Richmond Raceway cranks up the lights for NCS Playoffs

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In an exciting finish last weekend at Darlington Raceway to open the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, that saw Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin hold-off a hard charging Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson nearly wrecking coming to the finish line, the series now heads to Richmond Raceway for the Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders this Saturday under the lights at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Richmond Raceway has the stage set and the competition heading into this weekend couldn’t be hotter. The 2021 season marks the fourth time the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff’s second race has been held at Richmond Raceway (2018-2021). Richmond is the third different track in series history to host the second race of the Playoffs; joining Dover International Speedway (2004-2010) and New Hampshire Motor Speedway (2011–2017). Prior to 2018, Richmond Raceway was the regular season finale for the NASCAR Cup Series from 2004-2017.

A total of 13 different drivers have won the second race of the Playoffs, led by Jimmie Johnson with three wins (2005, 2009, 2010); followed by Kyle Busch (2017, 2018) and Matt Kenseth (2013, 2015) with two victories each. No non-Playoff driver has ever won the second Playoff race at Dover International Speedway (2004-2010) or New Hampshire Motor Speedway (2011-2017) or Richmond Raceway (2018-2020).

Second Race Of The Playoffs – Race Winners
TrackPlayoff Race WinnersDate
RichmondBrad KeselowskiSaturday, September 12, 2020
RichmondMartin Truex JrSaturday, September 21, 2019
RichmondKyle BuschSaturday, September 22, 2018
LoudonKyle BuschSunday, September 24, 2017
LoudonKevin HarvickSunday, September 25, 2016
LoudonMatt KensethSunday, September 27, 2015
LoudonJoey LoganoSunday, September 21, 2014
LoudonMatt KensethSunday, September 22, 2013
LoudonDenny HamlinSunday, September 23, 2012
LoudonTony StewartSunday, September 25, 2011
DoverJimmie JohnsonSunday, September 26, 2010
DoverJimmie JohnsonSunday, September 27, 2009
DoverGreg BiffleSunday, September 21, 2008
DoverCarl EdwardsSunday, September 23, 2007
DoverJeff BurtonSunday, September 24, 2006
DoverJimmie JohnsonSunday, September 25, 2005
DoverRyan NewmanSunday, September 26, 2004

When Dover International Speedway hosted the second race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, twice the winning driver went on to win the series title – Jimmie Johnson (2009 and 2010). 

When New Hampshire Motor Speedway moved to the second race in the Playoffs (2011 – 2017), only one driver won the event and went on to win the title – Tony Stewart (2011). Stewart won five races in the 2011 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs (a series-record) including the first two (Chicago and New Hampshire).

None of the Playoff winners at Richmond Raceway (2018-2020) have gone on to win the title the same season.

The worst finish by a driver in the second Playoff race that went on to win the title was: 

  • At Dover – The 2005 series champion, Tony Stewart, finished 18th.
  • At New Hampshire – The 2015 series champion, Kyle Busch, finished 37th.
  • At Richmond – The 2018 series champion, Joey Logano, finished 14th.
  • Last season’s champion, Chase Elliott, finished fifth at Richmond and went on to win the title.

Richmond Raceway’s long history with the NASCAR Cup Series

Richmond Raceway has been known by several different names and has been reconfigured several times over the years of its existence, but all the while it has been a staple on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule since 1953. This weekend’s Playoff race, the Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders (Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) is looking to add to the historic prestige that Richmond has built over the decades. 

Originally known as the Atlantic Rural Exposition Fairgrounds, Richmond Raceway held its first race in 1946 as a half-mile dirt track. The first NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond Raceway was held on April 19, 1953 and the event was won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Lee Petty in a Petty Enterprises Dodge with an average speed of 45.535 mph.

From 1953 to 1968, the NASCAR Cup Series and Richmond Raceway hosted 24 races on dirt. The track surface was changed from dirt to asphalt between races in 1968. The track name was changed to Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway in 1969 and the track was re-measured to 0.542-mile in 1970.

