NASCAR PREVIEW – Federated Auto Parts 400
NASCAR rolls into Richmond International Raceway on Saturday night for the Federated Auto Parts 400; the final tune up before the Chase for the Championship begins next week in Chicago.
NASCAR: Federated Auto Parts 400 (400 laps, 300 miles)
Where: Richmond International Raceway, Richmond, VA
Federated Auto Parts 400 Start Time: Saturday, September 12th 7:30 PM EST
Richmond International Raceway has been a stop on NASCAR’s top circuit since 1953, but more recently it has increased in importance as this is the final chance to qualify for the playoff format that was introduced in 2004. While 11 drivers have secured a spot in The Chase, a number of other drivers still need to secure their spot on Saturday night.
The drivers who have secured their spot in the playoff format are:
- Jimmie Johnson (4 wins/817 points)
- Kyle Busch (4 wins/471 points)
- Joey Logano (3 wins/906 points)
- Matt Kenseth (3 wins/776 points)
- Kevin Harvick (2 wins/948 points)
- Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (2 wins/855 points)
- Kurt Busch (2 wins/752 points)
- Carl Edwards (2 wins/713 points)
- Brad Keselowski (1 win/837 points)
- Martin Truex, Jr. (1 win/806 points)
- Denny Hamlin (1 win/754 points)
The drivers who are battling for a spot in the championship are:
- Jamie McMurray (726 points)
- Ryan Newman (714 points)
- Jeff Gordon (700 points)
- Paul Menard (692 points)
- Clint Bowyer (682 points)
If a driver who already has won during the current season wins on Saturday night, McMurray, Newman and Gordon will automatically qualify for the Chase.
One thing to consider when evaluating this race is that in 118 previous races at this track the race has been won from the pole 23 times, from a top-5 starting position 66 times (56%) and from a top-10 starting position 91 times (78%). Also, on only 10 previous occasions has this race been won by a driver starting from 21st position or later (9%).
There will be a number of drivers looking to secure a spot in the Chase for the Championship at Richmond. We will try to narrow down the contenders and pretenders to provide you with some NASCAR picks if you are looking to play this race.
Federated Auto Parts 400 Picks
Kevin Harvick (9-2 Bovada) – Harvick has been the hottest driver on the circuit since last fall when he took down the 2014 Chase for the Championship. He is no stranger to success at Richmond with three previous victories and 18 Top 10 finishes in 28 previous appearances at RIR.
Denny Hamlin (9-1 Bovada) – Hamlin has a history of success at RIR, but an ACL injury suffered while playing basketball this week may affect his performance on Saturday night. While Hamlin is prepared to finish the NASCAR season with the injury, the injury is bound to take a toll on him physically and possibly mentally. Hamlin has two wins in 18 previous appearances at RIR.
Matt Kenseth (9-1 Bovada) – Kenseth has shown consistency at RIR with 14 Top 10 finishes in 31 career appearances. Since joining Joe Gibbs racing in 2013 Kenseth has 4 finishes within the top 7 at Richmond.
Kyle Busch (5-1 Bovada) – Kyle Busch has won 20% of his Sprint Cup appearances at RIR. He has four wins in 20 career appearances at Richmond International Raceway, but all of those wins occurred in the spring race at this track. With a position in the playoffs secure we expect Busch to not take too many chances at RIR on Saturday night.
Joey Logano (7-1 Bovada) – Since joining Penske Racing in 2013, Logano has 4 Top 6 finishes at RIR in 5 appearances including a win in 2013. Logano is putting things together after not finding much success early in his career with Joe Gibbs racing and he should be a competitor in the 2015 Chase.
Tony Stewart (66-1 Bovada) – I know that Stewart’s inclusion on this list may leave most of you questioning my sanity, Smoke is a former two time Champion and his only hope of qualifying for the Chase for the Championship lies with a win at RIR on Saturday night. Stewart won at this track on three occasions early in his career and recent success has eluded him at RIR, but he is a competitor through and though and when it comes to securing a spot in the Chase his killer instinct may emerge.
Jeffrey Earnhardt (500-1 Bovada) – Dale Jr.’s nephew makes his first career start in the Sprint Cup circuit on Saturday night at RIR. While not experiencing very much success in other NASCAR series we do not expect much in his debut, but the name always catches attention at this level.
Paul Menard (100-1 Bovada) – Although Menard needs a decent performance to secure his spot in the Chase, this historically has not been one of his better tracks. In 17 career starts at RIR, Menard has one Top 10 finish. Look for him to be in the middle of the pack just looking to secure his spot in the Chase.
Buckle up on Saturday night as the battle for a spots in the Chase for the Championship are at stake at Richmond International Raceway. With pressure on drivers to make the Chase expect a full our effort and some tough one-on-one battles to erupt.