By David Morgan, Associate Editor
Race No. 2 of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs is here as the championship contenders get set to take on the 62nd annual Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway
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 race, which is in its second year as being a Playoff race, will go a long way in determining which drivers move on to the Round of 12, especially with the Charlotte ROVAL looming large next week.
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 21
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 2019 Race Winner: Martin Truex, Jr. – No. 19 Toyota – Started fifth, 186 laps led
September 2018 Race Winner: Kyle Busch – No. 18 Toyota – Started 11th, 92 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:
- Kevin Harvick – No. 4 Ford – 110.4
- Kyle Busch – No. 18 Toyota – 110.2
- Denny Hamlin – No. 11 Toyota – 107.2
- Brad Keselowski – No. 2 Ford – 98.2
- Kurt Busch – No. 1 Chevrolet – 95.3
- Clint Bowyer – No. 14 Ford – 93.9
- Joey Logano – No. 22 Ford – 91.9
- Martin Truex, Jr. – No. 19 Toyota – 89.7
- Jimmie Johnson – No. 48 Chevrolet – 89.1
- Kyle Larson – No. 42 Chevrolet – 88.7
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Standings
- Martin Truex, Jr. (2082 points – Advances with Las Vegas win)
- Kevin Harvick (+52 over cut-off)
- Joey Logano (+48)
- Kyle Busch (+36)
- Brad Keselowski (+31)
- Chase Elliott (+30)
- Denny Hamlin (+29)
- Kyle Larson (+17)
- William Byron (+13)
- Ryan Blaney (+12)
- Alex Bowman (+10)
- Aric Almirola (+6)
- Ryan Newman (-6)
- Kurt Busch (-14)
- Clint Bowyer (-21)
- Erik Jones (-26)
From the Driver’s Seat
“It’s just a perfect racetrack,” said Clint Bowyer. “It’s always been that way. Ever since I started in the Xfinity Series with Richard (Childress), it’s always fit my driving style. It’s that short track and I’ve always said that I wish we had four or five of these all across the country. They certainly hit the mark when they were making Richmond.
“I have a lot of fun there – prerace and everything else. The fan base there has always been good. It’s a good vibe and a good feel for a racetrack being that it kind of reminds you of pulling into the old fairgrounds at a dirt track. There are houses across the street and this is what short-track racing is all about.”
Last Time at Richmond
After 81 tries, Martin Truex, Jr. got the monkey off his back by scoring his elusive first win on a short track when the Cup Series last visited Richmond in April, but it wasn’t easy by any means.
Truex had to hold off attacks from both Clint Bowyer and Joey Logano over the final 50 laps, but held his ground and maintained his place at the top of the leaderboard.
“I’m really excited to win here at Richmond,” Truex said. “I’ve always really enjoyed this track. I’ve always loved coming here. The short track win – everybody kept asking me when it was going to happen. Tonight we didn’t have the best car, but we’ve lost here with the best car a bunch of times. We just fought, we battled.
“Just a blessing to drive these race cars and have an awesome team. We’ve been chipping away at it and hopefully we can get better from here on out.”
Bowyer looked to be the greatest threat to Truex in the closing laps as he made up a two-second deficit to close up on Truex’s rear bumper. Close enough to try and make a move underneath him with 17 laps to go.
The move ultimately didn’t pay off as Bowyer brushed the outside wall while still in pursuit of the lead, allowing Logano to pass him for second. In the end, Logano ran out of time to try and get past Truex, having to settle for a runner-up finish instead.
Behind Truex, Logano, and Bowyer, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin would round out the top-five finishers.
Weekend Schedule (All Times Eastern)
Friday, September 20
- MENCS Practice (11:35 am to 12:25 pm – NBC Sports Network)
- MENCS Final Practice (1:35 pm to 2:25 pm – NBC Sports Network)
- MENCS Qualifying (6:05 pm – NBC Sports Network)
Saturday, September 21
- MENCS Federated Auto Parts 400 (7:30 pm – 400 laps, 300 miles – NBC Sports Network)