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Preview: NASCAR Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway 

Brad Keselowski will look to go back-to-back at Richmond Raceway. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski will look to go back-to-back at Richmond Raceway. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Ted Fleming
EXPERT

For the third straight race weekend, the NASCAR Cup Series will head to a short track for the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway on Sunday. This will be the first of two stops the series will make at the Virginia venue; the next will be the second race of the Playoffs Round of 16.

Three weeks ago, the NASCAR Cup Series raced on dirt for the first time in a half-century, but did you know that from 1953 to 1968, Richmond hosted 24 dirt events? While Bristol became a dirt track for one race and will shift back to its original configuration for the playoffs, Richmond did it the other way around; going from dirt to asphalt between events in 1968, and has stuck to asphalt ever since, despite several reconfigurations along the way.

Since it opened, there have been 128 NASCAR Cup Series races at Richmond, producing 52 different winners. Hall of Famer Richard Petty tops the list with 13 victories. He also has the most top 5s (35) and top 10s (41). Petty is tied with Bobby Alison for the most poles with eight.

Heading into this weekend, Kyle Busch is the active leader with six victories, including a sweep of both races in 2018. That’s twice as many as runners-up Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick. Others entered in the Toyota Owners 400 that have taken the checkered flag at this track are Brad Keselowski (2 wins), Joey Logano (2), Kurt Busch (2), Martin Truex Jr. (2), Kyle Larson and Ryan Newman (1 each).

When it comes to short tracks, Kyle Busch also dominates amongst his peers with 16 victories (Martinsville 2, Richmond 6, and Bristol 8), six more than Hamlin and Kyle's brother Kurt. Seven of the 10 drivers who have victories on a short track are looking for their first win of 2021. Brad Keselowski, one of the seven, is the defending race champion.

Despite all his success at Richmond and short tracks, Kyle Busch is the fourth favorite, at 8/1 odds.

Streak Broken

Denny Hamlin was dominant in the NASCAR Cup Series Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville last Sunday. He seemed to be on his way to being the eighth different NASCAR Cup Series driver to win a race this season, which would have been two away from tying the all-time record. However, he faded near the end of the race, finishing third while Martin Truex Jr. became the season's first repeat winner.

The NASCAR Toyota Owners 400 will have no practice or qualifying

After the COVID-19 pandemic halted the 2020 season, NASCAR canceled all pre-event practices, and the only qualifying session held was for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. This year, the racing body has selected just eight races to have both sessions, but Richmond is not one of those eight.

A look at the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota Owners 400, by the numbers

RACE: Number 9 of 36

WHAT: Toyota Owners 400

WHERE: Richmond Raceway, Henrico County, Virginia

WHEN: Sunday, April 18 at 3:00 p.m.

TV/RADIO: Fox / MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

TRACK SIZE: 0.750-mile D-shaped oval

FRONTSTRETCH / BACKSTRETCH: 1,290 feet / 860-feet

BANKING: 14° corners / 8° frontstretch / 2° backstretch

RACE LENGTH: 300 miles (400 laps)

STAGES: 80 / 235 / 400

WEATHER: Partly to mostly cloudy. High 67F. Winds light and variable. (via Weather.com)

ODDS (From VegasInsider):

4/1 Martin Truex Jr.

6/1 Brad Keselowski

13/2 Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano

8/1 Kyle Busch

TRACK HISTORY

FIRST RACE: April 19, 1953 (Lee Petty won the inaugural event, the Richmond 200 in a Dodge

OWNER: International Speedway Corporation

ORIGINAL TRACK NAME: Atlantic Rural Fairgrounds

Edited by Sandeep Banerjee
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