Recent Richmond history of drivers trying to make Chase

Leave a comment

Five spots in the Chase for the Sprint Cup remain available heading into Saturday night’s race at Richmond International Raceway and history indicates those five drivers are likely to remain there.

Jamie McMurray will clinch a Chase spot upon starting the race. Also likely to transfer are Ryan Newman, Jeff Gordon, Paul Menard and Clint Bowyer.

Things could change if the winner is a first-time victor this season. However, the last time a driver scored their first win of the season in the fall Richmond race was 2004 with Jeremy Mayfield. He won to earn a spot in the inaugural Chase. Making the task more difficult could be Brad Keselowski. He’s led 66 percent of the laps run in the past two fall Richmond races, winning this event last year.

Something else to consider: Eighteen of the last 20 Richmond races were won by drivers currently locked into the Chase. The other two races? They were won by Bowyer.

Here’s a look at how those trying to maintain their Chase-eligible spot and those trying to make it into the Chase have fared recently at Richmond.

Jamie McMurray

Clinches by: Starting the race

Average finish last 5 Richmond races: 10.2

Best finish in last 5 Richmond races: 4th (three times)

Laps led in last 5 Richmond races: 10

Note: This will mark his first time in the Chase.

 

Ryan Newman

Clinches by: Finishing 31st or better; 32nd and leads at least one lap, or 33rd and leads the most laps

Average finish last 5 Richmond races: 9.2

Best finish in last 5 Richmond races: 3rd (Sept. 2013)

Laps led in last 5 Richmond races: 4

Note: Has finished worse than 31st in two of his 27 career starts at Richmond.

 

Jeff Gordon

Clinches by: Finishing 17th or better; 18th and leads at least one lap, or 19th and leads the most laps.

Average finish last 5 Richmond races: 6.2

Best finish in last 5 Richmond races: 2 (twice)

Laps led in last 5 Richmond races: 222

Note: Has finished worse than 17th in two of the last 17 Richmond races.

 

Paul Menard

Clinches by: Finishing ninth or better; 10th and leads at least one lap, or 11th and leads the most laps.

Average finish last 5 Richmond races: 15.0

Best finish in last 5 Richmond races: 5th (Sept. 2013)

Laps led in last 5 Richmond races: 3

Note: Has one career finish of 12th or better in 17 starts at Richmond.

 

Clint Bowyer

Clinches by: Finishing 28th or better if there is a repeat winner, 29th and leads at least a lap in race won by repeat winner, or 30th and leads the most laps in a race won by a repeat winner.

Average finish last 5 Richmond races: 16.4

Best finish in last 5 Richmond races: 2nd (April 2013)

Laps led in last 5 Richmond races: 185

Note: Has one career finish outside the top 25 in 19 starts at Richmond – placed 43rd in April 2014.

 

Aric Almirola

Makes Chase: By winning. If there is a repeat winner, finishing in the top 16 in Chase grid (currently 29 points behind 16th)

Average finish last 5 Richmond races: 15.0

Best finish in last 5 Richmond races: 8th (April 2013)

Laps led in last 5 Richmond races: 0

Note: Has never led a lap at Richmond in Sprint Cup.

 

Kasey Kahne

Makes Chase: By winning. If there is a repeat winner, finishing in the top 16 in the Chase grid (currently 31 points behind 16th)

Average finish last 5 Richmond races: 14.4

Best finish in last 5 Richmond races: 6th (April 2015)

Laps led in last 5 Richmond races: 0

Note: Has made Chase each of the past three seasons.

 

Greg Biffle

Makes Chase: By winning.

Average finish last 5 Richmond races: 20.6

Best finish in last 5 Richmond races: 12th (Sept. 2013)

Laps led in last 5 Richmond races: 0

Note: Has made the Chase each of the past three seasons.

