RICHMOND, Va. — The 2018 NASCAR Cup Sequence season has been considerably historic within the sense it’s the first that three totally different drivers have gained three consecutive races.
Kevin Harvick rattled off consecutive wins at Atlanta, Las Vegas and Phoenix. Kyle Busch did it for Texas, Bristol and Richmond. Brad Keselowski has gained the previous three weeks at Darlington, Indianapolis and Las Vegas.
Neither Harvick nor Busch might seize a fourth consecutive win. And the chances in all probability are towards Keselowski, who admits he has not had the dominant automotive.
There’s just one factor the 43-year-old regrets about his race profession: the shortage of a collection championship. He’ll get one final shot beginning Friday at Richmond Worldwide Raceway.
Think about making a deal the place you furnish your opponents with vehicles and elements, after which they exit and beat you for a title. These alliances work, however they “include challenges.”
The Monster Power NASCAR Cup Sequence playoffs proceed on Saturday, September 22 at Richmond Raceway. Inexperienced flag: 7:43pm/et.
Keselowski will begin eighth Saturday evening within the Federated Auto Components 400 at Richmond Raceway. Harvick gained the pole in qualifying Friday evening, and Denny Hamlin will begin second.
“I believe you need to acknowledge that we’re lucky to have the alternatives and that we have not simply dominated the races,” Keselowski stated. “Whenever you dominate a race, you do not really want a possibility. You simply do not want any dangerous luck.
“We’ve got not been dominating the races; we have been in a position to get alternatives to type of change our fortune and we have made essentially the most of them, so I believe you acknowledge that and then you definately acknowledge that taking advantage of your alternatives is so vital in motorsports and in life. That is, that is the place we’re at right this moment with these wins that we have had.”
Richmond serves because the second race of the three-race opening spherical of the playoffs with the unpredictable Charlotte Motor Speedway street course being the elimination race subsequent week. The 4 drivers who have not gained within the spherical and the bottom in factors among the many playoff drivers shall be eradicated from playoff rivalry.
The common end at Richmond amongst playoff drivers: Kyle Busch (7.2), Hamlin (9.three), Kyle Larson (10.zero), Harvick (10.three), Joey Logano (11.5), Clint Bowyer (13.1), Keselowski (13.7), Chase Elliott (13.eight), Jimmie Johnson (15.three), Kurt Busch (15.three), Aric Almirola (16.three), Erik Jones (19.zero), Martin Truex Jr. (19.eight), Austin Dillon (21.1), Ryan Blaney (28.6) and Alex Bowman (30.6).
Playoff drivers with Cup wins at Richmond: Kyle Busch (5), Hamlin (three), Harvick (three), Jimmie Johnson (three), Kurt Busch (2), Bowyer (2), Logano (2), Keselowski (1) and Larson (1).
This is the lineup rundown for Saturday evening’s race, pending inspection that begins at midday:
1. Kevin Harvick (Stewart-Haas Racing No. four Ford): Harvick sits in fourth within the standings, with a 38-point cushion on 13th (the present playoff cutoff). Harvick gained at Richmond in September 2006, September 2011 and September 2013. He has 5 fifth-place finishes at Richmond in his previous eight begins.
2. Denny Hamlin (Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota): Hamlin sits 16th within the standings as he faces a 20-point deficit to get again contained in the playoff bubble. Hamlin loves Richmond, incomes Cup wins in September 2009, September 2010 and September 2016. He has six consecutive finishes of sixth or higher on the monitor, the place his 1,659 laps led leads all energetic drivers.
three. Martin Truex Jr. (Furnishings Row Racing No. 78 Toyota): Truex leads the Cup standings and has a 65-point edge on 13th. If he leaves Richmond with at the least a 56-point edge on 12th, he’ll be locked into the following spherical. Truex has by no means gained at Richmond, however he led 193 laps in September 2016, 198 laps in September 2017 and 121 laps in April 2018.
four. Ryan Blaney (Crew Penske No. 12 Ford): Blaney sits seventh within the standings with a 20-point cushion on 13th (the present playoff cutoff). He would possibly want that cushion, as his profession greatest in 5 Cup begins at Richmond is 18th. What’s unusual: He has 5 top-10s in his 5 Xfinity begins on the monitor.
