NASCAR at Richmond International Raceway

2016 April 22 317759

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400
Richmond International Raceway Distance: 300 miles (400 laps)
Sunday, April 24 1 p.m. ET TV: FOX, 1 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

NASCAR XFINITY Series ToyotaCare 250
Richmond International Raceway
Distance: Two Heat Races – 26.25 miles (35 laps) | Main – 105 miles (140 laps)
Saturday, April 23 12:30 p.m. ET TV: FS1, 12 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Toyota Tundra 250
Kansas Speedway Distance: 250.5 miles (167 laps)
Friday, May 6 8:30 p.m. ET TV: FS1, 8 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM Ch. 90

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES

2016 April 24 317757

Statement from Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer, on Tony Stewart’s Return

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 21, 2016) – “NASCAR received the appropriate medical clearance documentation allowing Tony Stewart to resume normal racing activities. We also have granted the request from Stewart-Haas Racing for a waiver for Tony to be eligible to qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. As he begins his final season, we wish Tony the best of luck.”

Crazy 8s: 8 Different Winners In Past 8 Richmond Races
Parity has been the pattern recently at Richmond International Raceway. Eight different drivers have won the last eight races at the Northern Virginia short track – the second-longest streak at an active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series course (Darlington boasts a streak of 10).

The last eight winners are Matt Kenseth, 2015-2; Kurt Busch, 2015-1; Brad Keselowski, 2014-2; Joey Logano, 2014-1; Carl Edwards, 2013-2; Kevin Harvick, 2013-1; Clint Bowyer, 2012-2; Kyle Busch, 2012-1.

NASCAR fans will get to witness if there’s a ninth different Richmond winner in Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400. Notable drivers who have not won at Richmond in the last eight races, but have visited Victory Lane there include: Jimmie Johnson (3 wins), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (3), Denny Hamlin (2), Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman.

Baby Got Backflip: Edwards Notches First Win Of Season
Carl Edwards did his signature backflip in Victory Lane once again, after leading a race- and career-high 276 laps on the way to the checkered flag in the Food City 500 for his first win of the season.

The victory was the 26th of Edwards’ NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career and his fourth at Bristol Motor Speedway. He has led the most laps in the last two races. On the season, the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota driver ranks tied with Kevin Harvick for the NSCS lead in top-10 finishes with seven. Edwards has posted strong loop data stats, including a 10.328 average running position (sixth in NSCS), 105.2 driver rating (fourth), 221 fastest laps run (221) and 475 laps led (17.9%, third).

Beat Virginia: Hamlin Eyes Another Victory In Hometown State
Denny Hamlin, of Hampton Roads, Virginia, is NASCAR’s all-time wins leader from the Cavalier State. His 27 career victories pace a group of Virginia drivers that includes NASCAR Hall of Famers Joe Weatherly (25 wins), Curtis Turner (17), Glen Wood (4) and Wendell Scott (1), as well as 2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Ricky Rudd (23).

Hamlin, who also boasts the most wins by a Virginian in his home state with seven, will try to capture his third checkered flag at Richmond International Raceway in Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400. In 19 starts at the .75-mile track, Hamlin also has seven top fives, 10 top 10s and two Coors Light Pole Awards. In addition, he boasts the second-best average running position (8.058) and third-best driver rating (108.8) among active drivers at Richmond.

Kurt Busch Hopes To Repeat ‘Monster’ Performance In Richmond Spring Race
Last April, Kurt Busch led 291-of-306 laps in the Richmond spring race on his way to a dominant victory.

The No. 41 Chevrolet driver will attempt to defend his victory on Sunday after finishing third last weekend at Bristol. In 30 Richmond starts, Busch owns two wins, six top fives and 11 top 10s.

He enters Sunday’s contest riding a two-race top-10 streak. Busch currently ranks ninth on the Chase Grid on the strength of two top-five and six top-10 finishes.

Junior Records Runner-Up With Manning In Tow
Dale Earnhardt Jr. must’ve heard fellow Nationwide endorser Peyton Manning yell “Omaha” from his pit box on Sunday afternoon at Bristol. The No. 88 Chevrolet driver lost two laps when he accidentally shut down his engine at the start of the race by pushing his brake too hard. He pulled an audible, rallying back to the lead lap and his second consecutive runner-up finish. This season, Earnhardt has three second-place, four top-five and five top-10 finishes. He sits eighth on the Chase Grid heading into Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway – a place where he has won three times, but not since spring of 2006.

Chase Elliott – Not Your Average Rookie
Chase Elliott has already joined some elite company.