It wasn’t until following the February 21, 1988 NASCAR Cup Series race that Richmond Raceway was rebuilt as a three-quarters-mile D-shaped oval that we know today. 

In 1999, International Speedway Corporation (now NASCAR) purchased the raceway and surrounding property. It was the first season with both Cup races as night races and the track was renamed to Richmond International Raceway.

In 2017, the track underwent $30 million in renovations to upgrade the amenities for the fans and in the process changed the name of the track to Richmond Raceway.

In total, there have been 129 NASCAR Cup Series races at Richmond Raceway, one event from 1953 – 1958 and two races per year since 1959 to 2019. Due to the pandemic, the series only raced at Richmond once in 2020. 

The 129 NASCAR Cup Series races at Richmond Raceway have produced 55 different pole winners and 53 different race winners.

NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty (1961, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970 sweep, 1974, 1975) and Bobby Allison (1972 sweep, 1973 sweep, 1974, 1976, 1979, 1982) lead the NASCAR Cup Series in poles at Richmond with eight each. Denny Hamlin (2006, 2008 and 2016) leads all active pole winners at Richmond Raceway with three poles; followed by Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick with two each.

Of the 53 different NASCAR Cup Series drivers that have won at Richmond Raceway, 10 are active this weekend. NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty leads the NASCAR Cup Series in wins at Richmond Raceway with 13 victories (spring 1961, 1967 sweep, fall 1968, fall 1970, 1971 sweep, 1972 sweep, 1973 sweep, fall 1974 and spring 1975) – the third-most wins by a single driver at a single track in series history behind his 15 wins at Martinsville and North Wilkesboro. Joe Gibbs Racing’s driver Kyle Busch leads all active competitors in wins at Richmond with six victories. Brad Keselowski is the defending winner of this event and Alex Bowman is the most recent winner taking the checkered flag earlier this season.

Active NASCAR Cup Series Richmond Raceway Winners

Active Winners (10)WinsSeasons
Kyle Busch62018 sweep, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009
Denny Hamlin32016, 2010, 2009
Kevin Harvick32013, 2011, 2006
Brad Keselowski22020, 2014
Joey Logano22017, 2014
Kurt Busch22015, 2005
Martin Truex Jr22019 sweep
Alex Bowman12021
Kyle Larson12017
Ryan Newman12003

This weekend’s Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders will be 400 laps (300 miles in length) and will be broken up into three stages. The first stage will be 80 laps, the second stage will be 155 laps and the final stage will be 165 laps.

The starting lineups were decided by Metric Qualifying for this weekend’s Richmond event. Kyle Larson will start from the pole and last weekend’s Darlington winner Denny Hamlin will join him on the front row.  

Clinch Scenarios: Richmond Raceway

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin snapped a 31-race winless streak last weekend at Darlington Raceway taking the trophy for the first Playoff race of 2021. With the victory came the spoils and, in this instance, Hamlin is the only driver to clinch a spot in the Round of 12 with his victory. Now the series heads to Richmond this weekend for the Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders (Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) with 11 spots still up for grabs. 

Already Clinched

The following driver has clinched a spot in the 12-driver field of the next round: Denny Hamlin.

Can Clinch Via Points

If there is a repeat winner or a win by a driver who cannot advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being 56 points above the 11th winless driver in the standings. The same point requirements listed below would hold true if a new win comes from among Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch, Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Christopher Bell, Chase Elliott or Aric Almirola.

Kyle Larson: Would clinch with 18 points if Denny Hamlin or Martin Truex Jr. wins, 19 points if Kurt Busch wins, 20 points if Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano or Kevin Harvick wins, 21 points if Brad Keselowski wins, 22 points if Christopher Bell, Chase Elliott or Aric Almirola wins

Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch, Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Christopher Bell, Chase Elliott, Aric Almirola: Could only clinch with help.

If there is a new winner from Tyler Reddick or another winless driver lower in the standings but still eligible to advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being 56 points above the 10th winless driver in the standings.

