Tag Archives: Richmond International Raceway

NASCAR Chase Bubble Watch – First Time Winner Watch Richmond

It is the time NASCAR fans have been waiting for, the last race before the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup. Richmond International Raceway has been the location of many great stories of drivers and teams doing anything to make the Chase. This year the changes making winning more important have many people expecting the drama to be ramped up even more.

Here are the drivers to watch who still have a chance to make the Chase. The key is to watch for a new winner this season. A new winner this season can take away the prize and the chances for other drivers to make the Chase.

NEW WINNER:

When watching the race much of the hopes and dreams of the drivers depends on if a driver who has not won yet this year wins the race. That driver would simply win and make the Chase. There are sixteen drivers in this position.

Of those sixteen, Matt Kenseth does not need to win, he is the highest in points without a win and would make the Chase regardless. There are two spots left to fill in the Chase. Even though Matt Kenseth hasn’t won a race if he does it does not change any of the scenarios for the other drivers trying to make the Chase.

Ryan Newman is nineteen points ahead of Greg Biffle in the standings. They are racing each other for the last remaining position available in points if there is a new winner. If either wins it doesn’t really matter as they would be in.

In the new winner scenario, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Larson and all the other drivers in the top 30 in points need to be that new winner in order to make the Chase.

REPEAT WINNER:

When watching the race if one of the drivers who is already locked into the Chase because they won a race the outlook changes. One of those drivers plus Matt Kenseth wins the race then there would be not one but two spots available for drivers who are highest in points and have not won a race.

If this is the case then Ryan Newman just has to finish 41st or better and he makes the Chase. 42nd if he leads a lap and 43rd if he leads the most laps. In other words he is all but locked in if there is a repeat winner.

Greg Biffle is in a similar place as Newman he has to finish 22nd or better and he makes the Chase. 23rd if he leads a lap and 24th if he leads the most laps. Biffle is in a pretty good spot if there is a repeat winner.

Clint Bower and Kyle Larson are 23 and 24 points respectively behind Biffle. They have a chance but Biffle must falter for them to make it into the Chase if there is a repeat winner. They will have their own race within the race in order to be in position to pounce on a mistake by Biffle.

Since there would be no new winner in this scenario all the other drivers in the top 30 do not have a chance to make the Chase. See Chase Grid Below:

If you cannot get to Richmond International Raceway for the Federated Auto Parts 400 it will be broadcast live on ABC at 7:30 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 289999 Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Credit: NASCAR Media
Credit: NASCAR Media

Kasey Kahne Has to Excel at Atlanta Motor Speedway

Kasey Kahne will not make the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup unless he either wins a race or has some of the best runs of his career at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Richmond International Raceway the next two weeks.

When Kasey Kahne moved to Hendrick Motor Sports it was full of promise after bouncing around from some teams that were in a transition and struggling. That was indeed the case as Kahne won two races each of the last two years. He also made the Chase both years finishing fourth in 2012 and twelfth in 2013. This year is a different story.

To date Kahne has only two top five finishes and nine top ten finishes. The two prior years he had seven and eight top five finishes at this point in the season. Looking at top ten finishes his statistics don’t look as bad. He currently has nine compared to eleven and thirteen at this point the two prior seasons. Unfortunately top ten finishes don’t win Championships in the Sprint Cup Series, it takes top five finishes and wins.

Kahne’s other teammates Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. are having one of the best seasons of their careers. Jimmie Johnson isn’t having a great season but not a bad one either.

What do they need to fix? Well that is not apparent at all. In some races they run great but either get caught up in something or have something break to ruin it. In other races Kahne looks like he is driving for a different team than Hendrick Motor Sports.

The current points leader and favorite to win the Sprint Cup, Jeff Gordon’s team and cars are prepared in the same shop as Kahne’s by the same people. This leads to further head scratching. What happened to the adage “A rising tide lifts all boats”?

Kasey Kahne, Kenny Francis his crew chief and his whole team must perform flawlessly the next two races or they will not make the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Although a couple of top five finishes might get them in by points that will only happen if more than one of the drivers ahead in points has a disastrous race. He must win to get in the Chase.

We’re in a tough spot still because we need maximum points every week and we also need a win to secure our spot in the Chase, but we’ve had pretty fast cars and the team has been doing a much better job,” Kahne said. “I think all of us communicating and working together, it’s been better for the last month, month-and-a-half than what it was earlier in the season. We just have to do the same thing, but we need to max our points each weekend and go for wins. Hopefully between one of those we can work our way in.

