Everything you need to know about Saturday night’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond, in three minutes:
Three things to watch
1. Team Penske swept the Richmond races last season, with Joey Logano winning the spring race and Joey Logano winning in the fall.
2. Chase Elliott will make his second Cup series start of the season at Richmond. He struggled in his debut last month at Martinsville, Va., finishing 38th.
3. Danica Patrick has two top-10 finishes this season and both came at short tracks. Can be she make it three in a row?
▪ NASCAR Chairman Brian France this week said the sanctioning body will likely do something to “accommodate” driver Kyle Busch and his desire to compete in the championship Chase once he returns from leg and foot injuries he suffered in the Xfinity Series season opener at Daytona. It’s one thing to issue a waiver for missing races, it’s quite another to do away with the requirement drivers should be in the Top 30 of points for their wins to count. Keep making it easier to skip races and pretty soon everyone will.
▪ Erik Jones’ fulltime job this season is driving in the Truck series for Kyle Busch Motorsports. The Truck series has only had three races so far this season. In his “down time,” Jones has run seven Xfinity Series races – winning one of them – and filled in last week for Cup driver Denny Hamlin.
▪ Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr. all rode seven-race top 10 streaks into last weekend’s race at Bristol. They ended up finishing 38th, 40th and 29th. Morgan Shepherd’s 1990 streak of 11 top-10s to open the season remains intact.
Three picks for your fantasy team:
Brad Keselowski: Team Penske owned this track one year ago and Keselowski looks like he has no intentions of giving up that honor.
Denny Hamlin: It’s about time Hamlin ended the highly uncharacteristic streak of four consecutive finishes at Richmond of 18th or worse.
Kasey Kahne: He’s been fast nearly every week and it’s about time he cashed it in once with a trip to Victory Lane.
He said it
“This track is pretty simple-looking from your guy’s seat, but behind the wheel it is really tough, at least for me.” – Driver Kyle Larson, talking to the media Friday.
Joey Logano wins the pole: Team Penske continued its domination of Richmond as Joey Logano – who won this race a year ago – won the pole for Saturday night’s race. The pole is his third of the season and 11th of his career.
Logano and his Penske teammate, Brad Keselowski, swept both wins in the Cup series races at Richmond last season. Keselowski will line up seventh.
Denny Hamlin will start second, Kurt Busch third, A.J. Allmendinger fourth and Kevin Harvick was fifth.
NASCAR takes harder line on inspections: Another warning was issued to teams this week by NASCAR regarding repeated failures at pre-race inspections.
In a bulletin issued to teams, NASCAR said it will begin issuing written warnings if a car fails two inspections before qualifying. A third inspection will lead to the loss of 15 minutes of practice time the next week.
“Dale Earnhardt Day” set for Wednesday: The annual celebration of the late Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s birthday is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday at Dale Earnhardt Inc. in Mooresville. Admission is free and cupcakes will be provided.
Toyota Owners 400
Where: Richmond (Va.) International Raceway
Track type: 3/4-mile paved oval
Race distance: 400 laps or 300 miles
Green flag: 7:15 p.m.
Weather: A near 100 percent chance of rain with high in the mid-50s.
Radio: Motor Racing Network