After a wild opening to the 2018 Playoffs, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returns to Richmond Raceway for the second time this season, where we have seen tempers flare before. The first time we raced here this year (back in April), we saw Kyle Busch charge from his 32nd-place starting spot to take the victory, although Martin Truex, Jr., Joey Logano, and Kurt Busch led most of the laps in that race. At Richmond we tend to see the same drivers finish up front, but with so many playoffs teams having huge holes to get out of after Las Vegas, it wouldn’t be surprising to see some drivers gamble here on Saturday night. No matter what happens, it should be a good race–the final Saturday night event of the year!
NASCAR went with their condensed schedule this weekend, as the Cup teams had two practice sessions on Friday afternoon followed by qualifying that evening. Kevin Harvick won the pole for Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400, and the full starting lineup for the Richmond 2 race can be found by clicking here. The practice speeds from the two sessions can be found here: Practice #1 – Happy Hour and I’d recommend reading our in-depth notes on both as well: Practice #1 – Happy Hour.
PLEASE NOTE: Inspection will be held on Saturday afternoon before the race. If a car fails inspection, the driver’s qualifying time will be disallowed and they will start from the rear. Once qualifying inspection is over, this article will be updated to reflect any lineup changes.
Final Top 25 Rankings for Richmond 2
1. Kevin Harvick – Starts 1st – DraftKings Price: $12,200 – FanDuel Price: $13,600
**Risk Factor: Low Risk**
Kevin Harvick is a three-time winner at Richmond Raceway and will be a contender to get his fourth career victory here on Saturday night. This #4 team doesn’t exactly need a good points day for their Playoffs after the Las Vegas debacle last week, but at the same time, it has to be in the back of their head. Lately, Harvick has been a top 5 machine at this track, and it shouldn’t be that surprising considering Phoenix is so similar to Richmond, and the #4 crew has absolutely dominated out there in the desert over the last four or five years. Currently, Harvick has six top 5s in the last eight Richmond races, and that should be seven of the last nine after Saturday night is overwith. The #4 Ford was 17th-fastest in Practice #1 on Friday and ended up 14th-fastest in Happy Hour. Harvick ranked 5th and 4th in ten-lap average during those sessions, respectively.
2. Kyle Busch – Starts REAR of the field but will be scored from 11th – DraftKings Price: $11,800 – FanDuel Price: $13,800
**Risk Factor: Low Risk**
Rowdy Busch is a master of Richmond Raceway, plain and simple. He’s won five times here in 26 career starts (19.2%), posted 16 total top 5 finishes (61.5%), and has a ridiculous average finish of 7.2–better than anyone else in the Cup Series garage by over two positions. In the first race here this season, Kyle Busch started way back in 32nd, but still put up the 2nd-most fastest laps in the race (35) and ended up in victory lane when it was all said and done. That makes it three finishes of 1st or 2nd in the last six Richmond races for Busch, and only one result worse than 9th over that span. Looking at the similar tracks this season, the #18 team led the most laps and finished 2nd at Phoenix and then finished 2nd at Loudon as well after leading 36 laps. Kyle was the fastest in Practice #1 on Friday with the best ten-lap average and then ended up 18th-fastest with the 6th-best ten-lap average in Happy Hour. If he isn’t in contention for the win here on Saturday night, chances are it’ll be because of a mechanical issue–which isn’t very likely.
3. Martin Truex, Jr. – Starts 3rd – DraftKings Price: $11,000 – FanDuel Price: $13,200
**Risk Factor: Medium Risk**
Seven current drivers have led over 500 laps at Richmond Raceway: Denny Hamlin (3 wins), Kyle Busch (5 wins), Kevin Harvick (3 wins), Matt Kenseth (2 wins), Kurt Busch (2 wins), Brad Keselowski (1 win), and Martin Truex, Jr….who has zero wins. What’s even more disappointing (in Truex’s case) is the fact that he has TWO top 5s in 25 total starts (8%). With that being said, there’s really been no car better here at Richmond in the last couple of years than the #78 Toyota; in three of the last four races at this track, Truex had led at least 121 laps, and in two of those his laps led were in the mid-190s. His average finish during that time? 11.8. There’s no doubt that Martin has dominator potential here at Richmond, and he’s eventually going to get that win. Will it be this weekend? Truex was 8th-fastest in Practice #1 on Friday and 2nd-fastest in Happy Hour. He ranked 17th and 7th when it came to ten-lap averages in those sessions.