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By the Numbers: Drivers need to break through at Richmond

September 08, 2011, ,

Richmond International Raceway is a .75-mile, D-shaped oval with 14 degrees banking in the turns. The frontstretch is 1,290 feet with 8 degrees banking; the backstretch is 860 feet with 2 degrees banking.

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4 -- Drivers who combined have won 11 of the past 13 races at Richmond: Kevin Harvick (4); Carl Edwards (3); Kyle Busch (2); Denny Hamlin (2). The only exceptions during that span were Clint Bowyer (2007) and Brad Keselowski (2010).

Side note: The past 14 races have been won by Cup regulars; the last time a Nationwide-only regular won at Richmond was in May 2004: Kyle Busch was in his first full season.

6 -- Times in the past eight races the final green-flag stretch was less than 10 laps, including this year's April's race, which ended in the sixth green-white-checkered finish in track history.

Side note: The April race also featured a 124-lap green stretch, the longest ever at RIR since individual caution lap details became available in the 1997 season. The previous long was 103 laps set last September. The new car was used in both races. Before that, the longest green stretch had been 98 laps in March 1997.

21 -- Place of finish for points leader Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in this year's April race at Richmond, one of just four finishes of 20th or worse the season. Stenhouse has finished 20th or worse in two of this three RIR starts; the other resulted in a fourth-place finish, last September.

Side note: Second-place Elliott Sadler, who trails Stenhouse by 13 points, finished fourth in April. Sadler has made 16 Nationwide starts at RIR, with a best finish of second in 2005; his average finish is 17.6. He has one top-10 in 24 Cup starts there.

108.415 -- Average race speed, in mph, in this year's April race at Richmond (won by Denny Hamlin), setting a track record for the fastest race at the track.

Side note: Track records also were set for the fewest number of cautions laps at 12, and matched for the fewest number of cautions at three (for the third time).

Very Interesting

5 -- Wins at Richmond for Kevin Harvick, tying him with Mark Martin for the most. His five wins have come with four different crew chiefs.

Side note: Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards each have three wins at Richmond with a different crew chief each time.

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3 -- Drivers who combined have won eight of the past nine races at Richmond: Kyle Busch (3); Jimmie Johnson (3); Denny Hamlin (2). The only exception during that span was Clint Bowyer (2008).

3 -- Cautions in last September's race at Richmond, the fewest in the past 27 races there. There were eight in this year's April race.

4 -- Top-10 starts in as many races at Richmond for Brad Keselowski, the longest current streak. However, he is still looking for his first top-10 finish (best of 14th in May 2010).

8 -- Different pole winners in the past eight races at Richmond that had time trials. Only three of the past 38 races were won from the pole: Kasey Kahne (May 2005); Jimmie Johnson (September 2007); Kyle Busch (May 2010). Before that, you have to go back to March 1992 to find the next pole/race winner (Bill Elliott).

Side note: Although only five of the past 17 races have been won from starting positions outside the top 10, four the past seven races at RIR have been won from starting positions of 14th or worse.

Very Interesting

11 -- Races at Richmond since a Ford last won, which just happened to be the most recent race run on Sept. 10 (date of this year's race): Kurt Busch in 2005. Chevrolet won the next six races; Toyota the past five.

Side note: Dodge's most recent victory at RIR came in May 2005: Kasey Kahne. In September 2004, Jeremy Mayfield raced his Dodge into the first Chase by winning at RIR.

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4 -- Season sweeps at Richmond in the Nationwide Series, most recently by Kevin Harvick (2006). Spring winner Denny Hamlin is not entered in this week's race.

Side note: Butch Lindley won the final two of three races at RIR in 1982, the only year the track hosted three races.

8 -- Combined Nationwide/Cup wins at Richmond for Joe Gibbs Racing since 2009. The combination of Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin have won the past five Cup races; three of the past five Nationwide races.

9 -- Season sweeps at Richmond in the Cup Series, most recently by Jimmie Johnson (2007). Spring winner Kyle Busch has never won in the fall; he finished second last September.

12 -- Combined Nationwide and Cup wins at Richmond for Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, each with six. Busch has three each in both series; Harvick has five in Nationwide, one in Cup.

Side note 1: Since 2003, either Busch or Harvick has celebrated at least once in Victory Lane at RIR every year except 2008.

Side note 2: Busch and Harvick are the most recent drivers to win at RIR from the pole in either series (both last year): Busch in Cup (May); Harvick in Nationwide (September), the only time both have won a race at RIR in the same year.

Very Interesting

5 -- Combined Nationwide and Cup wins at Richmond for Harry Gant, who owns the track marks for oldest winner in both series: Gant was 51 years, 7 months, 28 days on Sept. 7, 1991 when he won the Cup race (he had won the Nationwide race that weekend, too); he was 52 years, 1 month, 26 days when he won the Nationwide race on March 7, 1992.

Side note: Gant, who won four times at RIR in the Nationwide Series, also is the oldest pole winner in series history at the track: 48 years, 8 months, 0 days on Sept. 10, 1988.

