Anthony Ballantoni

Mid-Pack Attack

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Richmond: Crown Royal 400

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Track history: Richmond International Raceway (RIR) started out in 1946 as a 1/2-mile dirt oval. The first NASCAR Cup Series event was held there 7 years later. The track was finally paved in 1968. The facility's present configuration was constructed in September 1988. It is now a 3/4-mile 'D' shaped asphalt oval with banking of 14 degrees allowing the cars to average 125 mph laps.

In 1991, lights were installed around the track and since then, all racing at Richmond is "under the lights."

RIR is almost completely surrounded by grandstand seats. In May 2007, the new TORQUE Club and Commonwealth Grandstand opened to the public. After the September 2006 race, about 3,000 of the low-row seats were removed and the 180-foot high structure was built. This gave the Raceway a gain of almost 5,000 seats, bringing the seating capacity to 112,029.

April 19, 1953: Buck Baker qualified the No. 87 Griffin Motors '53 Oldsmobile on the pole for the 1953 Richmond 200 with a lap of 48.465 mph on the half-mile dirt track. He finished 3rd to race winner, Lee Petty. Petty, father of Richard Petty, won $1000 for putting his 1953 Petty Enterprises Dodge up front at the end of the 100 mile event.

May 1, 2010: Kyle Busch started on pole for the Crown Royal Presents the Heath Calhoun 400. His No. 18 M&M's Toyota led 221 of the first 229 laps in the 400-lap event. He fell back for the next 167 laps, still running in the top ten and made it back to the front for the final four laps to pick up his first win of 2010. Jeff Gordon, who started the No. 24 Chevrolet 4th and led 144 laps, finished in 2nd place.

September 11, 2010: Carl Edwards was on pole for the Air Guard 400. He kept the No. 99 Ford out front for 95 laps and finished in 10th. Other lap leaders: No. 33-Clint Bowyer (33 laps, finished 6th), 31-Jeff Burton (11 laps, 13th), 48-Jimmie Johnson (7, 3rd) and 42-Juan Pablo Montoya (3, 7th). No. 11 Toyota driver, Denny Hamlin, was the class of the field with 251 laps led ncluding the most important one as well. He was being chased at the end by teammate Kyle Busch (No. 18) but crossed the line in front by a 0.537 second margin of victory. This was Hamlin's 6th of 8 Cup victories in 2010. He went into the Chase as the top-seeded driver following this event.

Your fantasy game won't allow you to pick all track favorites so Mid-Pack Attack is here to help. A mid-packer may not win the race but has as good a shot at a top 15 finish as track favorites Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson. There were 44 cars on the preliminary entry list for this weekend's Cup race. Here are our picks for Saturday night's Crown Royal 400 in Richmond, Virginia.

Mid-Pack picks

Marcos Ambrose is ranked No. 1 in NASCAR Statistics 'Quality Passes' (passing while running in the top 15) category. In the last four Cup races at Richmond, he made 131 QP's. In last September's race alone, he racked up 39 of those passes and scored an RIR career best finish of 5th. Ambrose also earned a 9th place in the 2010 running of this race. He has an overall 11.8 average Richmond finish. He was also running at the finish, and on the lead lap, in all four events as well. This is a good week to put Ambrose on your roster.

In 33 Sprint Cup Series starts at RIR, Jeff Burton has one pole, one win (September 1998), nine top-five and 15 top-10 finishes. He keeps the fenders on the car at this tough short track. Burton was running at finish in 32 of those races (a blown engine accounted for the one DNF). He holds a 14.5 starting average coupled with a 14.4 finishing average and has led 930 laps. Burton scored an 18th or better in 11 of the last 12 races and top tens in 3 of the last 5 of his starts at Richmond. Enough said.

In 4 Cup starts at RIR, Joey Logano has results of 19th, 14th, 16th and 4th place finishes. He did better in his three Nationwide Series starts at Richmond with finishes of 7th, 6th and 6th. Back to the Cup Series. To date, Logano has 14 short track starts and earned only 3 top tens. We look at top 15 finishes so it looks like the No. 20 driver fits our criteria and, of the three short tracks, his best numbers are at Richmond. Give Logano a look this week for a fourth or fifth driver on your team.

Need a top 15 driver at Richmond; look no further than Brad Keselowski. He finished 14th and 15th in the 2010 Sprint Cup races at RIR. Over in the Nationwide Series, his last four races at this track (2009 and 2010) resulted in a 4th, a 4th, a Win and a runner-up 2nd place. Keselowski hasn't carried over the results from the NNS to the Cup, but top 15's aren't too shabby either at the ¾ mile venue. Round out your roster with the Blue Deuce on Saturday night.


Tony Ballantoni runs the NASCAR coverage at RotoWorld.com.
Email :Anthony Ballantoni



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