Idriver Handicaps:/I Richmond
September 8, 2005 | 9:45 A.M. EST
Who's HOT as of late
Who Else to Watch
1. Tony Stewart
Avg. Start: 13.8
Avg. Finish: 12.5
In his first of three Cup wins at Richmond Int'l Raceway, Stewart led a dominating 333 of the 400 race laps on September 11, 1999. His last win came in the 2002 spring race, and since then he has finished in the top-five twice, including the May event, where he led 143 laps and finished second. He has eight top-10 finishes on the .75-mile track. Stewart has also been successful in the Truck Series at RIR with two wins and a top-three finish in three starts. The only years Stewart failed to win at the track were in 2000 and 2004. He will be racing in the Truck and Busch Series on Thursday and Friday for owner Kevin Harvick.
Quotable: "I like night racing anyway. I always have. The good thing about night races is that I get to sleep in through the morning. But the challenge is the same for everybody as far as how the surface temperature of the race track will cool off."
2. Greg Biffle
Avg. Start: 13.5
Avg. Finish: 17.5
Biffle scored his best ever finish at Richmond Int'l Raceway last May with a sixth-place finish. However, he does have one win in the Truck Series at the .75-mile oval and a trio of top 10s in the Busch Series. He will be taking a new Chassis (RK-229) to the track this weekend.
Quotable: "If you talk to a lot of the drivers, I think most of them will tell you that Richmond is one of their favorite tracks. It's just a driver's track."
3. Jimmie Johnson
Avg. Start: 14.1
Avg. Finish: 21.7
Johnson's last trip to Richmond Int'l Raceway ended with a trip to the backstretch inside retaining wall, resulting in a 40th-place finish - first DNF at the track. In May of 2004, Johnson led 91 laps and finished second, scoring his only top 10 in seven starts. His career stats at Richmond include one pole and 124 laps led.
4. Rusty Wallace
Avg. Start: 8.9
Avg. Finish: 9.4
Wallace has won six times and collected $1,950,445 in earnings in 43 races at Richmond Int'l Raceway. He has led almost four times as many laps (3,023) as other active drivers. Overall, Wallace has posted three poles, 21 top-five and 29 top-10 finishes. Wallace is the most recent driver to complete a season sweep at Richmond, turning the trick in 1989. He will race the same car (chassis PRS-070) that won the spring event at Martinsville last year.
Quotable: "It's our last race at Richmond, but don't expect us to get all teary-eyed about it. "We're coming in there with both barrels loaded and focused on getting us another Richmond win before hunkering down and getting ready to get after it in this year's Chase."
5. Mark Martin
Avg. Start: 10.5
Avg. Finish: 12.3
Martin has raced in 41 races at Richmond Int'l Raceway capturing one win (1990), 22 top-10 and 12 top-five finishes. Martin has finished seventh or better in five of the last seven races at RIR. He scored his first career pole on September 13, 1981, at Richmond and his 41st on May 5, 2001. Martin has five Busch wins at RIR. He will be racing the 'reverse' white paint scheme this weekend and running the same chassis (RK-221) that he won the All-Star race with in May.
Quotable: "We've been pretty good there and we've had a lot of big races there. It always makes for an exciting race and we are looking forward to going there and just seeing what we can do."
6. Kurt Busch
Avg. Start: 22.9
Avg. Finish: 20.3
Busch's best finish (eighth) at Richmond Int'l Raceway came in the May event in 2003. In the spring race, he finished 17th and led in his fourth race at RIR. Busch, will race the same car (chassis No. 48) that led 94 laps here one year ago. He will be racing the purple and gold of Crown Royal this weekend.
Quotable: "The side-by-side racing action provides a little bit of balance between a speedway attitude and a short track feel (at RIR)."
7. Jeremy Mayfield
Avg. Start: 23.7
Avg. Finish: 21.0
Mayfield won this event last September, climbing from his best start of seventh to capture his fourth NEXTEL Cup Series win and secure a place in the "Chase for the Cup." With the win, Mayfield became the first driver to claim a victory in the Evernham Motorsports No. 19 entry. After 23 starts, he has finished in the top-five three times and in the top-10 six times on the .75-mile track. In the two races last year, he led his only laps there for a total of 174. In May, he started 15th and finished 13th. Mayfield will be racing a brand new chassis (No. 120) this weekend. This car was tested at RIR last Monday and Tuesday.
Quotable: "It should be a good race for the fans, I don't know if it's going to be good, bad or different for the teams, though. I'm not going to predict anything crazy going into it, as far as people wrecking each other or anything like that."
