The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stops at Richmond International Raceway for the ninth race of the 2012 season, the Capital City 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 28, 2012; 7:43 p.m./et.
Weather: Mostly cloudy with a high around 67; wind out of the E at 6 mph. Chance of precipitation is 10%.
The Track: Richmond International Raceway
Richmondis 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 Capital City 400 will be wild. There should be plenty of bent sheet metal and angry drivers when the checkers fly.
46 cars will attempt to qualify for 43 spots on Saturday, April 27 at 5:35pm. If the first practice is run, but qualifying is unable to take place, the starting lineup will be based on speeds from the car's fastest lap from the first practice, with top-35 cars in owner points no longer segregated from the non-top 35 cars. Previously, the top 35 cars lined up in front of all other eligible car owners.
Fantasy Cheat Sheet:
No. 18 Kyle Busch: Rowdy has run excellent at RIR during his career. He dominated the past two May races and has 10 top five finishes in 13 career starts at the track.
No. 29 Kevin Harvick: Harvick won last fall and has finished in the top 12 in 14 of the last 15 races at RIR. A top five 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 10 races at venue. We all know J.J. drives just a little faster once the nighttime air gets a little cooler.
No. 11 Denny Hamlin: Hamlin dominated the fall race at RIR in 2009. The Virginia native is a great pick in his home state.
No. 99 Carl Edwards: Edwards finally appeared to figure out RIR last year. He should have the No. 99 sled back inside the top five.
6 to 10
No. 24 Jeff Gordon: Gordon has finished in the top 14 in the past nine races at Richmond. He is an excellent pick.
No. 14 Tony Stewart: Smoke has three career wins at RIR and has 16 top 10 finishes in 26 career starts. He hasn't won at the track since 2002 so he is due for another visit to victory lane.
No. 15 Clint Bowyer: Bowyer won the May 2008 race at RIR and has finished worse than 12th just three times at the track during his career. This is a good weekend to use the No. 15 car.
No. 39 Ryan Newman: Newman has been very successful at RIR in the past. He is worth taking a chance on.
No. 16 Greg Biffle: Biffle has finished eighth or better in six of the past 15 RIR races. The Biff is a solid second driver in all leagues this week.
11 to 20
No. 17 Matt Kenseth: Kenseth didn’t lead a lap this spring at RIR, but he still managed a top five finish. Look for the crafty veteran to use his skill for another strong finish.
No. 5 Kasey Kahne: Kahne has finished in the top 10 in six of the last 14 races at RIR. He is a fine pick this weekend.
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. 2 Brad Keselowski: Keselowski has been average at RIR in his brief career. There are better options to anchor your squad this week.
No. 56 Martin Truex Jr.: RIR is one of Truex's favorite tracks. He finished seventh at the track in May 2010 and is a great pick this weekend.
No. 55 Mark Martin: Martin has averaged a 12th place finish in 51 career starts at RIR and has finished in the top 20 in all but two of his last 22 starts at the track.
No. 31 Jeff Burton: Burton has nine top five finishes and 15 top 10 finishes in 35 career starts at RIR. The Virginia Native is a solid pick this week.
No. 51 Kurt Busch: Busch won the fall race at RIR in 2005 and has finished in the top 10 in seven of the past 10 races at the track. A top 20 finish should be expected.
No. 9 Marcos Ambrose: Ambrose has had no difficulty in his first six 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.
21 to 30
No. 20 Joey Logano: Logano was fast enough for top 23 finishes in the past six trips to Richmond. We should see similar results from him this weekend.
No. 27 Paul Menard: Menard was awesome at RIR last spring. He is a great fourth driver in most leagues.
No. 22 A.J. Allmendinger: A.J. has averaged a 22nd place finish during his career at RIR.
He should finish better than his average on Saturday.
No. 10 David Reutimann: Reutimann has had decent success at RIR during his career. He should notch another top 25 finish.
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. 78 Regan Smith: Smith has had three decent runs at Richmond during his career. He isn’t a bad for those in a deep, deep league.
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 30 on Saturday.
No. 32 Reed Sorenson: Sorenson is in the No. 32 Jack Roush owned ride this weekend. He is a good sleeper pick.
No. 34 David Ragan: Ragan has averaged an 18th place finish at RIR during his career. He should have the No. 34 inside the top 30 when the checkers fly.
No. 43 Aric Almirola
No. 93 Travis Kvapil
No. 83 Landon Cassill
No. 33 Stephen Leicht
No. 38 David Gilliland
No. 36 Dave Blaney
No. 19 Mike Bliss
No. 49 J.J. Yeley
No. 30 David Stremme
No. 87 Joe Nemechek
No. 98 Michael McDowell
No. 95 Scott Speed
No. 23 Scott Riggs
No. 74 Stacy Compton
No. 26 Josh Wise
No. 52 TBA
1. Kyle Busch
2. Kevin Harvick
3. Jimmie Johnson
4. Denny Hamlin
1. Reed Sorenson
2. Casey Mears
Juan Pablo Montoya