5. Daniel Suarez (Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota): Suarez has back-to-back top-10s at Richmond. And he completed within the prime 10 final week at Las Vegas. Suarez, who already has taken Joe Gibbs Racing out of his Twitter bio, is making his case for Stewart-Haas Racing to rent him to interchange Kurt Busch in 2019. Suarez: “There was loads occurring and it may be arduous to focus generally. We all know that we all know how one can do it — we simply want the fitting items collectively. That is positively one of the best automotive I’ve had in race trim at this monitor.”
6. Kurt Busch (Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Ford): Busch sits sixth within the standings with a 24-point cushion on the 13th spot (the present playoff cutoff). He has Cup wins in September 2005 and April 2015 on the monitor. He led 98 laps in April earlier than settling for 11th. However he is aware of how one can go quick at Richmond, a spot the place he has began within the prime 10 in his earlier eight begins and has led 904 laps in his Cup profession.
7. Aric Almirola (Stewart-Haas Racing No. 10 Ford): Almirola sits in ninth within the standings with a 12-point cushion on 13th (the present playoff cutoff). It is likely to be sensible to select him to complete 17th — he has completed 17th in three of his previous 4 Richmond begins. He has historically not certified properly at Richmond, beginning 23rd by means of 27th in his earlier eight Richmond begins, so this beginning spot is a giant deal.
eight. Brad Keselowski (Crew Penske No. 2 Ford): Keselowski has superior to the second spherical of the playoffs because of the win at Las Vegas. Keselowski would possibly wish to save his luck for future races. He is already good at Richmond, a spot the place he led 383 laps on the way in which to victory in September 2014. He rallied from a 28th-place beginning spot to complete eighth in April.
9. Erik Jones (Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota): Jones sits 15th within the standings, going through a 19-point deficit on 12th, the present spot he would wish to get to in an effort to advance. Jones was 13th in April and sixth a 12 months in the past at Richmond.
10. Kyle Larson (Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet): Larson sits eighth within the standings with a 13-point cushion on 13th (the present playoff cutoff). The defending winner of this race, Larson was seventh in April.
11. Cole Custer (Rick Ware Racing No. 51 Chevrolet): Custer is making his third Cup begin of the 12 months. The additional monitor time should not harm the Xfinity Sequence championship contender. Neither will having some SHR gear and crew.
12. Kyle Busch (Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota): Busch sits second within the standings with a 63-point cushion on 13th (the present playoff cutoff). If he leaves Richmond with a 56-point cushion on 12th, he’ll be locked into the following spherical. Busch’s win at Richmond in April was his fifth on the monitor, going together with wins in Might 2009, Might 2010, April 2011 and April 2012. He has 1,089 laps led at Richmond, rating second to solely Denny Hamlin (1,659) amongst these drivers within the subject.
13. Joey Logano (Crew Penske No. 22 Ford): Logano sits fifth within the standings and has a 34-point cushion on 13th (the present playoff cutoff). Logano gained at Richmond in April 2014 and April 2017. That win in 2014 began a streak of top-10 finishes that’s at 9 at Richmond, the place he has completed of first, second and fourth in his previous three begins.
14. Alex Bowman (Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet): Bowman is clinging to a playoff spot as he sits 12th within the standings, six factors “to the nice” of the playoff bubble. He began 11th and completed 18th in April, and he might want to enhance on that if he needs to remain to the nice.
15. Jamie McMurray (Chip Ganassi Racing No. 1 Chevrolet): McMurray had two stable runs earlier than the crash final week at Las Vegas. His final top-5 at Richmond got here in April 2015. He’s looking for a journey for subsequent 12 months, as Chip Ganassi has provided him only a Daytona 500 journey after which a administration place with the staff.
16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 Ford): Stenhouse has two profession top-10s at Richmond, together with a fourth in April 2017. However the remainder of his finishes have been 16th or worse.
17. Ryan Newman (Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet): Newman gained this race 15 years in the past. Since then he has simply three top-5 finishes at Richmond — however a type of got here a 12 months in the past when he completed third.
18. Matt Kenseth (Roush Fenway Racing No. 6 Ford): Kenseth sat on the pole for his earlier two Richmond begins. He has led 253 laps. But folks in all probability bear in mind most that the ambulance obtained misplaced on its method to the care heart a 12 months in the past.
19. Chase Elliott (Hendrick Motorsports No. 9 Chevrolet): Elliott sits in 14th within the standings as he faces a nine-point deficit on 12th to get again contained in the playoff bubble. Richmond is a spot the place he can get that executed. He began second and completed second in April. He additionally gained an Xfinity race on the monitor three years in the past.