Kyle Larson: Would clinch with 22 points.

Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch, Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Christopher Bell, Chase Elliott, Aric Almirola: Could only clinch with help.

Can Clinch Via Win

The following drivers would clinch on their win alone: Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch, Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Christopher Bell, Chase Elliott, Aric Almirola, Tyler Reddick, Alex Bowman, Kyle Busch, William Byron, Michael McDowell

Denny Hamlin’s Darlington win has him cruising at Richmond

With his first win of the season, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin can hit cruise control for the next two races because his win at Darlington guarantees him a spot in the next round of the Playoffs. But what doesn’t bode well for the rest of the competition this weekend is Richmond Raceway is one of Hamlin’s best tracks.

It took 31 races, but Denny Hamlin made it back to Victory Lane in the NASCAR Cup Series and did so in a timely manner. With a victory guaranteed spot in the next round of the Playoffs, Hamlin can turn his attention to accumulating Playoff points to help carry him once he get to the Round of 12. Through the first 27 races, Hamlin has amassed 21 Playoffs and currently is second in the postseason standings.

Hamlin’s 2021 season has been very consistent posting one win (Darlington-2), 14 top fives and 18 top 10s.

Looking ahead to Richmond, Hamlin has made 29 series starts at the three-quarters-mile track posting three wins, 14 top fives and 18 top 10s. His average finish is 9.0. He last won at Richmond in 2016. 

Playoff Bubble: Points are tight with two races remaining in the Round of 16

Obviously, a win this weekend at Richmond is the best-case scenario for the Playoff competitors not locked into the Round of 12, and for the four drivers currently below the cutline – Alex Bowman (-0), Kyle Busch (-2), William Byron (-9) and Michael McDowell (-20) – a good finish this weekend is a near necessity to keeping their Playoff campaign in motion.

NASCAR Cup Series Driver Playoff Outlook Following Race No. 27
RankDriverPointsRace WinsStage WinsPlayoff PtsPts From Cutoff
1Denny Hamlin2,0721621In On Wins
2Kyle Larson2,1065135380
3Martin Truex Jr.2,062352436
4Kurt Busch2,05213826
5Ryan Blaney2,048342422
6Joey Logano2,047151321
7Kevin Harvick2,04600220
8Brad Keselowski2,03812812
9Christopher Bell2,0311055
10Chase Elliott2,03023214
11Aric Almirola2,0291053
12Tyler Reddick2,0260330
13Alex Bowman2,02630150
14Kyle Busch2,0242522-2
15William Byron2,0171314-9
16Michael McDowell2,006105-20

Following Darlington Raceway, the opening event of the 2021 Playoffs, Tyler Reddick (12th) and Alex Bowman (13th) are tied in points (2,026) straddling the Round of 12 Playoff cutline heading into Richmond Raceway this weekend, the track Bowman is the most recent winner. Reddick currently holds the tie breaker between the two due to his better finish at Darlington (18th). Alex Bowman on the other hand suffered a 26th-place finish after being one of four Playoff drivers that was involved in an incident at Darlington last weekend.

Kyle Busch, William Byron and Michael McDowell are all below the Round of 12 cutline and have just two races left to earn a spot to move on. This is McDowell’s first appearance in the Playoffs. Byron was eliminated from the Round of 16 last season in his first appearance in the Playoffs and is looking to improve his postseason resume this year. But Busch has never been eliminated in the Round of 16 since the elimination-style format was instituted in the Playoffs in 2014. Though, the only multi-time champion in the postseason this year, he has been eliminated from the Round of 12 twice in his Playoff career (2014, 2020); every other Playoffs he made the Championship 4 Round (2019, ’18, ’17, ’16, ’15) – which is tied with Kevin Harvick for the most Championship 4 Round appearances at five each.

