On Saturday, September 22nd, NASCAR will run their 28th race of the season live from the Richmond International Raceway for the Federated Auto Parts 400. This is the second of three opening round races for the Monster Energy Cup Series postseason. After the third race, the 4 lowest drivers will be eliminated from the playoffs. So, the heat is on for all 16 postseason drivers.
Who will keep their championship hopes alive, and who’s championship dreams will crash and burn at Richmond?
For anyone looking to bet on the 2018 Federated Auto Parts 400, here are the top NASCAR betting sites we would recommend:
The Richmond International Raceway is a short track with a distance of .75 miles per lap and shaped like a “D.” Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts race is 300 miles long and breaks down as follows:
The race begins at 7:30 PM ET and will be televised on the NBC Sports Network.
Coming into Richmond, nobody is hotter than Brad Keselowski. He’s won 3 straight races and now sits one spot closer to the top of the NASCAR playoff standings. In Vegas last weekend, Brad led 75 laps and was able to beat out Kyle Larson and Martin Truex Jr. for the all-important postseason win. With the victory, Keselowski automatically moves on to the second round of the playoffs.
The top 7 finishing spots at Las Vegas were occupied by playoff drivers. Unfortunately, not everyone did as well. Kevin Harvick crashed and finished 39th, while Erik Jones finished 40th due to a crash. Chase Elliot and Denny Hamlin also finished near the back of the back due to crashes. After Vegas, the playoff standings are as follows (Keselowski has already advanced, but I’ve left him in 3rd based on his point):
In addition to the playoffs, the following storylines will also be worth watching this weekend:
The first Richmond race was in 1953. However, the first fall race was run in 1958 and won by Lee Petty. Since the inaugural running, there have been 123 total races at Richmond International Raceway. Kyle Busch won the 2018 spring race at Richmond, but Kyle Larson is the defending fall race champion as he won it last year. The following is a list of the previous 15 winners:
|Year||Winning Driver||Winning Team|
|2003||Ryan Newman||Penske Racing|
|2004||Jeremy Mayfield||Evernham Motorsports|
|2005||Kurt Busch||Roush Racing|
|2006||Kevin Harvick||Richard Childress Racing|
|2007||Jimmie Johnson||Hendrick Motorsports|
|2008||Jimmie Johnson||Hendrick Motorsports|
|2009||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|2010||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|2011||Kevin Harvick||Richard Childress Racing|
|2012||Clint Bowyer||Michael Waltrip Racing|
|2013||Carl Edwards||Roush Fenway Racing|
|2014||Brad Keselowski||Team Penske|
|2015||Matt Kenseth||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|2016||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|2017||Kyle Larson||Chip Ganassi Racing|
The following NASCAR betting odds are courtesy of BetOnline:
The following drivers are listed as the odds on favorites to win at Richmond this weekend:
Last weekend, Busch finished 7th at Las Vegas and only led one lap. Busch hasn’t won a race since Pocono, which was 7 stops ago. Since then, he’s had 5 Top 8 finishes and a 20th. Kyle sits 3nd in the standings, just 2 points behind Truex. However, Richmond is a track where Kyle has historically done well at.
In his 26 career starts at RIR, Kyle has 5 wins, 16 Top 5 finishes, 19 Top 10 finishes, and an average finish of 7.2. He’s also never crashed out of a race as this track. Breaking it down further, Kyle has finished in the Top 61.5% of the time and 73.1% of the time he has cracked the Top 10.
In the spring Richmond race, Kyle Busch won after leading 32 laps. He’s easily the favorite heading into Saturday’s night race.
Last weekend, Harvick had an abysmal performance at Vegas with a 39th place showing. It dropped him down from 2nd to 4th in the playoff standings. Despite his poor showing, Harvick is still in a great position to make the 2nd round of the playoffs.
In 35 career RIR races, Harvick has 3 wins, 13 Top 5’s, 22 Top 10’s, an average finish of 10.3 and zero DNFs. Harvick has cracked the Top 10 in 63% of his races at Richmond and there’s no reason to think he can’t do it again. In the spring race, Harvick finished 5th and led for 8 laps.
It’s not a matter of “if” Kevin will bounce back this weekend, it’s a matter of whether or not he wins the race.
