It’s another short track Saturday night in NASCAR. After a week off, NASCAR returns to the Richmond International Raceway. While this race is not as dramatic as when the series returns in the fall for the final race before the chase, just by virtue of being a short track it should be plenty of fun.
“The short tracks in general, the driver can make a difference if his car isn’t 100 percent,” said Denny Hamlin. “Anywhere where you have to use a lot of brake and there is a lot of throttle control, the driver obviously is a bigger factor.”
Beyond the basic premise that it is a short track, drivers say Richmond has some unique characteristics.
"It's entirely a track all its own,” said Ryan Newman. “Lap times fall off huge there. It has a different shape in comparison to all the others. It used to be similar to Phoenix International Raceway, but since the new asphalt was put down in Phoenix, you can't even compare them."
And that older surface will play a big part in the racing.
“Richmond is getting a little trickier it seems like just with the asphalt kind of getting older and the way the cars are and the tire hasn’t really changed there in the last few years,” said Kyle Busch. “The consensus of Richmond is of course just trying to get your car to turn, but yet having really good forward bite. “
Newman is one of 13 drivers in Saturday night’s race with at least one Richmond victory. The aforementioned Kyle Busch leads the way with four wins. Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt, Jr and Tony Stewart have three wins a piece. Hamlin and Clint Bowyer each as a pair of Richmond wins, with Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne, Newman, Matt Kenseth, and Jeff Gordon all holding a single victory.
“Richmond has been great to us lately,” said Edwards. “We have a win there. For us there is really not a lot of pressure with a win already and our current points position. We are going to go there and have some fun, hopefully get our second win, and lock ourselves into the Chase.”
Kyle Larson will lead the field to the green at approx. 6:14 pm Central Time. Brad Keselowski, Bowyer, Kahne and Harvick round out the top five starters and Gordon who it the points leader starts 25th.