Driver Handicaps: Richmond

    This weekend the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series heads to Richmond Int'l Raceway for the Chevy Rock & Roll 400. To help you make your Dale Jr. Reality Cup Racing fantasy picks, RacingOne brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field for the 400-lap event.

    Who's HOT at Richmond Int'l Raceway
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. has three victories and an average finish of 9.4 in 14 starts.
  • Kyle Busch has finished in the top five in his three starts.
  • Mark Martin has the best average finish (9.8) over the last 10 races and has finished on the lead lap in nine consecutive races.
  • Kevin Harvick has led 439 laps in the last two events.
  • Three-time winner Tony Stewart has finished seventh or better in the last three races.
  • Greg Biffle has finished in the top 10 in his last four starts.

    Keep an Eye on at Richmond Int'l Raceway
  • Kasey Kahne will be looking for his sixth win of the season as he has to race his way into the Chase.
  • Kurt Busch captured his first win in 11 starts in this event last year.
  • Jeff Gordon leads all active full-time drivers with 17 races led and four poles.
  • Jeff Burton leads all active drivers with 874 laps led.
  • Ryan Newman leads all drivers with a 5.4 starting average and has six top 10s.
  • Rookie Denny Hamlin finished second in his first Cup start at RIR.

    May Richmond Recap
    Dale Earnhardt Jr. broke a 27-race winless streak with a trip to victory lane in the Crown Royal 400. Rookie Denny Hamlin thrilled his hometown crowd with a runner-up finish. Kevin Harvick, Greg Biffle and Kyle Busch rounded out the top five. Harvick, who won the Busch race the night prior, had the dominant car, but a decision to not pit for tires under caution with 119 laps to go came back to cost the GM Goodwrench driver a possible sweep of the weekend. Complete Results

    Track Performers
    Jeff Gordon leads all active full-time drivers with 15 wins on tracks of .75-miles or less. Kurt Busch and Mark Martin are tied for second with seven wins each followed by Tony Stewart with six. Dale Jarrett (4) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (4) round out the top five. Martin leads active full-time time drivers with 75 top 10s and 15 poles. Gordon, who is right behind with 14 poles, has led the most laps with 5,538, which is almost twice as much as Stewart's second place total of 2,774.

    Richmond Int'l Raceway Rookie Report
    With the exception of David Stremme, all of the Rookie of the Year candidates made their first NEXTEL Cup start at Richmond Int'l Raceway in May. Denny Hamlin, who is the only rookie to have led laps (19) at RIR in Cup competition, scored the best finish among the group with a second. Clint Bowyer was the only other rookie to notch a top 10, finishing 10th. Stremme scored his best Cup finish (33rd) at RIR in his second start in May. Stremme leads all rookies with the most Busch Series starts at Richmond with six. J.J. Yeley, who finished 22nd in the May Cup race, is the only rookie that has yet to capture a top 10 in the Busch Series at RIR. Bowyer has led the most NBS laps at RIR with 66. Rookie Standings

    Qualifying Tidbits
    There has been a different Bud Pole winner in the last 13 races at Richmond Int'l Raceway. Brian Vickers set the current qualifying record (129.983 mph) in the May event in 2004. All three manufacturers have won a pole in the last three races at RIR with Kasey Kahne (Dodge) and Kevin Harvick (Chevrolet) taking the top spot, respectively, in 2005 and Greg Biffle (Ford) this season. Kahne's win in the 2005 May race marked the first time a driver has won from the pole since 1992. Past Pole Winners | Starting Positions of Richmond Winners

    Richmond Int'l Raceway Loop Data Stat Leaders (2005-2006 season)
  • Kevin Harvick is the fastest driver early in a run during the first 25 percent of a green flag run since a pit stop at 122.635 mph (Must have completed 75% of scheduled laps). Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle, Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart round out the top five.
  • Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin, respectively, hold average running positions of 3.9 and 5.0. Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch are the only other drivers to hold an average place of less than 10.0.
  • Tony Stewart is the fastest driver late in a run since a pit stop at 119.616 mph (Fastest speed during last 25 percent of standard green flag run. Must have completed 75% of scheduled laps). Kasey Kahne (119.609), Kurt Busch (119.606), Greg Biffle (119.557) and Kyle Busch (119.528) round out the top five.
  • Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton, respectively, have completed 24 and 63 quality passes (Passing a car running in the Top 15 while under a green flag).
  • Kevin Harvick has the best average Driver Rating at 125.5.