 

Kyle Larson 

Makes Chase: By winning

Average finish last 3 Richmond races: 13.0

Best finish in last 3 Richmond races: 11th (Sept. 2014)

Laps led in last 3 Richmond races: 0

Note: This will be his fourth career start at Richmond.

 

Austin Dillon

Makes Chase: By winning

Average finish last 3 Richmond races: 24.6

Best finish in last 3 Richmond races: 20th (Sept. 2014)

Laps led in last 3 Richmond races: 0

Note: This will be his fourth career start at Richmond.

 

AJ Allmendinger

Makes Chase: By winning

Average finish last 5 Richmond races: 14.2

Best finish in last 5 Richmond races: 6th (April 2014)

Laps led in last 5 Richmond races: 0

Note: Last chance to make Chase for a second consecutive year.

 

Casey Mears

Makes Chase: By winning

Average finish last 5 Richmond races: 27.2

Best finish in last 5 Richmond races: 19th (April 2014)

Laps led in last 5 Richmond races: 0

Note: Scored best finish of the year (sixth) in season-opening Daytona 500.

 

Danica Patrick

Makes Chase: By winning

Average finish last 5 Richmond races: 26.8

Best finish in last 5 Richmond races: 16th (Sept. 2014)

Laps led in last 5 Richmond races: 0

Note: Has best finish of 15th (Dover) in last 17 starts.

 

Tony Stewart 

Makes Chase: By winning

Average finish last 5 Richmond races: 20.6

Best finish in last 5 Richmond races: 4th (Sept. 2012)

Laps led in last 5 Richmond races: 15

Note: On short tracks this year, has placed sixth (Bristol I), 19th (Bristol II), 20th (Martinsville I) and 41st (Richmond I).

 

David Ragan

Makes Chase: By winning

Average finish last 5 Richmond races: 27.0

Best finish in last 5 Richmond races: 20th (April 2013)

Laps led in last 5 Richmond races: 0

Note: Best finish since joining Michael Waltrip Racing in May is 12th at Daytona in July.

 

Sam Hornish Jr.

Makes Chase: By winning

Average finish last 5 Richmond races: 23.6

Best finish in last 5 Richmond races: 8th (Sept. 2009)

Laps led in last 5 Richmond races: 0

Note: Top-four finishes this season has either been on a restrictor-plate track or a road course.

 

Trevor Bayne

Makes Chase: By winning

Average finish in 1 Richmond race: 24.0

Best finish in 1 Richmond race: 24th (April 2015)

Laps led in 1 Richmond race: 0

Note: This is his second career start at Richmond.

 

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Makes Chase: By winning

Average finish last 5 Richmond races: 23.6

Best finish in last 5 Richmond races: 10th (Sept. 2013)

Laps led in last 5 Richmond races: 0

Note: Has finished 30th or worse in four of the last six races.

 

Justin Allgaier

Makes Chase: By winning

Average finish last 3 Richmond races: 22.3

Best finish in last 3 Richmond races: 18th (April 2015)

Laps led in last 3 Richmond races: 0

Note: Most recent top-10 finish was an eighth at Bristol in the spring.

 

 

Rutledge Wood’s explanation of the Chase for the Sprint Cup, which can be seen exclusively on NBC and NBCSN.

 

Las Vegas race results, driver points

Las Vegas race results
Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kurt Busch scored his first career Cup victory at his hometown track, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and is the first driver to advance to third round of the playoffs.

Busch led the final 26 laps, taking advantage when a caution came out in the middle of a green-flag pit cycle. Busch was the only playoff driver who had yet to pit before the caution.

Matt DiBenedetto finished second and was followed by Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. and Alex Bowman.

Click here for Cup race results

DRIVER POINTS

Alex Bowman holds the final transfer spot to the next round. Kyle Busch trails Bowman by nine points. Clint Bowyer trails Bowman by 20 points. Aric Almirola trails Bowman by 27 points. Austin Dillon trails Bowman by 32 points.

