Driver Handicaps: Richmond

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This weekend the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to the Richmond International Raceway for Saturday's Crown Royal Presents the Russ Friedman 400. To help you make your fantasy racing picks, RacingOne brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field for the 400-lap event.

Who's HOT at Richmond
• Kyle Busch leads all drivers with a 6.8 average finish.
• Richmond is Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s best track based on finishing average at 11.1.
• Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson join Earnhardt Jr. as the only active drivers with three wins.
• 2006 September winner, Kevin Harvick has the best average driver rating at Richmond at 118.8.
• Denny Hamlin, who led 381 laps in this event last year, has finished sixth or better in four of his six starts.
• Defending event winner Clint Bowyer has finished 12th or better in his six starts.
• Two-time winner Jeff Gordon is coming off four consecutive top 10s.

Keep an Eye on at Richmond
• Of the drivers already mentioned, David Reutimann is the only other driver to lead over 100 laps at RIR with the new car.
• Mark Martin will return in the same car that won at Phoenix two weeks ago.
• Ryan Newman has finished in the top 10 in the last five spring races at Richmond.
• Kurt Busch is driving the same car that finished third at Phoenix.

Qualifying Tidbits
Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with five poles at Richmond Int'l Raceway. Bobby Allison and Richard Petty both have eight poles at the track. Eleven RIR pole winners will be in the field for Saturday's race. Only two race winners since 1993 have come from the pole position at Richmond. Jimmie Johnson won the Sept. 2007 race from the pole and Kasey Kahne won the 2005 May race from the pole. Last May, polesitter Denny Hamlin led a race record 381 laps before a tire problem cost him a shot at the victory. Qualifying has been cancelled six times at Richmond, most recently last fall. Past Pole Winners | Starting Positions of Richmond Winners

Top 10 COT Performers at Richmond (Based Off Average Finish)
Driver
Starts
Avg. Finish
Avg. Start
Win
Top Fives
Top 10s
Laps Led
Tony Stewart
4
4.0
13.0
0
3
4
51
Jeff Gordon
4
6.2
10.2
0
2
4
311
Kevin Harvick
4
7.2
14.5
0
0
4
185
Jimmie Johnson
4
8.2
5.0
3
3
3
241
Clint Bowyer
4
8.5
20.8
1
1
2
17
Denny Hamlin
4
9.0
5.8
0
2
3
414
Kyle Busch
4
9.8
11.2
0
2
2
80
Mark Martin
4
11.5
11.8
0
2
2
2
Ryan Newman
4
14.0
15.0
0
0
2
34
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
4
15.5
13.5
0
1
1
105

All Drivers' COT Stats at Richmond

Best Average Finish at Richmond
Last # of Races
Driver
Avg. Fin.
Two Races
Tony Stewart
3.0
Four Races
Tony Stewart
4.0
Six Races
Kevin Harvick
5.5
Eight Races
Kevin Harvick
6.0
10 Races
Tony Stewart
10.4
* - The best average finish is based off a driver who has competed in every race during that time span.

Richmond Loop Data Stat Leaders (2005-2008)
*Fastest Early in a Run
*Fastest Late in a Run
Avg. Running Position
1. Denny Hamlin
1. Denny Hamlin
1. Denny Hamlin - 5.4
2. Kevin Harvick
2. Kyle Busch
2. Kevin Harvick - 5.8
3. Kyle Busch
3. Tony Stewart
3. Kyle Busch - 8.1
4. Tony Stewart
4. Matt Kenseth
4. Tony Stewart - 8.9
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
5. Kevin Harvick
5. Ryan Newman - 10.9
Laps in Top 15
*Quality Passes
*Driver Rating
1. Kevin Harvick - 3069
1. Kevin Harvick - 246
1. Tony Stewart - 118.8
2. Kyle Busch - 2737
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 202
2. Denny Hamlin - 115.3
3. Tony Stewart - 2709
2. Tony Stewart - 202
3. Jeff Gordon - 109.9
4. Ryan Newman - 2686
4. Kyle Busch - 194
4. David Ragan - 104.9
5. Denny Hamlin - 2354
5. Kurt Busch - 182
5. Brian Vickers - 97.0

*Fastest Early In a Run: Ranks each driver during the first 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
*Fastest Late In a Run: Ranks each driver during last 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
*Quality Passes: Passing a car running in the Top 15 while under a green flag.
*Driver Rating: Formula combining the following categories: Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps, Lead-Lap Finish. Maximum: 150 points per race.


For a complete look at all the loop data statistics for Richmond International Raceway Click Here to view RacingOne's Crown Royal Presents the Russ Friedman 400 pre-race eBook.