Kahne’s driver’s rating of 86 at Atlanta Motor Speedway isn’t the best but he does have two wins there.

As Kasey Kahne said they are in a tough spot. In reality based on past performance they have not been able to put two great races together this year. No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS team has a big hill to climb but it isn’t out of the question.

The second to last race to the Chase will be at Atlanta Motor Speedway Sunday, August 31st. If you cannot get to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Oral-B USA 500 it will be broadcast on ESPN starting at 7:30 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 289672 Sean Gardner/Getty Images

What to Do About These NASCAR Goodyear Tires?

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series had a very exciting race at Richmond International Speedway. Nothing like Saturday Night Racing under the lights to ramp up the excitement, drama, and racing.

In the past few weeks some of the driver and teams have had problems with tires. At California it was left side tires and at the other tracks it was right side tires. This week at Richmond International Raceway the problem was right front tires.

To make the problem worse, or better yet more spectacular, the right front tires in this race were a dual compound. This type of tires has a harder inside edge to make it more durable. These dual zone tires, as they are called by Goodyear, are intended to make the racing better. Goodyear certainly accomplished that.

The only problem, one which could not be anticipated, is that after about 54 laps the inside “Endurance” zone of the tire gave up spectacularly on some of the cars. To make matters worse when it did give up it would wrap around the brake rotor and lines and catch fire.

Make no mistake about it, it is easy to point a finger Goodyear’s way when cars are aflame and say that isn’t good but that isn’t necessarily the correct answer. Watching the coverage on TV, the close-ups of each tire on fire clearly showed those cars had a large amount of camber in the right front tire.

Tire camber is the angle of the tire to flat pavement. If you look at your car in the driveway all of the tread will be contacting the pavement from the inside of the tire to the outside. Those NASCAR teams had essentially only the inside “Endurance” zone of the tire contacting the pavement. The advantage of doing this is that when the car is in the corner, when they need maximum grip, the whole tread is in contact with the pavement.

What happens is that on the straightaways only the “Endurance” zone is contacting the pavement. This was unnecessarily putting more wear on that part of the right front tires as they load and unload entering and leaving the corners; not to mention the small tri-oval.

The last 20 laps of racing were great up front. There were no tire issues with those teams—just great racing. It’s not the Goodyear tires; it’s what the teams do to them. What to do about these NASCAR Goodyear tires? Nothing! Please leave them alone, this has been some of the best NASCAR racing in years.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit:  297648 Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images

 

 

Denny Hamlin Wants to Make Up For Lost Time at Richmond

This week NASCAR is back from the Easter break for some short track Saturday night racing at Richmond International Raceway. Denny Hamlin has an outstanding record at Richmond. Hamlin missed this race last year due to an injury but is ready to get back to victory lane.

Richmond International Raceway is one of the neatest short tracks on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule. It is 3/4 of a mile in length but looks similar to the 1.5 mile D shaped ovals. Make no mistake about it though this high speed short track is just that. Some of the most exciting racing in NASCAR happens here. There is 14 degrees of banking in all four corners, 8 degrees on the front stretch and a relatively flat 2 degrees on the back stretch.

Looking at the Driver Ratings for Richmond, Denny Hamlin has the field covered with a 114.8 in spite of his last two races here finishing 21 and 18th. Hamlin does have to watch out for his teammate Kyle Busch (111.9) and Kevin Harvick (110.0), each of which has won the last two spring races. In fact since 2009 eight of the last ten races has been won by one of those three drivers. Busch won 4, Hamlin 2 and Harvick 2.

Last year Denny Hamlin missed the race due to his back injury and Brian Vickers drove the FedEx Toyota to a disappointing 35th place finish. This year Hamlin wants to make up for that by winning the race and reserving his place in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Since this is a short track the Toyota Owners 400 is 400 laps or 300 miles.

If you cannot get to Richmond International Raceway for the Toyota Owners 400 it will be broadcast on FOX on Saturday, April 26th starting at 6:30 PM.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Top 10 Driver Ratings at Richmond
Denny Hamlin………………………. 114.8
Kyle Busch…………………………. 111.9
Kevin Harvick………………………. 110.0
Clint Bowyer………………………… 100.7
Tony Stewart…………………………. 96.5
Jeff Gordon………………………….. 96.0
Kurt Busch……………………………. 92.2
Ryan Newman……………………….. 91.6
Carl Edwards………………………… 90.1
Jimmie Johnson…………………….. 88.5
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2013 races (18 total) among active drivers at Richmond International Raceway

Feature Photo Credit: 285334 Streeter Lecka/Getty Images