    Dale Jr. Reality Cup Tiebreakers

    Last Five Number of Lead Changes

    Last Five Number of Cautions Laps

    RacingOne Staff Picks
    Jeff Wackerlin: Kevin Harvick
    Pete Pistone: Tony Stewart
    Jorge Mondaca: Jeff Burton
    J.J. O'Malley: Jeff Burton
    Shawn Akers: Denny Hamlin

    Fan Vote (based on votes from RacingOne community members): Dale Earnhardt Jr.

    More Driver Notes (In Order of Points Standings)

    1. Matt Kenseth (Points: 3638): Kenseth has competed in 13 races at Richmond Int'l Raceway scoring one victory after leading 134 laps in this event in 2002. With that win, Kenseth became the third person to visit victory lane at RIR after starting 25th or worse. Over the last nine races at RIR, Kenseth has captured six finishes of seventh or better. In May, Kenseth finished 38th - his worst finish at RIR - after a brake rotor broke and punctured the oil pan. This weekend he will drive the same car that finished second in this event last year.

    2. Jimmie Johnson (Points Behind: -9): This weekend Johnson will return in the same car (chassis No. 48354) he scored a 12th-place finish with at Richmond Int'l Raceway in May. Last year in the May event, Johnson's day ended with a trip to the backstretch inside retaining wall, resulting in a 40th-place finish - his first DNF at RIR. In May of 2004, Johnson led 91 laps and finished second, scoring his only top 10 in nine starts. His career stats at Richmond include one pole and 124 laps led.

    3. Kevin Harvick (Points Behind: -342): In 11 starts at Richmond Int'l Raceway, Harvick has finished in the top five three times. In the last three races at RIR, Harvick has combined to lead 440 laps en route to three consecutive top-10 starts and finishes. Harvick will be back in the same car (chassis No. 167) that won at Phoenix and finished third at Richmond. The car will carry a special Barenaked Ladies paint scheme for the Rock & Roll 400.

    4. Jeff Gordon (Points Behind: -387): In the last 13 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 two of the last three races Gordon has posted a DNF, most recently in May when an ignition problem relegated him to a 40th-place finish. In total, Gordon has finished in the top five 10 times and in the top 10 16 times, and has led 754 laps. This weekend marks his 28th start on the .75-mile track. With his 7.6 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.

    5. Kyle Busch (Points Behind: -394): Busch has finished in the top five in his three NEXTEL Cup starts at Richmond Int'l Raceway. He led 10 laps in this event race last season. Richmond is the site of Busch's first NASCAR win when he won the 2004 May Busch Series race.

    6. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Points Behind: -412): Earnhardt Jr. won the May event after leading 47 laps from the 10th starting position. The win marked Jr's third victory at Richmond Int'l Raceway. After 14 starts, he has finished in the top five seven times and the top 10 nine times. In 2004, Junior scored more points (924) on short-tracks than any other driver and backed-up his last RIR win with a second-place finish in the September race.

    8. Tony Stewart (Points Behind: -444): 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 2005 May event, where he led 143 laps and finished second. In the last two races, Stewart collected his ninth and 10th top 10s at RIR. 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, 2004 and 2005.

    9. Mark Martin (Points Behind: -457): 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 15th or better in 11 of the last 12 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 same chassis (RK-221) that finished 11th at RIR in May and won the All-Star race last season.

