yet to find his way. Look for Bowyer to prevail in this matchup.
Ryan Newman vs. Greg Biffle: It’s a battle of Chevy versus Ford as Stewart-Haas Racing’s Newman goes up against Roush Racing’s Biffle. Both have wins this season with Newman’s coming at Martinsville, the last short track the series raced on. That might give Newman an edge but Biffle has been leading the point standings and will do whatever it takes to stay there. Look for Biffle to finish in front of Newman Saturday night.
Sixty-three of 111 races have been won from the Top-5 starting positions, including 22 from the pole. The last driver to win from the pole was Kyle Busch in 2010. The furthest back in the field a race winner has started was 31st, by Clint Bowyer in the 2008 spring race.
Denny Hamlin (+600)
Kyle Busch (+600)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (+1,800)