Scouting Playoff challengers heading into Race #28 of 36

The best of the best in NASCAR are putting it all on the line this season for the Bill France Performance Cup trophy and the NASCAR Cup Series championship and it’s no surprise the level of competition continues to rise throughout the Playoffs. Below is a look at the top 16 contenders and their statistical outlook heading into Richmond this weekend (ordered by points position). 

Kyle Larson (No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet) is currently ranked first in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 2,106 points. This season, he has posted five wins, 15 top fives and 19 top 10s in 27 starts. He has led 1,722 laps and has an average finish of 9.4. He also leads the series in season-to-date driver rating with a 110.9. Larson also opened his 2021 Playoffs by finishing runner-up to Denny Hamlin at Darlington.

Looking ahead to Richmond, Larson has put up one win, two top fives and five top 10s in 13 starts. His average finish on the three-quarters-mile track is 12.231, (seventh-best among active drivers). Larson also ranks in the top 10 in three key pre-race Loop Data categories at Richmond: average running position (13.210), 10th-best; driver rating (87.6), ninth-best; and laps in the top 15 (3,645 laps; 69.9%), 10th-most.

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) is currently ranked second in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 2,072 points but has guaranteed his spot in the next round with his win at Darlington last weekend. This season, he has posted one win, 14 top fives and 18 top 10s in 27 starts. He has led 967 laps and has an average finish of 8.8. He also ranks second the series in season-to-date driver rating with a 108.1. Hamlin opened the 2021 Playoffs with a victory at Darlington Raceway snapping a 31-race winless streak that dated back Talladega (Oct.) last season. With the win Hamlin also tied NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart for third-most Playoff wins all-time at 11 each.

Peering ahead to Richmond, Hamlin has posted three wins, 14 top fives, 18 top 10s and three poles in 29 starts. His average finish on the three-quarters-mile track is 9.0, (third-best among active drivers). Hamlin also ranks in the top five in three key pre-race Loop Data categories at Richmond: average running position (8.083), third-best; driver rating (107.8), third-best; and laps in the top 15 (9,819 laps; 84.5%), third-most.

Martin Truex Jr. (No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotais currently ranked third in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 2,062 points; 36 points ahead of the Playoffs Round of 12 cutline. This season, Truex has collected three wins, nine top fives and 14 top 10s in 27 starts. He has led 695 laps and has an average finish of 12.6. He also ranks fifth in the series in season-to-date driver rating with a 97.1. The 2017 NASCAR Cup Series champion, Truex, has opened the 2021 Playoffs by finishing fourth at Darlington Raceway.

Heading to Richmond this weekend, Truex has put up two wins, seven top fives and 13 top 10s in 30 starts. His average finish on the three-quarters-mile track is 16.90, (16th-best among active drivers). Truex also ranks in the top 12 in three key pre-race Loop Data categories at Richmond: average running position (13.219), 11th-best; driver rating (93.3), seventh-best; and laps in the top 15 (7,999 laps; 66.5%), sixth-most. 

Kurt Busch (No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet) is currently ranked fourth in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 2,052 points; 26 points ahead of the Playoffs Round of 12 cutline. This season, Busch has collected one win, four top fives and 10 top 10s in 27 starts. He has led 188 laps and has an average finish of 15.6. He also ranks 13th in the series in season-to-date driver rating with an 83.3. The 2004 NASCAR Cup Series champion, Kurt Busch, kicked off the 2021 Playoffs by finishing sixth at Darlington Raceway.

Looking to Richmond this weekend, Busch has put up two wins, seven top fives and 13 top 10s in 40 starts. His average finish on the three-quarters-mile track is 13.91, (10th-best among active drivers). He also ranks in the top 10 in three key pre-race Loop Data categories at Richmond: average running position (12.475), sixth-best; driver rating (93.8), fifth-best; and laps in the top 15 (8,709 laps; 67.9%), fourth-most.