The No. 24 Chevrolet driver’s five top-10 finishes this season are the most by a Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender since Jimmie Johnson accomplished the feat in 2002. Elliott leads the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings (21 points ahead of second-place Ryan Blaney) on the strength of his five top 10s and two top fives. He produced a career-best fourth-place finish on Sunday at Bristol, topping his previous-high result of fifth set at Texas one week earlier. If the season ended today, Elliott would make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup as the 12 seed. The only rookie to ever make the Chase was Denny Hamlin (2006).

DiBenedett’n Done: NASCAR Next Alum Logs Career-Best Finish For Himself, BK Racing
NASCAR Next alumnus Matt DiBenedetto was almost in tears following his sixth-place finish at Bristol – a career-high for the 24-year-old Californian as well as his BK Racing team.

“I’m sorry I’m so emotional,” DiBenedetto said. “It’s just this is like a win for us. I’m so excited. I see my family back here – my wife, Taylor, my brother is in town from the military and I’m so glad he got to experience this. This is just… this is incredible. I’m so blessed to be here.”

Prior to Bristol, the No. 83 Toyota driver’s best showing was an 18th-place finish at Talladega last spring. The previous-best result for BK Racing was an eighth-place finish by Travis Kvapil at Talladega in spring of 2012.

“Man, that’s unbelievable,” said Bristol race winner Carl Edwards after hearing about the No. 83 BK Racing team’s finish. “That’s probably tougher than what we did. That’s a real testament to them…

“I was telling somebody on top, what makes these races so special, and I think I can speak for everybody up here, is that this competition is so tough. These guys are all so good, and on TV it might look like, ‘oh, those guys are struggling or oh, that’s a lap car,’ whatever. They’re only a half a tenth off or a tenth off. It’s just unreal how hard everybody goes.”

Sunday’s race at Richmond International Raceway will be another special one for BK Racing. Team owner Ron Devine hails from Virginia’s capital. Bringing The Bayne: Knoxville Native Trevor Bayne Notches First Top Five Of 2016 Knoxville, Tennessee native, Trevor Bayne roared to a fifth-place finish at his home track (Bristol Motor Speedway) on Sunday – his first top-five performance since winning the 2011 Daytona 500. Bayne has improved his average start by almost 11 positions so far this season compared to last year (17.0 now from 27.9 in 2015). His average finish has decreased from 25.8 last season to 19.6 through the first eight races of 2016.

Bowyer Back In Business
Clint Bowyer showed he might be ready to turn his season around by finishing a season-high ninth at Bristol.The result marked Bowyer’s first top 10 of the year and only his third lead-lap finish. The No. 15 HScott Motorsports driver will attempt to continue his momentum this weekend at arguably his top track – Richmond International Raceway. In 20 starts at the Northern Virginia short track, Bowyer boasts two wins, four top fives and 12 top 10s. Among active drivers at Richmond, he ranks fourth in average finish (11.3), average running position (10.783) and driver rating (98.6).

NASCAR XFINITY Series

2016 April 23 317758

Jones Snaps Photo Win, XFINITY Chase Picture Starts To Take Shape
With the level of talent that Erik Jones puts on display when he is behind the wheel of a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, it was only matter of time before he’d get his first win of the season. Now with a victory (Bristol) in the books, Jones has all but clicked his ticket to the seven-race NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase. A win in the first 26 races all but guarantees a driver entry into the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase, provided the driver is in the top 30 in points and has attempted to qualify for each race. Drivers who win two Dash 4 Cash bonuses are also all but guaranteed a Chase berth.

The NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase kicks off at Kentucky Speedway on Sept. 24, and will feature 12 drivers and two elimination rounds, with four drivers competing in the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The first round, called the Round of 12, consists of the races at Kentucky, Dover and Charlotte. All drivers will start with their points adjusted to 2,000, with three additional bonus points added to their total for each win in the first 26 races. If a driver wins a race in the Round of 12, the driver automatically advances to the next round. The remaining available positions (1-8) that have not been filled by wins will be filled on points.

Each driver who advances to the Round of 8 (Kansas, Texas, Phoenix) then will have their points reset to 3,000. Drivers who win a race in the Round of 8 automatically advance to the Championship 4. The remaining available positions (1-4) that have not been filled by wins will be filled on points.

The four drivers who advance to the Championship 4 at Homestead will have their points reset to 4,000. The highest finishing Championship 4 driver will be crowned the NASCAR XFINITY Series champion.

Jones now focuses his attention to Richmond, looking to turn his winning ways into a trend. The Byron, Michigan native has made two starts at RIR, posting two top fives and an average finish of 4.5.

