It’s time to get back to short-track racing, as the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Richmond Raceway for the second stop in the playoffs’ Round of 16. Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) will be run underneath the lights.
Richmond Raceway is a 0.75-mile D-shaped oval located in Richmond, Virginia. First opened as a fairgrounds half-mile layout in 1953, Richard Petty holds the record for most wins at the track with 13. Kyle Busch leads all active drivers with six.
The track features 14-degree banking in the corners, 8-degree banking on the frontstretch and two-degree banking on the backstretch. The frontstretch is 1,290 feet long and the backstretch is 860 feet.
The 2020 season is the first since 1959 that Richmond has only hosted a single Cup Series race during the year.
Stage 1 will end at Lap 80, Stage 2 at Lap 235 and the full distance scheduled to end at Lap 400.
Kevin Harvick will start Sunday’s race where he left off at Darlington — at the front of the field. The regular-season champion gets the nod on the Busch Pole alongside Joey Logano, filling out an all-Ford front row.
Chevy drivers Austin Dillon, Alex Bowman, and William Byron round out the top five. The lineup was determined by four performance metrics from the Cup Series’ previous race: 15% based on fastest lap time position, 25% of the driver’s final race finish position, 25% of the owner’s final race position and 35% of the owner points position.
The 2020 NASCAR rules package for short tracks will be in effect with a tapered spacer used to set a target of 750 horsepower. The cars will use a reduced downforce package with a shorter spoiler, a shorter splitter overhang and other aerodynamic changes.
Each team will be provided with nine sets of Goodyear Eagle Speedway Radials for the race.
Richmond’s abrasive surface continues the strategic focus from Darlington – tire management. With high tire wear and additional effort to conserve tires for potential long runs, drivers and crews will have to take risks to gain spots later in the race. The good news for teams is they have run this set-up on similar tracks twice this season at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Phoenix Raceway — the site of the 2020 Cup Series Championship race.
“We’re on a back-to-back stretch of the NASCAR playoff schedule where we race on high-wear race tracks,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing. “Richmond is known for several things – being a racy short track, being a favorite of drivers and fans, and now as a high-wear track. The tire set-up for Richmond is aligned with two other tracks that are of similar length — Loudon and Phoenix. That is especially important in this current racing climate with no practice. Having the same tire set-up on a similar track will help teams tune in quicker on their car set-ups, which is even more important with the shorter race distances of short-track racing.”
PLAYOFF STATS TO KNOW
— Sunday’s race at Richmond is the third race in a slate of five consecutive nighttime races. That stretch continues with the Round of 16 finale at Bristol Motor Speedway and the Round of 12 opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
— Heading into the 28th race of the season, this marks the latest Kyle Busch has gone without a win. With nine races left to extend his 15-year winning streak, his best chance may come at the next two tracks, where he has 14 career wins between the two.
— Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch and William Byron are the only drivers to finish in the top 10 in both races at tracks under 1-mile this season. Keselowski, Busch and Byron each currently sit above the Round of 16 cutline.
— Since May, Kevin Harvick has passed Junior Johnson, Ned Jarrett, Lee Petty, Rusty Wallace and Kyle Busch on the all-time wins list — 46% of Harvick’s wins have come after turning 40.
Source: Racing Insights
For a more interactive experience, head over to NASCAR.com or the NASCAR app to check out an enhanced Race Center, live Lap-by-Lap coverage, the customizable live leaderboard with Scanner (which is FREE for both races), and the return of Drive (featuring in-car cameras).
RELATED: Darlington Scanner Sounds
2019 RACE WINNER
Martin Truex Jr. put on a show in last year’s playoff race at Richmond, sweeping the season series at the track and edging Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch — who led a race-high 202 laps — by a 2.6-second margin. Truex regained the lead from Busch with just 26 laps to go, setting up an electric finish between the two championship contenders.
RELATED: 2019 Federated Auto Parts 400 recap
ACTIVE RICHMOND WINNERS
Kyle Busch (six wins); Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, and Denny Hamlin (three wins each); Matt Kenseth, Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, and Joey Logano (two wins each); Ryan Newman and Brad Keselowski (one win each).