StatChat - NASCAR Cup Series @ Richmond

This Sunday’s race is the 2021 schedule’s “Turn 1” – we will officially be 25% of the way through the season.  Last week, Martin Truex Jr. bucked the trend and became our first two-time winner of the season at Martinsville.  While it was fun to have a new one each week, we were never going to have 36 different winners.  There are, however, still some real contenders who have not won a race yet this year. 

 

Denny Hamlin has put together an impressive start, but that first-place finish has eluded him so far.  Last year, Kevin Harvick had a win, a 2nd, a 3rd, and two 5th place finishes through the first 8 races on his way to 9 total wins.  Defending champion Chase Elliott has two 2nd-place finishes already this year, but has also matched that with two finishes outside of the top-20 (including a DNF at Atlanta).  Throw in Brad Keselowski, the Busch brothers, and Alex Bowman, and you’ve got a long line of drivers itching to get their first victory of 2021.  Will Sunday give us another new winner?

 

This weekend, the Cup Series returns to Virginia for a visit to Richmond Raceway.  First opened in 1946 (and celebrating 75 years this year), it is a 0.75-mile D-shaped asphalt oval.  NASCAR began racing at Richmond in 1953, and has been regularly hosting 2 races a year since 1959.

 

The race will be 400 laps (for a total of 300 miles), with stage breaks occurring at 80 – 235 – 400, and a competition caution at lap 30.  The fuel window is approximately 125-130 laps, though teams may opt to pit sooner for fresher tires.

 

NASCAR has run 2,764.05 miles so far this year, and the only driver who has driven 100% of them is Denny Hamlin.

 

Top 5 Career Average Finishers at Richmond:

Kyle Busch

6.77 over 30 races

Denny Hamlin

9.25 over 28 races

Kevin Harvick

9.74 over 39 races

Joey Logano

10.78 over 23 races

Kyle Larson

11.67 over 12 races

 

Bottom 5 Career Average Finishers at Richmond:

Quin Houff

33.67 over 3 races

Michael McDowell

32.16 over 19 races

Ross Chastain

31.75 over 4 races

Corey Lajoie

29.17 over 6 races

Matt DiBenedetto

27.64 over 11 races

 

Richmond Raceway is a Short Track.

 

Top 5 Career Average Finishers at Short Tracks:

Kyle Busch

11.70 over 155 races

Denny Hamlin

11.71 over 149 races

Brad Keselowski

12.62 over 112 races

Chase Elliott

12.65 over 51 races

Joey Logano

13.19 over 120 races

 

Richard Petty again proves to be the class of the field, with 13 all-time wins at Richmond.  Bobby Allison trails behind him with 7 wins to his name.  Kyle Busch is the winningest current driver with 6 wins, and his next closest competitor, Kevin Harvick, has only 3.

 

Notable drivers who have not won at Richmond:

Chase Elliott

(has won at 9 other tracks)

Ryan Blaney

(has won at 4 other tracks)

 

No current driver has Richmond listed as either their BEST track, however both Ryan Blaney and Chris Buescher list it as their WORST.

 

No current drivers have ever scored their first Cup Series win at Martinsville – will that change this weekend?

 

Based on their point pace, let’s have a look at who’s having a better year than last year.

 

Drivers Faring Better than in 2020

Denny Hamlin

+402 pts

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

+318 pts

William Byron

+309 pts

Daniel Suarez

+292 pts

Michael McDowell

+254 pts

 

Drivers Faring Worse than in 2020

Aric Almirola

-553 pts

Kevin Harvick

-293 pts

Erik Jones

-287 pts

Matt DiBenedetto

-272 pts

Alex Bowman

-222 pts

 

While some drivers may be doing better this year than they did in 2020, how does this year stack up against their entire career?  This statistic does not include rookies, as this is their first full year in the Cup Series.

 

Drivers Having their BEST Career Year

Denny Hamlin

4.50

Joey Logano

9.00

Kyle Larson

11.00

William Byron

11.75

Ryan Blaney

13.63

Michael McDowell

14.63

 

Drivers Having their WORST Career Year

Tyler Reddick

19.88

 

 

 

In 2017, NASCAR introduced the concept of Stage Racing, which pauses the race at certain intervals and awards bonus points for the top 10 at that moment.  Here are the Top-5 Stage Point earners so far this year:

 

Stage Point Leaders:

Denny Hamlin

119 pts

Chase Elliott

61 pts

Brad Keselowski

60 pts

Ryan Blaney

59 pts

Kyle Larson

54 pts

 

For those that aren’t aware, the Manufacturer Standings are calculated by awarding points to the highest finisher for each manufacturer according to their finishing position.  (40 for 1st, 35 for 2nd, 34 for 3rd, etc.)  No stage points or playoff points count.

 

Manufacturer Standings

Ford

288

Toyota

287

Chevrolet

285

 

Here is the same formula, but used on a team-vs-team basis:

 

Chartered Team Standings

Joe Gibbs

286

Hendrick

275

Penske

262

Stewart-Haas

221

JTG-Daugherty

216

Richard Childress

207

Chip Ganassi

196

Roush-Fenway

190

Front Row

188

Wood Brothers

133

Trackhouse

129

23XI

128

Richard Petty

126

Spire

98

Rick Ware

77

Live Fast

52

StarCom

49

 

 

 

The race begins Sunday, April 18th at 3:00 pm EST (12:00 pm PST) – Enjoy the race everyone!

 

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @StatChat_RR

 

Is there an error? Is there a stat missing that you’d like to see? Let us know!