Dash 4 Cash Round 2: Richmond International Raceway
Erik Jones not only enjoyed his time in Victory Lane this past weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, he also collected the $100,000 bonus for winning the first round of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Dash 4 Cash program in 2016.

This weekend at Richmond, the NASCAR XFINITY Series Dash 4 Cash will again be comprised of two Heats and a Main event.

Qualifying for each Dash 4 Cash event will set the 40-car field and the starting positions for the two Heats with the fastest qualifier awarded the Coors Light Pole Award. Odd-numbered qualifiers (1st, 3rd, 5th, etc.) will start in the first Heat in respective order, while even-numbered qualifiers (2nd, 4th, 6th, etc.) will start the second Heat in respective order.

The two Heats will set the starting positions for the Main with the top two NASCAR XFINITY Series championship contenders in each Heat becoming eligible for the Dash 4 Cash bonus. The highest finishing driver among the four Dash 4 Cash-eligible drivers will be awarded a $100,000 bonus. If any driver wins two of the four Dash 4 Cash bonuses available, he/she is all but guaranteed a spot in
the 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase. In short, two Dash 4 Cash bonuses are equivalent to one race win in the new NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase format.

Drivers must have declared to earn NASCAR XFINITY Series points in order to be eligible for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Dash 4 Cash bonus.

Suárez Keeps The NASCAR XFINITY Series Points Lead
NASCAR Next and Drive for Diversity (operated by Rev Racing) graduate Daniel Suárez stayed in the points lead following his sixth top-10 finish of the season this past weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Suárez’s sophomore NASCAR XFINITY Series season has been stellar. In seven starts, he has posted three top fives, six top 10s and an average finish of 6.6.

Suárez made his series track debut at Richmond in 2014. He has made three starts at the .75-mile track posting one top 10 and an average finish of 12.3. Pre-race NASCAR Loop Data at RIR has him ranked sixth in driver rating (86.4) and average running position (13.369) among NXS championship contenders.
JR Motorsports Looks To Rally At Richmond Richmond is right on time.

JR Motorsports drivers Justin Allgaier and Elliott Sadler turn their attention to the .75-mile track this weekend to right the ship and rally some points in their effort to catch standings leader Daniel Suárez.

Elliott Sadler’s usual consistency stumbled this past weekend at Bristol when he finished one-lap down in 15th. The uncharacteristic finish dropped him two spots in the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship point standings – from second to fourth. Now, he is 10 points out of the standings lead.

On a good note, his JR Motorsports teammate, Justin Allgaier posted his second-best finish of the season (fifth) last weekend at Bristol and maintained his position in the standings (third).

Sadler, a Virginia native (Emporia), has made 25 starts at Richmond, posting two top fives and 10 top 10s. His average finish at RIR is 14.9.

Allgaier is third in the standings, only eight points back from the standings leader Daniel Suárez and just two points behind second-place Erik Jones. Allgaier’s season has been strong. In seven starts he has posted two top fives and six top 10s with an average finish of 7.7.

Allgaier has made 10 series starts at RIR where he owns one top five, three top 10s and an average finish of 15.5.

Richard Childress Racing Still In The Thick Of The Points Battle
We’re seven races into the season, and Richard Childress Racing drivers are in the thick of the title hunt. Three of the organization’s drivers are in the top 10 in points: Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Brandon Jones (fifth); Ty Dillon (sixth) and Brendan Gaughan (seventh).

Brandon Jones has been a breakout star so far this season. In seven starts in his rookie campaign, he has posted four top-10 finishes. Jones is currently 19 points behind the standings lead. This weekend will be Jones’ series track debut at Richmond.

Two points behind his teammate Jones, Dillon currently sits fifth in the standings, 21 points behind standings leader Daniel Suárez. Dillon has been in recover-mode in the standings since he finished 17th at Auto Club and dropped to fifth, then eventually sixth in the standings. Dillon’s seven starts this season have produced one top five and four top 10s.

Richmond could be where Dillon turns around his season. He has made six starts at the .75-mile track, posting four top 10s and an average finish of 10.5.

Last but not least is Brendan Gaughan, who is currently seventh in the standings, 34 points back from the lead. Gaughan has record three top 10s in seven starts this season.

Gaughan has had mixed results at RIR. He finished 11th in the spring at Richmond last season.

