Denny Hamlin – Denny Hamlin finished 12th last fall at Richmond, but that’s an asterisk mark result. In the race, Hamlin led 45 laps and won Stage #1, but then during that Stage caution he was caught speeding on pit road which dropped him to the back. That was a huge setback, and Hamlin simply never fully recovered.
Kevin Harvick – Kevin Harvick finished 7th last fall which is a great result, but I think there’s a chance he was even better than his finish. In the race he finished 5th in Stage #1, but then in Stage #2 around lap 180 during green flag pit stops he got a commitment cone violation which dropped him to the back. In the race, Harvick used a unique pit strategy where he pitted more frequently then others and two laps prior to his problem he was running in 2nd. I’ll note, Harvick bounced back pretty quickly and still managed to finish 10th in Stage #2.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. showed up with speed last fall at Richmond, but he finished 18th when the checkered flag waved. In the race he finished 9th in Stage #1, was running in 8th on lap 146 but then shortly after that during green flag pit stops he was caught speeding on pit road. That dropped him back to the high 20’s which greatly increased his level of difficulty. Following the penalty, Stenhouse never really got closer to the front then the high-teens.