Ryan Blaney (No. 12 Team Penske Ford) is currently ranked fifth in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 2,048 points; 22 points ahead of the Playoffs Round of 12 cutline. This season, Blaney has collected three wins, eight top fives and 14 top 10s in 27 starts. He has led 327 laps and has an average finish of 12.1. He also ranks eighth in the series in season-to-date driver rating with an 89.5. Blaney opened the 2021 Playoffs by finishing 22nd at Darlington Raceway.

Heading to Richmond this weekend, Blaney has posted a best finish of 11th in 10 starts. His average finish on the three-quarters-mile track is 23.5, (26th-best among active drivers). Blaney also ranks in the top 25 in three key pre-race Loop Data categories at Richmond: average running position (19.614), 19th-best; driver rating (63.3), 24th-best; and laps in the top 15 (1,263 laps; 31.5%), 19th-most.

Joey Logano (No. 22 Team Penske Ford) is currently ranked sixth in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 2,047 points; 21 points ahead of the Playoffs Round of 12 cutline. This season, Logano has posted one win, eight top fives and 14 top 10s in 27 starts. He has led 409 laps and has an average finish of 13.3. He also ranks seventh in the series in season-to-date driver rating with a 95.4. The 2018 NASCAR Cup Series champion, Logano, has opened the 2021 Playoffs by finishing eighth at Darlington Raceway. 

Looking to Richmond this weekend, Logano has amassed two wins, 11 top fives and 14 top 10s in 24 starts. His average finish on the three-quarters-mile track is 10.50, (fifth-best among active drivers). Logano also ranks in the top 10 in three key pre-race Loop Data categories at Richmond: average running position (12.427), fifth-best; driver rating (93.4), sixth-best; and laps in the top 15 (5,970 laps; 62.1%), eighth-most.

Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford) is currently ranked seventh in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 2,046 points; 20 points ahead of the Playoffs Round of 12 cutline. This season, Harvick has collected seven top fives and 17 top 10s in 27 starts. He has led 129 laps and has an average finish of 11.2. He also ranks ninth in the series in season-to-date driver rating with an 89.4. The 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion, Harvick, has opened the 2021 Playoffs by finishing fifth at Darlington Raceway.

Looking to Richmond this weekend, Harvick has posted three wins, 15 top fives and 26 top 10s in 40 starts. His average finish on the three-quarters-mile track is 8.406, (second-best among active drivers). Harvick also ranks in the top five in three key pre-race Loop Data categories at Richmond: average running position (7.204), series-best; driver rating (109.8), second-best; and laps in the top 15 (11,934 laps; 93.0%), series-most.

Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Team Penske Ford) is currently ranked eighth in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 2,038 points; 12 points ahead of the Playoffs Round of 12 cutline. This season, Keselowski has posted one win, seven top fives and 11 top 10s in 27 starts. He has led 302 laps and has an average finish of 14.3. He also ranks 10th in the series in season-to-date driver rating with an 86.5. The 2012 NASCAR Cup Series champion, Keselowski, has opened the 2021 Playoffs by finishing seventh at Darlington Raceway.

Looking to Richmond this weekend, Keselowski has posted two wins, six top fives and 12 top 10s in 23 starts. His average finish on the three-quarters-mile track is 12.304, (eighth-best among active drivers). Keselowski also ranks in the top 10 in three key pre-race Loop Data categories at Richmond: average running position (9.881), fourth-best; driver rating (100.5), fourth-best; and laps in the top 15 (7,288 laps; 79.1%), seventh-most.

Christopher Bell (No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) is currently ranked ninth in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 2,031 points; just five points ahead of the Playoffs Round of 12 cutline. This season, Bell has posted one win, four top fives and 10 top 10s in 27 starts. He has led 78 laps and has an average finish of 17.1. He also ranks 12th in the series in season-to-date driver rating with an 84.4. Bell opened the 2021 Playoffs by finishing 20th at Darlington Raceway.