XFINITY Chase Bubble: Spots Near The Cutoff Keep Shuffling
Each week the spots near the cutoff line for the 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase shuffle. This past weekend, Richard Petty Motorsport’s driver Jeb Burton bounced back inside the Chase bubble following his solid 12th-place finish at Bristol. Burton now sits 12th on the NXS Chase Grid with a cushion of 21 points over 13th-place Ross Chastain.

11. Ryan Sieg – No. 39 RSS Racing Chevrolet – Sieg is 11th in the championship standings, two points ahead of 12th-place Jeb Burton. In seven starts this season, Sieg has posted one top 10, five top 20s and an average finish of 18.6. Sieg has made four series career starts at Richmond, posting his career-best finish (17th) at the .75-mile track last fall.

12. Jeb Burton – No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford – Burton responded nicely to his first DNF of the season at Texas two weeks ago with a 12th-place finish this past weekend at Bristol. The solid performance moved him up one spot in the points and inside the Chase bubble. Burton’s seven starts this season have yielded one top 10, five top 20s and an average finish of 18.9. Burton, who hails from Halifax, Virginia, will be making his series track debut this weekend.

13. Ross Chastain – No. 4 JD Motorsports Chevrolet – Chastain struggled in Bristol, finishing 22nd and as a result dropped three spots in the championship standings and below the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase cutoff line. In seven starts this season, he has just two top 20s and an average finish of 21.7. Richmond could be a good place for Chastain to make some headway in the points. In his two career series starts at RIR, he has finished 17th (Spring 2015) and 15th (Fall 2015).

Sunoco Rookie Update: Three Candidates Currently Inside The XFINITY Series Chase
Currently three Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidates – Erik Jones, Brandon Jones and Brennan Poole – are all inside the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase cutoff by virtue of a win or points.

With Erik Jones’ win this past weekend at Bristol, he has all but guaranteed himself a spot in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase this season. Jones has worked his way up to second in the standings behind his teammate and former series rookie of the year Daniel Suárez.

Without wins, Brandon Jones and Brennan Poole are currently inside the Chase cutoff.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Byron’s Bash: NASCAR Hall Of Fame To Host Richmond Watch Party With No. 9 Toyota Driver
The NASCAR Hall of Fame welcomes fans to watch the Toyota Owners 400 (Richmond) on April 24 at 1 p.m. in its 278-seat High Octane Theater, which features high-back seating, a 64-foot-wide, curved projection screen with surround sound and direct-from-track, in-car video feeds of two drivers.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver William Byron of Kyle Busch Motorsports will be in attendance to meet fans, answer questions and sign autographs from noon to 1 p.m. prior to the race.

Admission is free for all Toyota, Lexus and Scion owners, who present their keys at the Toyota table. They will also receive a VIP package, which includes a lanyard, $10 concession card, Toyota Owners 400 koozie and more. NASCAR Hall of Fame members will also get free admission.

General admission tickets to the party are only $10 and can be purchased HERE. Attendees can buy food, soft drinks, beer and wine at the event.

Byron had a career-best third-place finish in his last NCWTS race at Martinsville. The 2015 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champion is a member of the NASCAR Next program.

Up Next: Kansas Speedway
The high-octane NASCAR Camping World Truck Series has the next three weekends off before returning on Friday, May 6 for the Toyota Tundra 250 at Kansas Speedway (8:30 p.m. ET).

Kansas proved to be a dramatic race last season. Erik Jones, Tyler Reddick and Daniel Suárez all ran out of fuel while in the lead, and Matt Crafton saved enough in the tank to pass them for the victory.

Crafton is the only full-time NCWTS driver with a win at Kansas. Johnny Sauter (third), Timothy Peters (fourth), Cameron Hayley (fifth) and Daniel Hemric (10th) all finished in the top 10 in last season’s race.

One-Man Band: Nemechek Headlines NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Standings
John Hunter Nemechek lays sole claim to the top spot in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standings. The NASCAR Next member leads second-place Parker Kligerman by three points on the strength of one win and a runner-up in three starts this season.

Timothy Peters ranks third in the NCWTS standings (-6 points behind Nemechek) and is followed by Tyler Young (-16) and Cameron Hayley (-17). Ryan Truex (-17), Daniel Hemric (-18), Brandon Brown (-21), Spencer Gallagher (-21) and Ben Rhodes (-22) round out the top 10.

Nemechek and Johnny Sauter are the only drivers who have clinched berths in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase as full-time race winners, assuming they both remain eligible per the rule book.

Rhodes is the top Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender in the standings. NASCAR Next members William Byron (12th, -32 points behind Nemechek) and Rico Abreu (14th, -34) are the next best rookies in the standings.

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