8. Carl Edwards
Avg. Start: 12.0
Avg. Finish: 13.5
Edwards captured his best finish (sixth) in this event in his first start at Richmond Int'l Raceway. In May, he posted his best start (11th) and went on to finish 21st. If he were to finish in 19th place or higher, he will clinch a spot in the "Chase" no matter what anybody else accomplishes. He will be in the same car (chassis RK-264) that raced in the first Loudon race of the year. The No. 99 will carry green and white Scotts colors this weekend.
Quotable: "Our primary goal this week is to make the 'Chase'. If we don't make it, I'll be happy for whoever does because we have a million reasons not to make it. But we really want to make it and I think we can."
9. Matt Kenseth
Avg. Start: 23.0
Avg. Finish: 14.2
Kenseth has competed in 11 races at Richmond Int'l Raceway scoring one victory after leading 134 laps in the 2002 September event. With that win, Kenseth became the third person to visit Victory Lane at RIR after starting 25th or worse. Over a five-race span from 2002 to this event last year, Kenseth has captured finishes of seventh or better. He will race a car (chassis RK-23) that ran at Phoenix and Loudon this season.
Quotable: "We've had a good run over the last several months and have put ourselves in contention for this thing. We have to have no mistakes this weekend – not by the driver and not on pit road. It's going to be exciting, I know that."
10. Jamie McMurray
Avg. Start: 28.2
Avg. Finish: 19.6
McMurray scored his only two top-10 finishes, in five starts, in the last two races at Richmond Int'l Raceway. His best finish is a ninth, which came in this event last year after breaking a valve spring in the closing laps, cutting short his chance to make the run for the championship by only 15 points. McMurray, who leads Ryan Newman by one point for the last and final transfer spot for the "Chase for the Championship" will race chassis No. 307 for the second time this season. This car finished 21st at Lowe's Motor Speedway and was tested at RIR last week.
Quotable: "Tenth position is ours to lose, so we're going to give it everything we have and we're not going to count on anything until the checkered flag flies."
11. Ryan Newman
Avg. Start: 3.9
Avg. Finish: 10.9
Newman holds the best average starting position (3.9) among active drivers at Richmond Int'l Raceway. Last September, he captured his first pole at RIR, and has now started in the top five in the last six races after starting second in May. His third-place finish this year was his fifth top 10. Newman led 125 of his 354 laps at Richmond when he won the 2003 September race. Last year, he finished 20th in the September race, which was one of two finishes of 20th or worse in seven starts. In the other three races, Newman finished ninth or better, including two runner-up's in his first two starts. The Alltel team will bring the same car (chassis PRS-91) that raced at RIR in May. The car was also tested last week at the .75-mile track.
12. Jeff Gordon
Avg. Start: 7.4
Avg. Finish: 14.3
In the last ten races at Richmond Int'l Raceway, Gordon had finished in the top-10 six times, including a win in this event in 2000 - his last of two victories at RIR. In his most recent trip to Richmond, Gordon finished 39th after getting caught up in an accident between Rusty Wallace and Bobby Labonte. In total, Gordon has finished in the top five 10 times and in the top 10 16 times, and has led 783 laps. This weekend marks his 25th start on the .75-mile track. With his 7.1 starting average, Gordon has the best average among drivers who have started in 10 or more races at RIR. This average is bolstered by his four pole-starts. He will be driving a new chassis that was tested at RIR with good results. Gordon, who is 30 points out of the last and final spot for the "Chase for the NEXTEL Cup," was ranked second in the points when the series visited RIR in May.
13. Elliott Sadler
Avg. Start: 26.5
Avg. Finish: 25.2
Sadler finished 12th or worse in his first 12 starts at Richmond Int'l Raceway. In May he scored his first top-10 finish (seventh) after starting a career-best fifth. Sadler is currently 52 points outside of the top-10 in the standings. He was ranked fifth when the series was in Richmond in May.
14. Dale Jarrett
Avg. Start: 20.5
Avg. Finish: 16.9
In 34 starts at Richmond Int'l Raceway, Jarrett has captured two wins (1997 and 1999), 11 top fives and 12 top 10s. His last top 10 came in this event in 2001.