Season Loop Data Leaders
*Fastest Early in a Run
*Fastest Late in a Run
Avg. Running Position
1. Jeff Gordon
1. Mark Martin
1. Jimmie Johnson - 8.4
2. Kurt Busch
2. Carl Edwards
2. Kurt Busch - 9.5
3. Mark Martin
2. Tony Stewart
2. Jeff Gordon - 9.5
4. Jimmie Johnson
4. Denny Hamlin
4.Denny Hamlin - 10.9
5. Kyle Busch
5. Jimmie Johnson
5. Tony Stewart- 12.6
Laps in Top 15
*Quality Passes
*Driver Rating
1. Jeff Gordon - 2515
1. Jimmie Johnson - 673
1. Jeff Gordon - 108.7
2. Jimmie Johnson - 2506
2. Kurt Busch - 647
2. Jimmie Johnson - 105.5
3. Denny Hamlin - 2392
3. Juan Pablo Montoya - 626
3. Kyle Busch - 103.4
4. Kurt Busch - 2239
4. Denny Hamlin - 618
4. Kurt Busch - 103.1
5. Carl Edwards - 2173
5. Matt Kenseth - 606
5. Tony Stewart - 100.4

*Fastest Early In a Run: Ranks each driver during the first 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
*Fastest Late In a Run: Ranks each driver during last 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
*Quality Passes: Passing a car running in the Top 15 while under a green flag.
*Driver Rating: Formula combining the following categories: Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps, Lead-Lap Finish. Maximum: 150 points per race.


RacingOne Staff Picks
Jeff Wackerlin: Jimmie Johnson
Pete Pistone: Kyle Busch
Rachael West: Denny Hamlin
Kym Opalenik: Tony Stewart

Top 20 Driver Notes - Ordered by Current Standings

1. Kurt Busch: This weekend, Busch will try to redeem himself in the May race at RIR after crashing out just over halfway in this event last year. That 42nd-place finish was his worst to date at the track and came on the heels of two top-10 finishes in the previous races. Busch has won once at RIR in the 2005 fall race, which was his last appearance there for Roush Racing. Since joining Penske, Busch has posted three top 10s, including one last September. On Saturday, Busch will be driving the same car (Chassis No. 576) that finished third at Phoenix two weeks ago.

2. Jeff Gordon: In the last 17 races at Richmond International Raceway, Gordon has scored 10 top-10 finishes, including a win in the 2000 fall race - his last of two victories at RIR. His best run at the track since 2004 came in 2007 when he led a combined 305 laps en route to a pair of fourth-place finishes. In total, Gordon has finished in the top five 12 times and in the top 10 20 times, and has led 1,065 laps. This weekend marks his 33rd start on the .75-mile track. With his 7.8 starting average, Gordon has the best average among drivers who have started in seven or more races at RIR. This average is bolstered by his five pole starts.

3. Jimmie Johnson: Richmond International Raceway is Johnson's worst short track based on his finishing average of 17.5. However, Johnson has figured out the track as of late, winning three of the last four races there. He lowered his finishing average by leading a combined 241 laps in that span. The victories were three of only four top-10s at the track. Johnson's only DNF at Richmond came in the 2005 May race when his day ended with a trip to the backstretch inside retaining wall, which resulted in a 40th-place finish. This weekend, Johnson will race the same chassis (No. 520) that won at Richmond, Martinsville and Phoenix in 2008, and Martinsville this season.

4. Tony Stewart: In his first of three Sprint Cup wins at Richmond International Raceway, Stewart led a dominating 333 of the 400 race laps on September 11, 1999. His last win there came in the 2002 spring race, and since then, he has finished in the top 10 eight times, including the last four races. Stewart has also been successful in the Truck Series at RIR with two wins and a top-three finish in three starts. This weekend, Stewart will pilot a new car (chassis No. 530) when he makes his first start at RIR with Stewart-Haas Racing.

5. Denny Hamlin: Hamlin will be looking to redemem himself in the May race at Richmond International Raceway after he had to settle for a 24th-place finish last year in this event. The finish, which is his worst at the .75-mile track, was the result of a cut tire after leading 381 laps of the race's 410. Hamlin is coming off his second career third-place finish (fourth top 10) after leading four laps last summer. This weekend, Hamlin will be driving the same car (chassis No. 238) that finished second at Martinsville in March.

6. Kyle Busch: Richmond International Raceway is Busch's best track based on his finishing average of 6.8. With the exception of the past two summer events, Busch has finished in the top five in all of his starts, including three runner-up finishes. Richmond is also the site of Busch's first NASCAR win when he won the May 2004 Nationwide Series race.

