Richmond 101: Qualifying format, TV times, Goodyear tires and more

·6 min read
Richmond 101: Qualifying format, TV times, Goodyear tires and more

The NASCAR Cup Series is back on a short track this weekend as the sport storms into Richmond Raceway.

The Federated Auto Parts 400 on Sunday (3 p.m. ET, USA Network, NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) marks just the second time this season that Cup cars hit a venue for a second time this season, joining Atlanta Motor Speedway as the other.

Get ready for 400 laps around the 0.75-mile oval with all the background you need to know here:

HOT LAPS AT THE ACTION TRACK

NASCAR Cup Series teams practice early Saturday evening (5:05 p.m. ET, USA Network, NBC Sports App, MRN Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), with the 36-car field split into Group A and Group B based on NASCAR’s metric formula. Each group will get 15 minutes of practice ahead of qualifying (5:50 p.m. ET, USA Network, NBC Sports App, MRN Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Qualifying features single-car, single-lap runs for each group. The fastest five in each group will advance to the second round, where those 10 drivers will fight for the Busch Light Pole Award.

RELATED: Weekend schedule | Points standings | Qualifying order

RICHMOND STORY LINES

— Kevin Harvick snapped a 65-race winless streak last week at Michigan, becoming the season’s 15th different winner.

— Despite sitting fourth in the regular-season points standings, Martin Truex Jr. is currently out of the playoffs, trailing Ryan Blaney by 19 points for the final available position.

— Ryan Blaney lost 52 points to Martin Truex Jr. in the last four races in the battle to not be the last driver in the playoffs in points and is now just 19 points ahead of Truex

— Truex has won three of the last six races at Richmond, owns a seven-race top-five streak there and finished fourth in April after leading 80 laps. He has also led 80 laps or more in nine of the last 11 Richmond races.

— Chase Elliott can secure the Regular Season Championship by leaving Richmond with a 121-point lead over second place. Blaney currently holds the second spot and trails by 119 points.

— The longest active top-10 streak is four races by Bubba Wallace, marking his longest top-10 streak and 23XI‘s longest top-10 streak.

Source: Racing Insights

GOODYEAR TIRES

With Richmond’s aging asphalt comes higher tire wear, forcing teams and drivers to be conscious of how quickly they burn through a set of Goodyear tires.

That challenge is often welcomed by teams, and pit strategy dictated the outcome of the April contest that saw Denny Hamlin leave with a win in hand. Cup teams will have nine sets of tires for the 400-lap race, which is an average of just 44 laps (33 miles) per set if they use their full allotment, according to Goodyear.

“Richmond has become a high tire wear track over the years,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear‘s director of racing. “Drivers will search around for grip as tires wear and the track takes rubber during the course of the race. Lap times will fall off over two seconds during a run, so four-tire stops are a given. But when and how often to pit will be key, as it was in the spring race. One good thing for the teams is that this is the same tire combination they ran at Richmond in the spring and at several other tracks throughout the season. That will give them a good understanding of what to expect in this race.”

In addition to this spring’s race at Richmond, this tire setup was also utilized at Phoenix, Gateway and New Hampshire.

RICH HISTORY AT RICHMOND

— NASCAR Cup (Grand National) Series racing at Richmond Raceway began on April 19th, 1953, when Lee Petty won at what was then called the Atlantic Rural Fairgrounds. The track was a 0.5-mile dirt track through the first race of the 1968 season, 24 races. For the fall 1988 race, the half-mile oval track was reconfigured to its current shape and geometry.

— The first race ever held at Richmond was during the 1946 Exposition on Oct. 12 for open-wheel cars (pre-NASCAR), won by the legendary Ted Horn.

— Races at Richmond have been 200, 250, 300, 400 and 500 laps long. The 400-lap distance has been in effect since 1976, on the 0.5-mile track from 1976 to spring 1988 and on the 0.75-mile since September 1988.

— Richmond Raceway is located in Henrico County at the “Richmond Raceway Complex.” The 900-acre complex has six permanent buildings, including the 60,000-square foot Exhibition Hall and the 8,000-seat Classic Amphitheater.

— The first scheduled night race on the 0.75-mile track was held in September 1991, won by Harry Gant as the second win in his streak of four-straight wins that month. March 10, 1964 is the actual date of the first night race at Richmond when the final 100 laps were completed on Tuesday night after rain halted the race on Sunday.

— Ford won the pole for the last four Richmond races with qualifying, most recently with Ryan Blaney in April.

— Joe Gibbs Racing won six of the last eight Richmond races, including the last two.

— Hendrick Motorsports drivers were passed for the win in each of the last two Richmond races.

Source: Racing Insights

ODDS ARE …

Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. are immediate locks this weekend, and the oddsmakers agree. The Joe Gibbs Racing teammates are listed as co-favorites at 6-1, according to DraftKings.

With Truex’s accomplishments listed, let’s shift the focus to Hamlin, the Chesterfield, Virginia native who has won four times at his home track. Hamlin is the most recent Richmond winner and has nine top fives in the last 11 contests at the 0.75-mile track.

In fact, the JGR quartet are all listed with the weekend’s best odds, with six-time Richmond winner Kyle Busch posted at 7-1 odds and Christopher Bell at 9-1 based off his three straight top-six finishes in four Cup Richmond starts.

Further down the list at 15-1 odds sits Kevin Harvick, a three-time Richmond winner. The No. 4 Ford was hot on the heels of Hamlin in April and can use his recently-rekindled momentum to spark quite the tear entering the playoffs.

Does Hamlin complete 2022 Richmond sweep? - Powered By PickUp

MORE: Complete list of odds for Sunday

FANTASY LIVE

Want to manage a team and race your way to the top of the leaderboards? Check out NASCAR Fantasy Live, which is open now. The free-to-play game lets you choose your drivers each week and show off your crew-chief instincts by garaging a driver by the end of Stage 3, and there is a $25,000 prize for the winner.

The 2022 Fantasy Live points leaders are Chase Elliott (841), Ryan Blaney (720) and Martin Truex Jr. (704).

How to play: Fantasy Live | Set up a team today!

ALSO ON NASCAR.COM

Get additional camera views by logging on to NASCAR Drive, where each week a select number of in-car cameras will be available — as well as a battle cam and an overhead look.

NASCAR has partnered with LiveLike to add fan engagement in the NASCAR Mobile App. Log in to the mobile app during the race for polls, quizzes, the cheer meter and more — and see instant results from NASCAR fans like you.