Looking to Richmond this weekend, Bell has posted one top five and one top 10 in two starts. His average finish on the three-quarters-mile track is 9.5, (fourth-best among active drivers). Bell also ranks in the top 25 in three key pre-race Loop Data categories at Richmond: average running position (12.661), seventh-best; driver rating (91.1), eighth-best; and laps in the top 15 (575 laps; 71.9%), 23rd-most. 

Chase Elliott (No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet) is currently ranked 10th in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 2,030 points; just four points ahead of the Playoffs Round of 12 cutline. This season, Elliott has posted two wins, 11 top fives and 16 top 10s in 27 starts. He has led 337 laps and has an average finish of 11.8. He also ranks third in the series in season-to-date driver rating with a 99.9. The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion, Elliott, started his 2021 Playoffs with an incident and a 31st-place finish at Darlington Raceway.

Looking at Richmond this weekend, Elliott has made 11 starts at the historic track posting three top fives and four top 10s. His average finish on the three-quarters-mile track is 12.091, (sixth-best among active drivers). Elliott also ranks in the top 15 in three key pre-race Loop Data categories at Richmond: average running position (12.959), eighth-best; driver rating (85.9), 11th-best; and laps in the top 15 (2,899 laps; 65.7%), 12th-most.

Aric Almirola (No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford) is currently ranked 11th in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 2,029 points; a mere three points ahead of the Playoffs Round of 12 cutline. This season, Almirola has posted one win, two top fives and three top 10s in 27 starts. He has led 51 laps and has an average finish of 20.8. He also ranks 21st in the series in season-to-date driver rating with a 65.3. Almirola kicked off his 2021 Playoffs by finishing 16th at Darlington Raceway.

Heading to Richmond this weekend, Almirola has posted two top fives and seven top 10s in 18 starts. His average finish on the three-quarters-mile track is 15.05, (12th-best among active drivers). Almirola also ranks in the top 15 in three key pre-race Loop Data categories at Richmond: average running position (16.496), 15th-best; driver rating (78.2), 13th-best; and laps in the top 15 (3,133 laps; 43.4%), 11th-most.

Tyler Reddick (No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet) is currently ranked 12th in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 2,026 points; the last position in a transfer spot to the Playoffs Round of 12. Reddick currently holds the tie breaker with 13th place Alex Bowman due to their finishes at Darlington – Reddick finished 18th and Bowman finished 26th.

This season, Reddick has posted two top fives and 13 top 10s in 27 starts. He has led 26 laps and has an average finish of 14.7. He also ranks 14th in the series in season-to-date driver rating with an 80.1. Reddick started his Playoffs campaign with a 18th-place finish at Darlington Raceway.

Looking to Richmond this weekend, Reddick has made two starts posting a best finish of 11th in 2020. He finished 20th at Richmond earlier this season. His average finish on the three-quarters-mile track is 15.50, (13th-best among active drivers). Reddick also ranks in the top 25 in three key pre-race Loop Data categories at Richmond: average running position (15.438), 13th-best; driver rating (73.8), 16th-best; and laps in the top 15 (431 laps; 53.9%), 24th-most. 

Alex Bowman (No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet) is currently ranked 13th in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 2,026 points; the first position outside the Playoffs Round of 12 cutline. Reddick currently holds the tie breaker with Bowman due to their finishes at Darlington – Reddick finished 18th and Bowman finished 26th. 

This season, Bowman has posted three wins, six top fives and 13 top 10s in 27 starts; including winning at Richmond Raceway earlier this season. He has led 151 laps and has an average finish of 14.6 on the year. He also ranks 11th in the series in season-to-date driver rating with an 85.1. Bowman was caught in an incident and finished the opening race to the Playoffs at Darlington 26th.

Looking to Richmond this weekend, Bowman is the most recent winner at the track. In total he has made two starts posting one win, one top five and two top 10s. His average finish on the three-quarters-mile track is 21.60, (21st-best among active drivers). Bowman also ranks in the top 25 in three key pre-race Loop Data categories at Richmond: average running position (22.204), 23rd-best; driver rating (65.5), 20th-best; and laps in the top 15 (1,399 laps; 35.0%), 16th-most. 

