April 30, 2003 | 12:13 A.M. EST
Dale Earnhardt Jr.- Junior won here in his rookie season and has missed the top 10 at Richmond just once in the last four Cup races run here. Won last fall’s Busch race at Richmond one of three Busch series victories Junior has scored here.
Jeff Gordon- Gordon has two career wins at Richmond. (1996 and 2000) While Gordon was once a prohibitive favorite at Richmond, oddly enough he has top 10 finishes in only four of the last ten Cup races here. Blew an engine here last fall and finished 40th.
Jimmie Johnson- Johnson won the pole position for last fall’s Richmond race but finished thirteenth in that weekend’s race. Still that was a lot better than his 31st place result in this race last year.
Kurt Busch- Maybe the 97 team can carry associate sponsorship from Hoover this weekend because to date Busch has sucked at Richmond at least in a Cup car. Still looking for a top 10 finish here. Is he getting too old to race competitively?
Kevin Harvick- Harvick finished second here in the fall race of 2001 and in last fall’s truck series race. That second place was his only top 10 finish in four career Cup starts at Richmond.
Tony Stewart- Stewart is the odds on favorite this week. In eight career starts at Richmond Stewart has won three times (including this race for the last two years) and has missed the top ten only twice. (Including last fall’s race here.) They didn’t seal the track over the winner so Stewart will have to work harder to find something to complain about if he wins this weekend.
Michael Waltrip- Waltrip’s best finish in the last 10 Cup races at Richmond was 20th. Not expected to be a contender for the win. But we’re still going to end up listening to him to the point we’ll envy the deaf this weekend.
Ricky Craven- Craven scored his first career top 10 finish at Richmond in this race last year. (Ninth.) His results prior to that were of Michael Waltrip quality.
Elliott Sadler- Sadler’s best career finish at Richmond is seventeenth. So with apology to Madonna fans, he’s like a Virginian, trying to score a top ten for the very first time.
Bobby Labonte- Labonte scored his career best second place finish here in the fall race of 1999. Last year he finished 32nd in the both races.
Sterling Marlin- Marlin’s title hopes last year were derailed in a savage wreck here last fall. Marlin has just two top ten finishes in the last ten Cup races run at Richmond with a career best finish of fourth scored in the fall of 1999.
Dale Jarrett- Jarrett is a two time Richmond winner. (1997 and 1999) DJ has top 5 finishes in five of the last 10 Richmond Cup races.
Robby Gordon- Captain Crunch averaged a 32nd place finish here last year.
Mark Martin- Martin has a single career Richmond race win scored way back in 1990 when his teammate Kurt Busch was 11 years old. Martin has finished in the top 10 ten times in 34 career Cup starts at Richmond.
Rusty Wallace- Wallace leads all active drivers with six career Richmond victories and leads all drivers in money won racing here. Wallace’s last victory here was back in 1997 but he’s scored top 5 finish in more than half of career starts here. (20 top 5s in 38 races he’s run here to date.) One more last chance?
Joe Nemechek- Nemechek has a pair of sixth place finishes here but to say he’s struggled here during his Cup career is being kind. You’ve got a better chance of seeing a natural blonde on VH1 Country than Joe Nemechek in Winner’s Circle this weekend.
Jeff Burton- Burton prevailed over Jeff Gordon in a thrilling battle to the checkers here back in 1998. Burton has top 10 finishes in four of the last six Cup races including a third place result in this race last year.
Ricky Rudd- Rudd finished seventh here last fall and promptly got punched right in the yap by a guy on his own team. Rudd has won here twice (1984 and 2001) and ranks second on the all time earnings list at Richmond. He's managed top 10 finishes in five of the last six Cup races run at Richmond.
Ryan Newman- Newman finished second in both of last year’s Richmond races. And here’s the weird part; he didn’t win the pole for either of them.