October 4, 2022

There are only three races left in NASCAR’s regular season. Kevin Harvick’s win at Michigan last week means there are 15 different winners for 16 playoff berths. This puts additional pressure on a number of drivers to secure a victory this weekend at Richmond.

The Federated Auto Parts 400 is the second race of the season at Richmond Raceway. Denny Hamlin won the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond in April. Athleticismmotorsport reporters, Jeff Gluck and Jordan Bianchipreview this weekend’s race and playoff push.

Denny Hamlin won at Richmond in April with Ryan Blaney on pole and Martin Truex Jr. winning a stage. Should we expect a different race this time?

Gluck: Finally, we have a track without drafting appearing for the second time with the Next Gen car. Even though it’s mid-August, the only track repeated so far has been Atlanta-Richmond so marks a legitimate chance for teams to have a notebook on what worked (and what didn’t). ) at Richmond’s other race in early April. That said, there has certainly been a lot of learning about this car throughout the spring and summer. Maybe we could see different players. But if I had to guess, I think Toyota will have the edge again (like it did in New Hampshire last month, when it took four of the top six spots).

Bianchi: It will be fascinating to see how the race unfolds and what, if any, differences there are between the two races now that the teams are more familiar with the car and this is the second visit to Richmond. The Next Gen car struggled on short, flat tracks, so the hope is that a greater knowledge base will allow for more action on the track whose moniker “Action Track” has been a misnomer these last years. And if all goes well, that bodes well for upcoming round trips to Martinsville and Phoenix, two other tracks with similar characteristics to Richmomd.

Kevin Harvick’s victory last week brought the number of different winners to 15 with just 16 playoff berths. Will Martin Truex Jr. (+600, the favourite) or Ryan Blaney (+1200) follow Harvick with a win or is this not the track for them?

Gluck: Truex absolutely could, hence his favorite status despite not winning this year. Not only does he have a great record in Richmond, but he could have won in the spring. Blaney is another story. Yes, he took pole at Richmond and led 128 laps in April. But those were the first laps he led on the track and his seventh place finish was only the second top 10 of his career there. Yes, he improved at Richmond (which was his worst track). But a victory? It seems overkill.

Bianchi: Richmond has long been a Toyota-dominated track and that is expected to continue on Sunday. Hamlin and Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Truex and Kyle Busch had three of the fastest cars in the spring race, and while everyone can build on what they learned back then, JGR and Toyota will do so as well. Add in the fact that Truex could misuse a win, and the hunch is that JGR is putting a lot of emphasis on giving him every advantage possible to get him back on the winning streak. Consider Truex the favorite to win.

Speaking of the playoffs, do you like the format? It’s still possible there will be more race winners than playoff berths with three races remaining in the regular season.

Gluck: The format helped make it the best season ever, in my opinion. Each week has given us something to look forward to and this year has never been boring or felt like it dragged on forever. It’s a special season. That said, I would like to see an adjustment to the format where any race winner who is a full-time Cup driver automatically makes the playoffs. It would be a shame to see a winner get eliminated and it would be hard to explain to a casual fan who is sold on the “win-and-in” scenario. If there were 17 winners, then NASCAR might just eliminate one more driver from the first round (five instead of four). Otherwise, I think the format has been very entertaining this season.

Bianchi: There is nothing wrong with the format. And while Blaney and/or Truex missing the playoffs despite their high points standings would be unfortunate, NASCAR should in no way be asked to switch formats. Because while Blaney and Truex’s high-level consistency is admirable, victory has a big bearing on who’s eligible for the playoffs and who isn’t. And on that front, both fell short of that goal while 15 drivers did. It’s not some sort of regular occurrence either.

After being all over Kevin Harvick and Bubba Wallace as longshots last week, do you have any sleeper names this week?

Gluck: Bettors ranked the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas as a top four race favorite, so there’s not a ton of value there. If Toyota really has that much strength, you might consider 23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace – but he’s hardly a long shot after four consecutive top 10 finishes (+1600). Instead, one could perhaps make the case for Ty Gibbs, who will once again replace Kurt Busch (who will miss his fourth straight race due to a concussion). While it would certainly be one of the all-time shocks for a 19-year-old to earn his fourth Cup Series start, Gibbs won the Richmond Xfinity Series race from pole in April and led 181 laps there. in two Xfinity starts. He’s listed at +3300 to win, but maybe going into Gibbs’ top five (+425) would be a more realistic bet.

Bianchi: Picking up a flyer on Gibbs is definitely worth the investment considering his abilities, the team he’s with and the track. And it’s not like such unlikely victories aren’t completely unprecedented, so maybe Gibbs can achieve something comparable to what Jamie McMurray (2002 at Charlotte) and Trevor Bayne (2011 at Daytona) have done in recent NASCAR history. Another longshot, if you even want to call it that, is Tyler Reddick. For some reason bettors listed him at +2000, which is pretty high considering he’s had two wins this season and has always been one of the fastest riders.

Who is your choice to win the race?

Gluck: This season has been crazy and unpredictable in many ways. That said, it would seem to fit the narrative if there was yet another new winner. Running favorite Truex ticked that box while throwing the playoff image into extra madness.

Bianchi: All signs point to victory for Truex. He has already won here, he was fast here in the spring and this style of track is the strength of his team. The 2017 Cup champion locks himself into the playoffs on Sunday, causing even more chaos in a season filled with them.

Federated Auto Parts 400 Ratings

DriverOdds

Martin Truex Jr.

+600

Denny Hamlin

+700

Kyle Busch

+700

Christopher Bell

+800

Chase Elliot

+900

Kyle Larson

+1000

Ross Chestnut

+1200

ryan blaney

+1200

Kevin Harvick

+1400

Bubba Wallace

+1600

Joey Logan

+1600

William Byron

+1800

Tyler Red Dick

+2000

Alex Bowman

+2500

Daniel Suarez

+2800

Ty Gibbs

+3300

Aric Almirola

+4000

Chasing Briscoe

+4000

Austin Dillon

+5000

Austin Cindric

+6600

Erik Jones

+6600

Brad Keselowski

+8000

Chris Buescher

+10000

Cole Custer

+25000

Harrison Burton

+35000

Justin Haley

+35000

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

+35000

Michael McDowell

+50000

Noah Gragson

+50000

Ty Dillon

+75000

Corey Lajoie

+150000

Todd Gilliland

+150000

BJ McLeod

+200000

Cody Ware

+200000

JJ Yeley

+200000

Landon Cassil

+200000

(Photo by Martin Truex Jr.: Tim Fuller/USA Today)