This week, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is at Richmond International Raceway for the last event before the playoffs. During the Chase’s 12-year history, the venue has served as a battleground for last chances. Perhaps it is the perfect place because of its parity. In the last nine events there, Chevy, Ford, and Toyota have walked away with three wins each.
Five drivers are looking to clinch their Chase spot tonight. For some, their chances are greatly affected by one factor – will there be a new winner or repeat winner? Anything can happen, but before the green flag flies here are some stats to consider.
• If there is a repeat winner tonight, @jamiemcmurray, @RyanJNewman, and @JeffGordonWeb will clinch regardless of finishing order. Each have solid stats at Richmond. In the past five races, they collectively have ten top-10s and six top-fives finishes. McMurray, Newman, and Gordon will start 31st, 13th, and 23rd tonight.
• Paul Menard and @ClintBowyer are in the red zone and will need a solid finish tonight to clinch their Chase ticket. Bowyer has had recent success here. His last two finishes were third and ninth respectively. In comparison, Menard has struggled, scoring finishes of 18th and 15th. He will begin 22nd while Bowyer will start 26th.
• Richmond does not have favorites. Even the best at the Virginia-based track have faced difficulty. @KyleBusch has the most wins among active drivers, four, along with the top average finish, 7.4. However, his past five races there do not reflect such success. In four of those events, he finished 14th or worse. With summer momentum on his side, will Busch get back to his winning ways at Richmond? He will start fourth.
• Looking specifically at the past five races at Richmond, @KevinHarvick leads the pack with a victory and average finish of 6.0. However, “The Closer” has led only 45 laps. In the same amount of time, @keselowski has led 648 laps, the most, but posted an average finish of 14.4. At Richmond, the winner is not decided until the checkered flag flies. Harvick and Keselowski will start sixth and third respectively.
• Penske Racing was able to sweep both Richmond events in 2014. However, of the two drivers, @joeylogano has the better recent stats and could be a threat for the win tonight. In the past five races, he has accumulated four finishes of sixth or better and led a total of 140 laps. He will start from the pole tonight.
• Here is the breakdown of the last ten Richmond events by organization victories:
Joe Gibbs Racing – three (2010, 2011, 2012)
Penske Racing – two (2014)
Richard Childress Racing – two (2011, 2013)
Stewart-Haas Racing – one (2015)
Roush-Fenway Racing – one (2013)
Michael Waltrip Racing – one (2012)
Noticeably one of the series top organizations, Hendrick Motorsports is not included. They have not been to victory lane at Richmond since 2008. Will they break that trend today?