Kyle Busch (No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) is currently ranked 14th in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 2,024 points; just two points back from the Playoffs Round of 12 cutline. This season, Kyle Busch has collected two wins, 11 top fives and 16 top 10s in 27 starts. He has led 247 laps and has an average finish of 13.0. He also ranks fourth in the series in season-to-date driver rating with a 97.5. The two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion (2015, 2019), Busch, has opened the 2021 Playoffs by finishing 35th at Darlington Raceway after being caught in an incident with Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Dillon. 

Heading to Richmond this weekend, Busch has put up a series-most six wins, 18 top fives and 24 top 10s in 31 starts. His average finish on the three-quarters-mile track is 6.806, (series-best among active drivers). Busch also ranks in the top five in three key pre-race Loop Data categories at Richmond: average running position (7.624), second-best; driver rating (110.1), series-best; and laps in the top 15 (11,079 laps; 89.1%), second-most. 

William Byron (No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet) is currently ranked 15th in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 2,017 points; nine points back from the Playoffs Round of 12 cutline. This season, Byron has posted one win, nine top fives and 16 top 10s in 27 starts. He has led 276 laps and has an average finish of 113.9. He also ranks 12th in the series in season-to-date driver rating with an 84.4. Bell opened the 2021 Playoffs by finishing 20th at Darlington Raceway.

Looking to Richmond this weekend, Byron has posted one top-10 finish in six starts. His average finish on the three-quarters-mile track is 16.33, (15th-best among active drivers). Byron also ranks in the top 25 in three key pre-race Loop Data categories at Richmond: average running position (15.420), 12th-best; driver rating (77.5), 14th-best; and laps in the top 15 (1,231 laps; 51.2%), 21st-most.

Michael McDowell (No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford) is currently ranked 16th in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 2,006 points; 20 points back from the Playoffs Round of 12 cutline. This season, McDowell has posted one win (Daytona 500), two top fives and five top 10s in 27 starts. He has led 26 laps and has an average finish of 20.3. He also ranks 24th in the series in season-to-date driver rating with a 63.2. McDowell opened the 2021 Playoffs by finishing 37th at Darlington Raceway after being caught in a multi-car incident.

Looking to Richmond this weekend, McDowell has 20 starts at the short track posting a best finish of 12th in 2016. He finished 27th at Richmond earlier this season. His average finish on the three-quarters-mile track is 31.950, (39th-best among active drivers). McDowell also ranks in the top 40 in three key pre-race Loop Data categories at Richmond: average running position (31.887), 37th-best; driver rating (44.5), 35th-best; and laps in the top 15 (178 laps; 2.2%), 30th-most. 

NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.

NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2021 Induction Slated for January 21 – The NASCAR Hall of Fame and NASCAR are pleased to announce that the Class of 2021 Induction Ceremony will take place in Charlotte on Friday, January 21, 2022. The Ceremony was originally scheduled for February 5, 2021 but was postponed due to the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19.

Inductees Dale Earnhardt Jr., Red Farmer, Mike Stefanik and Landmark Award recipient Ralph Seagraves will be honored as part of a weekend full of activities and events. Tickets go on sale October 7.

“We are thrilled to celebrate these legends’ significant accomplishments and contributions to NASCAR alongside their families, friends and fans,” said Winston Kelley, Executive Director of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. “The decision to postpone was very difficult but the right thing to do. With the planned evolution from five to three inductees with the Class of 2021, NASCAR and the NASCAR Hall of Fame teams saw an opportunity to take a fresh look at our schedule of events for Induction Weekend and are excited about what we have created. It’s always a special time for each honoree and their families and friends and will be a truly memorable weekend for our fans and guests alike.” 

To celebrate the Class of 2021, the NASCAR Hall of Fame will again have three days of special events and programming – including an exclusive insiders experience, a brunch event with NASCAR Hall of Famers and behind-the-scenes looks at pieces of racing history.