15. Kevin Harvick
Avg. Start: 24.9
Avg. Finish: 15.7
In nine starts at Richmond Int'l Raceway, Harvick has finished in the top five twice, most recently in May. He has led 48 laps on the .75-mile track. Harvick broke of streak of qualifying 19 or worse in May after he started seventh. The GM Goodwrench team is bringing chassis No. 120, which Harvick drove to victory this year at Bristol and to his best finish at RIR. The No. 29 will sport a special paint scheme with Country music star Gretchen Wilson.
16. Joe Nemechek
Avg. Start: 19.3
Avg. Finish: 23.4
Nemechek won this event in 2003 after leading 156 laps from the second starting position. The win was his second top-10 finish in 22 races. In May he started 25th and finished 18th.
17. Brian Vickers
Avg. Start: 18.7
Avg. Finish: 25.7
Vickers scored his first NEXTEL Cup pole at Richmond in this May race last year. His qualifying lap of 129.983 mph (20.772 sec.) still stands as the track record. After winning the pole, Vickers went on to capture his first top-10 in the Cup Series, and best at RIR, with an eighth-place finish. In the last two Richmond races Vickers finished 37th and 32nd, respectively. This weekend, Vickers will race the same car (chassis No. 295) he finished fifth with at Phoenix in April. Musical Artists Green Day will be on the No. 25 in the Rock & Roll 400.
18. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Avg. Start: 13.8
Avg. Finish: 9.2
Earnhardt Jr. won the May event last year after leading 115 laps from the fourth starting position. The win marked Jr's second victory at the Richmond Int'l Raceway. After 12 starts, he has finished in the top-five six times and the top-10 four times. Last year he scored more points (924) on short-tracks than any other driver and backed-up his RIR win with a second-place finish in the September race.
19. Michael Waltrip
Avg. Start: 23.0
Avg. Finish: 24.2
In May, Michael Waltrip captured his best finish of ninth, in 39 career start at Richmond Int'l Raceway. It was his second top 10 after finishing 10th in May of 2003. Waltrip, who tested at RIR last week, leads all active drivers with 11 DNFs at RIR. He will be in the same chassis (No. 21) that finished 30th at Martinsville.
20. Kasey Kahne
Avg. Start: 17.0
Avg. Finish: 17.7
Kahne captured his first NEXTEL Cup Series win at Richmond Int'l Raceway in May after leading 242 laps from the pole. He finished 28th and 24th, respectively, in his two starts at the track last season.
21. Jeff Burton
Avg. Start: 13.4
Avg. Finish: 14.4
Burton has competed in 21 races at Richmond Int'l Raceway, capturing one win, one pole and 11 top-10 finishes. He started fifth, led eight laps, and finished 23rd in this race one year ago driving the RCR No. 30. He will race chassis No. 129 for the fifth time in 2005. This car, which will have the country music group Big & Rich along for the ride, placed a best 14th at New Hampshire after starting 25th.
22. Kyle Busch
Avg. Start: 10.0
Avg. Finish: 4.0
Busch started 10th and finished fourth in his first NEXTEL Cup start at Richmond Int'l Raceway in May. He will race the same chassis (No. 323) that has finished in the top 10 at Phoenix, Richmond and New Hampshire. The car will carry the Delphi colors for the third time in 2005. Busch won his first NASCAR race at Richmond in the Busch Series race. He will pull "triple duty" this weekend, also entering the Truck race in Billy Ballew's No. 15 and the Busch race in the No. 5 entry.
24. Bobby Labonte
Avg. Start: 14.8
Avg. Finish: 16.7
Labonte has yet to win a race at Richmond Int'l Raceway in 25 starts. He has finished in the top eight in four of his last five starts, and has posted a total of four top fives and nine top 10s. In the may race, he finished eighth after starting 39th. In his second race at the track in 1993, Labonte started on the pole for the only time at RIR. This was his first career Bud Pole in the Cup Series. The No. 18 will debut a new chassis in Richmond.
RacingOne Staff Picks:
Pete Pistone: Matt Kenseth
Rick Benjamin: Kurt Busch
Ron Lemasters: Tony Stewart
Jeff Wackerlin: Ryan Newman
Jeff (Greg Biffle-California, Kevin Harvick-Bristol, Jeff Gordon-Martinsville, Tony Stewart-Daytona)
Rick (Jeff Gordon-Talladega, Greg Biffle-Michigan)
Ron (Tony Stewart-Infineon, Tony Stewart-Indianapolis, Tony Stewart-Watkins Glen)
Chevy Rock & Roll 400
Richmond Int'l Raceway
TV: TNT, 7:00 p.m. (ET).
Radio: MRN/XM Satellite.
Race length: 400 Laps, 300 miles.
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