7. Carl Edwards: Edwards captured his best Sprint Cup finish (sixth) at Richmond International Raceway in his first start at the track in 2004. His only other top-10 in eight starts came in the 2006 and 2008 May races when he finished seventh. This weekend, Edwards will pilot the same chassis (No. 587) that won at Pocono in August.

8. Clint Bowyer: Bowyer benefitted from Denny Hamlin's misfortune in this event last year at Richmond as he took the victory after the dominant Hamlin cut a tire late in the race. The win was his third top 10 in six starts. This weekend, Bowyer will be driving the same car (chassis No. 218) that finished fifth at Martinsville in March.

9. Jeff Burton: Burton has competed in 29 Sprint Cup races at Richmond International Raceway, capturing one win, one pole and 13 top-10 finishes. His best RIR finish (sixth) in nine races with Richard Childress came last September. This weekend, Burton will pilot the same chassis (No. 255) that finished 15th at Martinsville.

10. Greg Biffle: Biffle had a pretty good record going at Richmond, with five consecutive top-10 finishes from 2004-2006, until the COT was introduced there four races ago. Over the last four races he's scored a best finish of 14th, in both events last year, and has an average finish of 21.5. In 13 total starts at Richmond Biffle's average finish is 15.7.

11. David Reutimann: Reutimann is coming off his best finish at Richmond. He led 104 laps last fall at the track en route to a ninth-place finish. In four starts he has an average finish of 18.2. The track is sentimental for him as it's where he made his first NASCAR start in the Nationwide Series start for Joe Nemechek in 2002. This weekend Reutimann is using the same chassis (No. 628) that he drove to an eighth-place finish at Phoenix a few weeks ago.

12. Matt Kenseth: Kenseth has finished in the top 10 in half of the 18 races he's participated in at Richmond, including a win in the fall of 2002. But his last one came in this race in 2007 with a 10th-place finish. Last year, Kenseth finished 38th and 39th, respectively, at RIR. That year marked his worst year at the track since his rookie year in 2000.

13. Ryan Newman: Newman won the 2003 fall race at Richmond and posted runner-up finishes there in his first two starts. Since then, he's fared better in the spring races than the fall races, with top 10s in his last five spring races and none in the fall events. In 14 starts, his average finish is 12.3.

14. Kasey Kahne: Kahne is making his first start at Richmond with Richard Petty Motorsports. He's made 10 prior starts there and recorded a win in this event in 2005 from the pole. He has an average finish of 17.5 with five top 10s.

15. Dale Earnhardt Jr: Since winning his third Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway in the 2006 May race, Earnhardt Jr. has gone on to post a 15.8 average finish. His fourth-place finish (second RIR start with Hendrick) last September was his only top 10 in that span. In 19 starts, Junior has finished in the top-five eight times and the top-10 ten times. This weekend, Earnhardt will be driving a new car (chassis No. 541) in the Crown Royal Presents the Russ Friedman 400.

16. Juan Pablo Montoya: Montoya's best finish so far at Richmond in four Cup starts was 26th in his track debut in this event in 2007. He qualified sixth for this race last year but failed to capitalize on it and finished 32nd. The team is bringing chassis No. 817 to the track, which Montoya raced to a 12th-place finish at Martinsville this season.

17. Brian Vickers: Vickers is making his 10th Cup start at Richmond this weekend. He has only one top-10 finish and an average of 29.2. His only top 10 at the track came in his track debut in the spring of 2004. Vickers finished eighth after starting on the pole while driving for Hendrick Motorsports.

18. Mark Martin: Richmond is one track on the schedule where Martin chose to run full-time while participating in two part-time Cup seasons the last two years. Last year, he scored two top-five finishes at the short track. The NASCAR veteran started from the outside pole and finished third last May. In 46 starts there he has one win, 25 top 10s and an average finish of 12.1. Martin is making his second start in the team's Chassis No. 5-538, which made its debut with a win at Phoenix a few weeks ago.

19. Marcos Ambrose: Ambrose is riding the wave of his best oval finish of fourth-place at Talladega to Richmond this weekend where he'll be making his Cup debut. The team is bringing a new car to the track (chassis No. 622) for the race. Ambrose has raced in four Nationwide Series races at the track with a best finish of 13th there last fall.

20. Kevin Harvick: Harvick has the highest average finish of all drivers in the last eight races at Richmond (6.0) due to the fact that he's posted eight consecutive top-10 finishes at the track, including one victory in the fall of 2006. He has led the most laps over the last eight races of any driver (679) and his driver rating of 118.8 also leads the field. Harvick will be behind the wheel of chassis No. 212 for Saturday's race. It's the same car his teammate Bowyer won with at New Hampshire in 2007 and Richmond last year.

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