Richmond start times: The pressure is on for the top two winless drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series standings, but the good news for Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr. is that Sunday’s race at Richmond Raceway (USA, 2 p.m. ET) should offer a solid opportunity for locking into the playoffs.
With three races remaining in the regular season, Blaney is second in points but still on the bubble with 15 winners occupying slots in the 16-driver playoff grid.
Blaney showed a major uptick in performance during the April 3 race at Richmond, which he started on the pole position. The Team Penske driver led a race-high 128 laps, won Stage 1 and finished seventh – his career best in 12 starts at the 0.75-mile oval.
Truex has been much better in Virginia’s capital, winning three of the past six races on the short track. He led 80 laps during a fourth place earlier this season that was the seventh consecutive top five at Richmond for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver.
With Kevin Harvick’s victory at Michigan, Truex currently is outside championship eligibility, and the 2017 series champion is in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2014.
Given his team’s struggles on road courses and his winless career record at superspeedways, Richmond could be Truex’s last, best hope for a win before the regular season ends at Watkins Glen and Daytona.
This will mark the second annual race for Richmond this year — and the first time since the 2004 inception of NASCAR’s postseason that the track hasn’t held a direct impact on the championship by playing host to either the regular-season cutoff or a race during the playoffs.
For more storylines to follow, check out our viewer’s guide.
Details for Sunday’s Cup race at Richmond Raceway
(All Times Eastern)
START: Command to start engines at 3:10 p.m. … Green flag to wave at 3:17 p.m.
PRERACE: Cup garage opens at Noon … Driver introductions are at 2:30 p.m. … Nick Terry of Motor Racing Outreach will give the invocation at 3:02 p.m. … Specialist Maya Rodriguez of the Training & Doctrine Band in the U.S. Army, will perform the national anthem at 3:03 p.m.
DISTANCE: The race is 400 laps (300 miles) on the 0.75-mile speedway.
STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 70. Stage 2 ends at Lap 230.
TV/RADIO: USA Network prerace coverage will begin at 2 p.m. MRN coverage begins at 2 p.m. and will also stream at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the radio broadcast.
STREAMING: NBC Sports
FORECAST: According to Weather Underground, it’s expected to be 79 degrees with a zero percent chance of rain at the green flag.
LAST TIME: Capitalizing on an alternate tire strategy of two pit stops in the final stage, Denny Hamlin outran Kevin Harvick and William Byron to win at his hometown track in the April 3 race.
LAST YEAR: In the second race of the 2021 playoffs, Truex led the final 51 laps and beat Hamlin by 1.417 seconds to secure advancement to the second round in the Sept. 11, 2021 race.
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