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2 -- Consecutive fall wins at Richmond for Denny Hamlin, who currently holds the last wild-card spot. (A second win in 2011 would seal his Chase berth).

Side note: Hamlin has led 1,188 laps at Richmond in just 11 races, already third-most of all time (on the three-quarters-mile layout), and has six top-fives.

9 -- Place of finish for Tony Stewart in this year's April race at Richmond, his only top-10 in the past nine short-track races. His best two short-track (Bristol, Martinsville, Richmond) finishes during that span have come at RIR (he finished 16th last September). His other finishes have been 19th or worse (Stewart clinches a Chase berth with a finish of 18th or better).

Side note: Stewart has finished 18th or better in all but five of his 25 starts at Richmond.

19 -- Place of finish for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in this year's April race at Richmond, his first top-20 finish in the past five races there (Junior clinches a Chase berth with a finish of 20th or better).

Side note: Earnhardt has finished 20th or better in 18 of his 24 races at Richmond.

38 -- Starting position for Clint Bowyer in May 2008, the worst of any winner at Richmond. Bowyer has a 9.5 average finish at RIR, but that's not enough -- he needs to win to have a shot.

Side note: A.J. Allmendinger, one spot ahead of Bowyer in points, also needs to win. He has posted top-10s in his past two races at RIR, but needs more.

Very Interesting

37 -- Place of finish in this year's April race for Paul Menard, his worst in nine races at RIR. (Menard would seal a wild-berth with a win). Menard's best finish at Richmond is 16th in his first start there in 2007; he hasn't finished better than 26th in any of the races since.

Side note 1: Marcos Ambrose needs to win and squeeze into the top 20 in points (he's currently 21st). Ambrose was fifth last September, one of three top-11 finishes, but finished 23rd in April.

Richmond: Chase clinch scenarios

Three spots remain
Fourteen drivers are mathematically eligible | Four control their own destinies
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: A finish of 20th or better clinches a spot. Even if Keselowski does knock Earnhardt out of the top 10, he could still earn a Chase berth if there is only one winner from spots 11th to 02th.
Tony Stewart: A finish of 18th or better clinches a spot. Like Earnhardt, even if Keselowski does knock Stewart out of the top 10, Stewart could still earn a Chase berth if there is only one winner from spots 11th to 20th.
Denny Hamlin: A win, and he's in. Hamlin doesn't have to win, though. If he stays ahead of all one-win drivers, and there are no other two-win drivers inside the top 20, he's in. Also, if Keselowski does vault into the top 10, Hamlin could still make the Chase if there is a two-win driver from 11th to 20th as long as he's higher in points than any other one-win driver.
A.J. Allmendinger: Allmendinger is where the wild card drama starts to ratchet up. A win is the onlything that matters and he'll need a win and movement up the points to nab the tie-breaker. He finished seventh at RIR in April.
Clint Bowyer: Of the winless drivers, Bowyer might be the best bet. Bowyer won here in 2008, and has an average finish of 9.5. He needs a win, and some help.
Greg Biffle: One of six winless drivers who won in 2010, Biffle's best Richmond finish was third in 2005. He needs a win, and some help.
Martin Truex Jr.: Two of his past four finishes have been in the top five. His best finish at RIR is fifth in 2008. He needs a win, and some help.
Kasey Kahne: Kahne, who needs a win and some help, won at Richmond in 2005, his first career victory.
Joey Logano: Needs a win and help. His best finish at RIR was fourth in 2010.
Mark Martin: Needs a win and help; he won at Richmond in 1990.
Paul Menard: Win, and he's in. His best finish at RIR is 16th in 2007.
Marcos Ambrose: If he wins, and gets into the top 20, he's in. Two of his past three Richmond finishes were in the top 10.
Juan Montoya: Needs a win and help. His best finish was sixth in May of last year.
David Ragan: If he wins, and gets into the top 20, he's in. He finished fourth in April, and third in 2007.

Side note 2: David Ragan also needs to win and manage his way into the top 20 (currently 23rd). He finished fourth in April, one of two top-fives in nine starts.

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7 -- Consecutive races at Richmond won by Richard Petty (September 1970 to September 1973).

Side note: Darrell Waltrip (Class of 2012) is the only other driver to win seven in a row in the Cup Series (Bristol).

8 -- Poles at Richmond for Richard Petty (Class of 2010), tied with Bobby Allison (Class of 2011) for most of all time.

Side note: Petty scored six wins at RIR from the pole.

13 -- Wins at Richmond for Richard Petty, most in track history and all on the half-mile layout.

Side note: Petty was the track's youngest race winner (23 years, 9 months, 21 days on April 23, 1961).

34 -- Top-fives at Richmond for Richard Petty, most of all time.

Side note: Petty also holds track marks for top-10s (41) and starts (63). All but eight of his starts came on the half-mile layout. His best finish on the three-quarters-mile layout was 11th.

Very Interesting

488 -- Laps led by Richard Petty in September 1970, most of any winner. His son Kyle holds the record for fewest laps led by a winner at RIR: four in February 1986.

Side note: Petty led 5,128 laps at RIR, most of any driver.

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