The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stops at Richmond International Raceway for the ninth race of the 2011 season, the Crown Royal Presents the Matthew and Daniel Hansen 400. This event will be one of the most exciting races of the year as drivers attempt to manage the tricky configuration of RIR's "long-short" track. We took a look at past performances, season trends, and talked to NASCAR contacts to shed a light on how the field should finish on Saturday night.When:
Saturday, April 30, 2011; 7:43 p.m./et.Weather:
Mostly sunny with a high around 76; wind out of the WSW at 7 mph. Chance of precipitation is 10%.The Track:
Richmond International Raceway
Richmond is a .75 mile D-shaped oval. It has fairly flat 14 degree banking in the turns and 8 degree banking on the straights. Key to Race:
SATURDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
Saturday night racing seem to bring out the best and worst in NASCAR drivers the Crown Royal 400 will be wild. There should be plenty of bent sheet metal and angry drivers when the checkers fly. Qualifying Procedures:
44 cars will attempt to qualify for 43 spots. Cars not in the top 35 in the final 2010 owner point standings will have to qualify based on speed. Starting positions 1-43 will be determined during qualifying on Friday, April 29 at 5:35 pm/et.Fantasy Cheat Sheet:Top 5
No. 11 Denny Hamlin
: Hamlin dominated the fall race at RIR last season. The Virginia native is a great pick in his home state.
No. 18 Kyle Busch
: Rowdy has run excellent at RIR during his career. He dominated the May race last year and has nine top five finishes in 11 career starts.
No. 29 Kevin Harvick
: Harvick has finished in the top 12 in 12 of the last 13 races at RIR. A top 10 finish is expected.
No. 48 Jimmie Johnson
: Johnson admitted in the past that RIR is a tough track for him, but he has won three of the last eight races at the track.
No. 24 Jeff Gordon
: Gordon has finished in the top 12 in the past seven races at Richmond. He is once again a very good option if he can avoid an incident.6 to 10
No. 22 Kurt Busch
: Busch won the fall race at RIR in 2005 and has finished in the top 10 in five of the past eight races at the track. Another top 10 finish should be expected.
No. 33 Clint Bowyer
: Bowyer won the May 2008 race at RIR and has finished worse than 12th just one time at the track during his career. This is a good weekend to use the No. 33 car.
No. 39 Ryan Newman
: Newman has been very successful at RIR in the past. He is worth taking a chance on.
No. 14 Tony Stewart
: Smoke has three career wins at RIR and has 15 top 10 finishes in 24 career starts. He hasn't won at the track since 2002 so he is due for another visit to victory lane.
No. 5 Mark Martin
: Martin has averaged a 12th place finish in 49 career starts at RIR and has finished in the top 20 in all but two of his last 20 starts at the track.11 to 20
No. 31 Jeff Burton
: Burton has nine top five finishes and 15 top 10 finishes in 33 career starts at RIR. The Virginia Native is a solid pick this week.
No. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
: Junior has three career wins at RIR, including the May 2006 race. Look for No. 88 to finish in the top 15 this weekend.
No. 16 Greg Biffle
: Biffle has finished eighth or better in five of the past 13 RIR races making him a great third driver on fantasy teams.
No. 56 Martin Truex Jr.
: RIR is one of Truex's favorite tracks. He finished seventh at the track last May and is a great pick this weekend.
No. 99 Carl Edwards
: Edwards hasn't had a great deal of success at RIR during his career. He will need lots of luck to crack the top 10.
No. 4 Kasey Kahne
: Kahne has finished in the top 10 in five of the last 12 races at RIR. He is a fine pick this weekend.
No. 9 Marcos Ambrose
: Ambrose has had no difficulty in his first four Cup races at Richmond. The Terrific Tasmanian is worth using in most leagues this trip to the track.
No. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya
: Montoya has appeared to have solved Richmond's tricky configuration. He should have the No. 42 car near the top 15 on Saturday.
No. 17 Matt Kenseth
: Kenseth hasn't been great in the past six races at RIR, but we think he shouldn't have a problem cracking the top 20.
No. 20 Joey Logano
: Logano was fast enough for top 20 finishes in the past four trips to Richmond. We should see a similar result from him this weekend.21 to 30
No. 00 David Reutimann
: Reutimann has had decent success at RIR during his career. He should notch another top 25 finish.
No. 2 Brad Keselowski
: Keselowski blew an engine in his first trip to RIR, but was decent the past two trips. He will hopefully avoid going up in smoke on Saturday.
No. 43 A.J. Allmendinger: A.J. has averaged a 24th place finish during his career at RIR.
He should finish right near his average on Saturday.
No. 1 Jamie McMurray
: This is one of McMurray's worst tracks. Avoid him!
No. 13 Casey Mears
: Mears has averaged a top 20 finish the past four years at RIR. He is a fine sleeper.
No. 6 David Ragan
: Ragan is still looking for consistency at RIR. In eight career starts at the track he has finished 23rd, 24th, 33rd, 23rd, 32nd, 17th, 3rd, and 20th. He will miss a top 20 finish again on Saturday.
No. 27 Paul Menard
: Menard has been much better than expected this season, but we see him finishing right around his 27th place finish career average at RIR.
No. 78 Regan Smith
: Smith has had two decent runs at Richmond during his career. He isn't an option unless you are in a deep, deep league.
No. 83 Brian Vickers
: Vickers has had his fair share of struggles at Richmond during his career. We don't recommend the Red Bull pilot this week.
No. 47 Bobby Labonte
: Richmond is a track where Labonte has had decent success during his career. He shouldn't have an issue cracking the top 35 on Saturday.Field Fillers
No. 7 Robby Gordon
No. 34 David Gilliland
No. 71 Andy Lally
No. 32 Ken Schrader
No. 09 Landon Cassill
No. 87 Joe Nemechek
No. 46 J.J. Yeley
No. 36 Dave Blaney
No. 60 Mike Skinner
No. 66 Michael McDowell
No. 37 Tony Raines
No. 38 Travis Kvapil
No. 30 David Stremme
No. 92 Brian KeselowskiBrownie's PicksTop Four:
1. Denny Hamlin
2. Kyle Busch
3. Kevin Harvick
4. Jimmie JohnsonSleepers:
1. Marcos Ambrose
2. Brian VickersBust:Matt Kenseth