    10. Jeff Burton (Points Behind: -459): Burton has competed in 24 races at Richmond Int'l Raceway, capturing one win, one pole and 11 top-10 finishes. His best RIR finish (15th) in four races with Richard Childress came in the May race. Burton has also made 19 starts in the Busch Series at RIR, capturing two poles, two wins and 11 top-10 finishes.

    11. Kasey Kahne (Points Behind: -489): Kahne captured his first NEXTEL Cup Series win at Richmond Int'l Raceway in the 2005 May race after leading 242 laps from the pole. He went on to score his only other top-10 finish (eighth) that season in the fall after starting 14th. This weekend, Kahne will drive the same car (chassis No. 113) that finished 34th in May - his worst finish at RIR in five starts. The car will carry a special paint scheme in the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 that was designed by Brandon Reinders of Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

    12. Carl Edwards (Points Behind: -685): Edwards captured his best finish (sixth) in the 2004 fall event and first start at Richmond Int'l Raceway. In May he recorded his best start (ninth) before scoring his second top 10 with a seventh-place finish. Edwards will be driving the same car (chassis RK-264) that he raced at RIR in May.

    13. Greg Biffle (Points Behind: -749): Biffle has finished eighth or better in the last four races at Richmond Int'l Raceway. Last September he scored his best finish of third in eight starts. Biffle also has one win and three finishes of third or better in the Truck Series at RIR. He will be racing the same car (chassis: RK-229) that started from the pole and led 54 laps en route to a fourth-place finish at Richmond in May. This also is the same car that led 151 laps last month at Phoenix before running out of gas.

    14. Kurt Busch (Points Behind: -892): Busch posted his first win, and first top five at Richmond Int'l Raceway in this event last year after leading 185 laps. Busch's only other top 10 came in the May 2003 event when he finished eighth. Busch finished 29th in May in his first start at the track with Penske Racing. He will race a new car (chassis No. PRS-083) that was tested at Lakeland, Florida in January.

    15. Casey Mears (Points Behind: -953): Mears has yet to post a top-15 finish in seven career starts at Richmond Int'l Raceway. He will race the same car (chassis No. 616) that finished 21st at New Hampshire in July after he locked up the brakes to avoid an incident with two laps remaining in the race.

    16. Ryan Newman (Points Behind: -988): Newman holds the best starting average among active drivers at Richmond Int'l Raceway at 5.4. In September 2004, he captured his first pole at RIR, and has started in the top 10 in the last seven of the last eight races. Newman's eighth-place finish in May was his sixth top 10. Newman led 125 of his 354 laps at Richmond when he won the 2003 September race.

    17. Jamie McMurray (Points Behind: -1004): McMurray finished 19th in his first race with Roush Racing at Richmond Int'l Raceway in May. His previous six starts came with Chip Ganassi Racing. His best finish (ninth) - and second top 10 - came in this event in 2004 after breaking a valve spring in the closing laps. With that finish, it also cut short McMurray's chance to make a run for the championship by only 15 points. McMurray will return in the same car (chassis No. RK-175) that raced in the May Richmond race.

    21. Elliott Sadler (Points Behind: -1114): Sadler finished 12th or worse in his first 12 starts at Richmond Int'l Raceway. In the 2005 May race, Sadler scored his first top-10 finish (seventh) after starting a career-best fifth. This weekend will mark Sadler's fourth start with the Evernham Motorsports' No. 19 team.

    24. Dale Jarrett (Points Behind: -1266): In 37 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 the fall event in 2001.

    25. Bobby Labonte (Points Behind: -1297): Labonte has yet to win a race at Richmond Int'l Raceway in 27 starts. He has finished in the top eight in four of his last seven starts, and has posted a total of four top fives and 10 top 10s. Labonte's last top 10 came in the 2005 May race when 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, which was his first career Bud Pole in the Cup Series. Labonte finished 24th in his first track start with Petty Enterprises in May.

    31. Joe Nemechek (Points Behind: -1521): Nemechek won the 2003 May race after leading 156 laps from the second starting position. The win was his third top-10 finish in 25 races. In this event last year he started 21st and finished 26th.

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