20. William Byron (Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet): Byron began ninth and completed 12th in April. Do not be shocked if he pulls off a top-10.
21. Paul Menard (Wooden Brothers Racing No. 21 Ford): This is likely to be Menard’s worst monitor. In 23 begins, a fifth-place end in September 2013 is his solely top-10. He has a median beginning spot and end of 24th.
22. Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet): Johnson is 13th within the standings, six factors behind Alex Bowman in 12th. Bowman is at the moment the final driver who would advance on factors. Johnson gained at Richmond twice, sweeping the races in 2007. He has led in only one Richmond race in his previous 11 begins. However he has finishes of 11th or higher in his previous eight.
23. Chris Buescher (JTG Daugherty Racing No. 37 Chevrolet): Could be one other forgettable day for Buescher, who seeks his first top-15 end at Richmond. His greatest is 17th in 5 begins.
24. Michael McDowell (Entrance Row Motorsports No. 34 Ford): McDowell was 12th at Richmond in September 2016, so do not be shocked if he can bust out of his regular mediocre beginning spot.
25. Clint Bowyer (Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Ford): Bowyer sits 11th within the standings with a seven-point cushion on 13th (the present playoff cutoff). Bowyer gained at Richmond in Might 2008 and September 2012. Can he deliver again the magic? Sure. He led 45 laps in April however completed ninth.
26. Bubba Wallace (Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Chevrolet): Wallace completed 25th in April in his solely Cup begin at Richmond. He had two top-10s in six Xfinity begins on the monitor.
27. David Ragan (Entrance Row Motorsports No. 38 Ford): Ragan has a 3rd and a pair of fourths in his Cup profession at Richmond — however the final of these got here in 2011.
28. Austin Dillon (Richard Childress Racing No. three Chevrolet): Dillon sits in 10th within the standings with a nine-point cushion on 13th (the present playoff cutoff). Dillon will want a profession day at Richmond, a spot the place his greatest Cup end was 13th and the place he has solely two finishes higher than 20th.
29. Matt DiBenedetto (Go Fas Racing No. 32 Ford): DiBenedetto loved a 16th-place end in April, a stable run for this staff. He wants one other a type of finishes as he seeks sponsorship and a journey for 2019.
30. AJ Allmendinger (JTG Daugherty Racing No. 47 Chevrolet): Allmendinger seeks his first top-10 at Richmond since April 2014. He has finishes of 26th and 27th in his previous two Richmond begins.
31. Ty Dillon (Germain Racing No. 13 Chevrolet): Dillon was 20th within the spring, not a nasty outcome for his staff.
32. Ross Chastain (Premium Motorsports No. 15 Chevrolet): After his win final week within the Xfinity race at Las Vegas, the watermelon-growing, watermelon-smashing Chastain has been the darling of the media. This is not a nasty monitor for him — he was 28th in April.
33. Regan Smith (Leavine Household Racing No. 95 Chevrolet): Smith has run solely two Cup races at Richmond since 2012, and each of these had been in 2016. His greatest end on the monitor is 17th.
34. Corey LaJoie (TriStar Motorsports No. 72 Chevrolet): LaJoie did not compete on this race in April; he was 29th at Richmond a 12 months in the past.
35. Jeffrey Earnhardt (Gaunt Brothers Racing No. 96 Toyota): Earnhardt is aware of how one can rally just a little bit at Richmond. He began 40th and completed 27th within the regular-season finale two years in the past.
36. Grey Gaulding (Rick Ware Racing No. 52 Chevrolet): Gaulding has completed 35th in his previous two Richmond begins.
37. Alon Day (BK Racing No. 23 Toyota): The Israeli driver is making his second profession Cup begin and first on an oval. He was 32nd a 12 months in the past at Sonoma in his Cup debut.
38. Joey Gase (StarCom Racing No. 00 Chevrolet): Gase will make his fifth begin of the season. He has raced in Cup at Richmond — he caboosed the sector in April 2015.
39. Landon Cassill (StarCom Racing No. 99 Chevrolet): Cassill completed 21st in April 2017 at Richmond, a spot the place he has 14 profession Cup begins.
40. Timmy Hill (Carl Lengthy Motorsports No. 66 Toyota): Hill is making his third begin at Richmond. He has completed 34th in each of his earlier ones.