Click here for driver points

Kurt Busch wins Las Vegas Cup race in overtime

Leave a comment

After entering the Round of 12 last in the playoff standings, Kurt Busch won Sunday’s Cup playoff race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in an overtime finish, claiming his first win of the season and advancing him into the Round of 8.

Busch held off Matt DiBenedetto and Denny Hamlin to snap a 46 race winless streak and also earn his first Cup win at his home track.

Busch led 29 of the last 34 laps. His time at the front of the pack was a result of leading when a caution came out during green flag pit stops late in the final stage. DiBenedetto was on pit road when the caution came out with 33 laps to go and restarted first with Busch second.

“This is what kids dream of,” an emotional Busch told NBCSN in Victory Lane. “When they grow up racing you dream of winning at your hometown track and for two decades it’s kicked my butt. And tonight with this Monster Energy Chevy, I’m in awe. I knew the race would come to us, we needed to get to nightfall. One of those quirky (crew chief) Matt McCall pit sequences finally unfolded. We got lucky.

“You got to be lucky. And you have to be lucky in any race. But we did it tonight with teamwork and pulling through and not giving up. But this is Vegas, I miss the fans. I miss them so much. … My hometown is special. This Vegas place is special.”

The top five was completed by Martin Truex Jr. and Alex Bowman.

More: Race results, point standings

The two-lap dash to the finish was caused by an incident involving William Byron, Christopher Bell and Corey LaJoie with seven laps to go. Bell cut a tire from contact with the wall and as he slowed Byron ran into the back of his car before going into a spin.

Hamlin was among a large group of drivers who pit for fresh tires following a caution with 18 laps to go, but was unable to complete his charge through the field.

“(Hamlin) had a ton of speed, I was wide open,” Busch said. “You have to manipulate the draft. I pulled out some old drag racing skills on the restarts. I knew that that was our strong suit. I knew that was the Ford’s (DiBenedetto) weak suit. We just put ourselves in position and we held off.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: Denny Hamlin

STAGE 2 WINNER: Chase Elliott

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Denny Hamlin led 121 of 268 laps. He entered the race having only led 18 laps in his Las Vegas career … Matt DiBenedetto finished second in both Las Vegas races this season … Martin Truex Jr. has finished in the top four in 10 of the last 12 races … Kyle Busch placed sixth for his fourth consecutive top-10 finish, his longest streak of top-10 finishes this season … Chris Buescher placed ninth for his eighth top-10 finish of 2020 and his fourth in the last eight races.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Joey Logano finished 14th after he had to pit on Lap 91 to fix a left rear tire rub, a result of contact with Kyle Busch following Denny Hamlin’s three-wide pass for the lead on Lap 88Tyler Reddick finished 38th after he tagged the wall late in Stage 2 and went to the garage ending his day … After finishing sixth in the first two stages, Austin Dillon finished 32nd after an overheating problem forced him to pit road for repairs with 50 laps to go.

WHAT’S NEXT: Race at Talladega Superspeedway, 2 p.m. ET Oct. 4 on NBC

Sunday Cup race at Las Vegas: Start time, TV channel

Leave a comment

The second round of the Cup playoffs begins with the Sunday Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The 1.5-mile track kicks off the Round of 12. Winning the race and stage points are a premium for playoff drivers before the races at Talladega and the Charlotte Roval.

Kevin Harvick, who won at Bristol, starts from the pole.

Here is all the info for the Sunday Cup race at Las Vegas:

(All times are Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given by Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis at 7:07 p.m. The green flag waves at 7:17 p.m.

PRERACE: Cup garage opens at Noon. Drivers report to their cars at 6:50 p.m. The invocation will be given at 7 p.m. by Motor Racing Outreach Chaplain, Billy Mauldin. The national anthem will be performed by Sierra Black at 7:01 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 267 laps (400.5 miles) around the 1.5-mile track.

