Photo: Stephen A. Arce/ASP, Inc.

Up to Speed: Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Preview

By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor

Following a wild opening race for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs in Las Vegas, the championship contenders head back to the East Coast this weekend to take on Richmond Raceway in their inaugural playoff date.

Often described as the perfectly designed racetrack by drivers, the 0.75-mile track lends itself to not only short track characteristics of beating and banging, but also the characteristics of a larger track with the side-by-side racing that will take place throughout the event.

Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400, which moved from the regular season finale to their new date this season, will go a long way in determining which drivers move on to Round two, especially with the Charlotte ROVAL looming large next week.

In addition to being a major cog in the playoff wheel, Richmond also unveils their completed infield renovations this weekend with a new garage area, complete with a fan viewing walkway, an inspection station overlook and new garage suites. A new media center, pedestrian tunnel, 80 new RV parking spaces, and social engagement areas have also been built, along with a new Victory Lane location in the infield to give fans a better view of the post-race celebrations.

By the Numbers

What: Federated Auto Parts 400, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race No. 28 of 36

Where: Richmond Raceway – Richmond, Virginia (Opened: 1946, First Cup race: 1953)

When: Saturday, September 22

TV/Radio: NBC Sports Network, 7:30 pm ET / MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Channel 90

Track Size:  0.75-mile oval

Banking: Turns: 14 degrees; Straights: 8 degrees (front), 2 degrees (back)

Race Length: 400 laps, 300 miles

Stage Lengths: First two stages – 100 laps each, Final stage – 200 laps

April 2018 Race Winner: Kyle Busch – No. 18 Toyota – Started 32nd, 32 laps led

September 2017 Race Winner: Kyle Larson – No. 42 Chevrolet – Started fourth, 53 laps led

Track Qualifying Record: Jeff Gordon – No. 24 Chevrolet – 20.674 seconds, 130.599 mph – 9/4/2013

Top-10 Highest Driver Ratings at Richmond Raceway:

  1. Kyle Busch – No. 18 Toyota – 110.1
  2. Kevin Harvick – No. 4 Ford – 109.4
  3. Denny Hamlin – No. 11 Toyota – 108.9
  4. Brad Keselowski – No. 2 Ford – 96.9
  5. Kurt Busch – No. 41 Ford – 95.6
  6. Clint Bowyer – No. 14 Ford – 93.5
  7. Kyle Larson – No. 42 Chevrolet – 92.3
  8. William Byron – No. 24 Chevrolet – 91.3
  9. Matt Kenseth – No. 6 Ford – 91.0
  10. Joey Logano – No. 22 Ford – 88.2

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Standings

  1. Brad Keselowski (Locked into Round 2 – Vegas win)
  2. Martin Truex, Jr. (2085 points)
  3. Kyle Busch (+63 over cut-off)
  4. Kevin Harvick (+38)
  5. Joey Logano (+34)
  6. Kurt Busch (+24)
  7. Ryan Blaney (+20)
  8. Kyle Larson (+19)
  9. Aric Almirola (+12)
  10. Austin Dillon (+9)
  11. Clint Bowyer (+7)
  12. Alex Bowman (+6)
  13. Jimmie Johnson (-6)
  14. Chase Elliott (-9)
  15. Erik Jones (-19)
  16. Denny Hamlin (-20)

From the Driver’s Seat

“I don’t really think of Richmond as a short track,” said Chase Elliott. “I think Bristol and Martinsville are kind of the only two short tracks on the schedule. Richmond is just a different place and I think that is what makes it so tough. It seems everyone knows how to drive the racetrack and it’s hard to be different. That may be what makes the racing pretty good there because it’s hard for people to be different and everyone is kind of choked into doing the same thing and you really have to be superior to show your strength.”

Last Time at Richmond

Back at Richmond this Spring, Kyle Busch’s crew was the star of the show, getting the 2015 series champion out front when it mattered most and allowing him to do his thing over a series of late restarts.

Busch would pull away from Chase Elliott in the closing laps to notch his third straight win in 2018, with Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, and Kevin Harvick rounding out the top-five.

“All these guys – everybody on this whole M&M Camry, they do a great job for me,” said Kyle Busch. “I can’t say enough about Adam Stevens (crew chief) and my guys and the pit crew tonight. They won this race for us. They got us off pit road first those last two times that we came down for tires and got us where we needed to be.

“I can’t say enough about this Toyota Camry. It was just awesome today. Out front all day long. I want to thank DVX Sunglasses, Rheem, Interstate Batteries, Cessna, NOS Energy Drink and all of the fans. This is really cool for as good as the crowd was tonight. Really cool out here in Richmond, really chilly but otherwise it was a fantastic evening so hopefully everybody enjoyed that.”

Weekend Schedule (All Times Eastern)

Friday, September 21

  • MENCS Practice (11:35 am to 12:25 pm – NBC Sports Network)
  • MENCS Final Practice (1:30 pm to 2:20 pm – NBC Sports Network)
  • MENCS Qualifying (6:05 pm – NBC Sports Network)

Saturday, September 22

  • MENCS Federated Auto Parts 400 (7:30 pm – 400 laps, 300 miles – NBC Sports Network)

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s. Learning to love the sport at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993, he has been hooked ever since. David is a National Motorsports Press Association member, having covered races across the country since 2012 and looks forward to visiting every track on the circuit in the near future.