COMPETITION CAUTION: Lap 25

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 80. Stage 2 ends on Lap 160

TV/RADIO: NBCSN will televise the race. Coverage begins at 6 p.m with NASCAR America, followed by Countdown to Green at 6:30 p.m. Race coverage begins at 7 p.m. Performance Racing Network’s radio coverage will begin at 6 p.m. and also can be heard at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the broadcast.

STREAMING: Watch the race on the NBC Sports App

FORECAST: The wunderground.com forecast calls for sunny skies with a high of 96 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST RACE: Kevin Harvick beat Kyle Busch to win at Bristol and claim his ninth win of the season.

LAST POINTS RACE AT LAS VEGAS: Joey Logano beat Matt DiBenedetto and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in February.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the lineup.

CATCH UP ON NBC SPORTS’ COVERAGE:

Kurt Busch seeks first Las Vegas win but without hometown fans

Michael Jordan excited for NASCAR future with Denny Hamlin

Carolina Blue: Brad Daugherty and Michael Jordan bonded by NASCAR

Germain Racing sells charter, will exit sport at end of season

Charlotte Roval to host limited number of fans

Friday 5: Team’s departure adds to ‘extremely stressful’ time

NASCAR fines Hendrick Motorsports $100,000

NTSB releases final report on Dale Jr. plane crash

Bubba Wallace to receive Stan Musial award for extraordinary character

Long: 100 days left in 2020, what else can happen?

Kurt Busch seeks first Las Vegas win, but without hometown fans

Kurt Busch
Getty Images
Leave a comment

A win by Kurt Busch in tonight’s Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7 p.m. ET on NBCSN) couldn’t come under more bittersweet circumstances for the Chip Ganassi Racing driver.

Should Busch claim the victory on the 1.5-mile track, he’d go from being the last driver on the playoff grid (3,001 points entering the race) to the first driver to advance to the Round of 8.

While it would be his first victory of the year, it would also be his first NASCAR win at his home track in 23 starts across the Cup and Xfinity Series.

More: Stage points critical at Vegas

“The Vegas track has definitely been one of the tough ones for me over the years with results and finishes not where I would have expected them to be,” Busch said this week. “And the teams that I’ve raced for just have never quite found that right magic set-up or combination. And then for me, it’s a track that I just have that trouble with.

“There are a few tracks like Indianapolis and Martinsville; those are a few places where I struggle. And so with Vegas, I always put that little extra hometown pressure on myself and I would love to win there.”

The 42-year-old Las Vegas-native rolls off ninth on the 1.5-mile track. It’s his fourth while driving for Ganassi.

In his 21 Cup starts in Las Vegas, Busch’s best result is third in 2005 when he competed for Roush Fenway Racing. He has just one other top five. That came in last year’s spring race when he drove a throwback paint scheme to his 1999 NASCAR Southwest Series championship.

That day he led 23 laps. It was only the seventh time he’d led laps there and just the third time he’d totaled more than six laps led.

In February, Busch finished 25th.

If Busch were to finally make it to Vegas’ Victory Lane, the celebration would be somewhat muted.

It was announced last weekend that fans would not be allowed to attend the races at Las Vegas due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I would love to win through the spirit of the camera and everything on NBC Sports; and I know the fans there, local, will be watching and cheering on the Busch brothers,” Busch said. “So, that’s where I would connect. And hopefully do it through the TV side of it. We’ll get fans back one day and we’ll come back and race.”

Busch enters the Round of 12 having earned just one top 10 in the first round, an eighth-place finish at Darlington. He finished 13th at Richmond and 15th at Bristol.

“What I like is we have had better lap times at all three races so far compared to maybe the five or six races leading into the playoffs,” Busch said. “We know that our cushion is gone. We ended Bristol with 33 points to the good. And now we start Vegas minus four (points behind Austin Dillon in the cutoff spot). So that’s just part of the system and now we have to be perfect. We have to get every point possible that we’re able to get on our own at Vegas, Talladega, and the Roval. And, that should help us advance.”