Of the Big 3, Truex had the best run last weekend at Vegas as he finished 3rd overall. Martin also led the most laps at 96 and earned a stage win. Truex now sits atop of the playoff standings and is looking solid for advancing to the next round. Unfortunately, Richmond hasn’t always been a favorable track for Truex Jr.
In 25 races at RIR, Truex has never won. He did snag the pole in the spring race, but ended up 14th overall. For his career at Richmond, Truex has just 2 Top 5’s and 8 Top 10’s. Martin also has 4 DNF’s and an average finish of 19.8.
Of the Big 3, Truex is in the most danger of losing playoff spots this weekend.
Larson came out strong in the opening round of the playoffs as he finished runner-up to Keselowski at Las Vegas last Sunday. Kyle also led for 24 races and let the rest of the postseason field know that he’s serious about contending for a championship. With his showing last weekend, Larson is now 8th in the standings.
In the spring Richmond race, Larson finished in 7th place. For his career, Larson has 1 win, 3 Top 5’s and 3 Top 10’s in 9 career starts at RIR. Larson won last year’s fall Richmond race and has an average finish of 10.0.
Will Kyle be able to continue his ascension up the postseason rankings?
Of all the playoff drivers, Hamlin needs a win in the worst way possible. Denny has struggled in 2018 so far, despite making the post season. Last weekend, he finished 32nd at Vegas and fell to 16th in the playoff standings. Fortunately for Denny, Richmond is a track that he has raced very well at in his career.
In 24 career starts, Hamlin has 3 wins, 11 Top 5’s and 15 Top 10’s. He finished 3rd in the spring race and has an average finish of 9.3, which is the second best average among all active drivers with 3 or more starts.
Hamlin has 6 straight Top 6 finishes at Richmond and needs to strong showing this weekend in order to move above the cutoff line for Round 2. Will Hamlin bounce back this weekend or will he put himself into a do-or-die position for the 3rd and final race of the opening round?
Based on their success at Richmond, and their current NASCAR odds, the following two drivers offer the best betting value this weekend for the Federated Auto Parts 400:
Kurt didn’t have a great run last weekend at Vegas. He finished 21st overall, in a pack with 3 other playoff drivers: Bowman, Johnson and Bowyer. Despite his middle of the pack placement, Kurt is still 6th in the playoff standings and well above the cutoff line for Round 2.
In 35 career starts at Richmond International Raceway, Kurt has 2 wins, 7 Top 5’s, and 15 Top 10’s. He also has 1 DNF and an average finish of 15th. Busch landed in 11th place during the spring race and hasn’t won at RIR since the spring race of 2015. Since then, he’s tallied 6 Top 15 finishes with his best placement being 4th in this race last year.
Kurt’s experience and tenacity make him a great betting value candidate for this weekend’s race.
Right now, Johnson is 6 points below the cutoff line and that’s largely due to his 22nd place showing at Vegas last weekend. However, he did move up 2 spots overall and now has a better shot at advancing to the second round than prior to Vegas. But, for JJ to solidify an advancement, he needs a strong run at Richmond this weekend.
In his 33 career RIR starts, Johnson has 3 wins, 7 Top 5’s, and 14 Top 10’s. He also has 1 DNF and an average finish of 15.3. JJ did finish 6th in the spring race at this track and has tallied 8 straight Top 11 finishes in Richmond. However, his last win at this track was the fall race of 2008. He hasn’t cracked the Top 3 since the spring race of 2015. But, if there’s anyone who can dig deep and run well at Richmond, it’s the former 7-time series champ.
Daniel Suarez at +10000 odds is a great option for the longshot bet of the race. Suarez has run 3 races at Richmond with an average finish of 9.7. He has 2 Top 10’s in 3 races and an average start of 17.7. Suarez’s worst showing was his rookie race at RIR where he finished 12th. Suarez is not in the playoffs, so he doesn’t have to worry about playoff points or stage wins. He’s free to gamble on tires and pit stops, where other drivers might not be. You combine that freedom with an average finish of 9.7, and he have a solid longshot worth taking a flier on.
One of the most exciting prop bets for NASCAR are head-to-head driver matchups. For this week, I really like the following matchups, courtesy of 5Dimes:
Neither of these drivers had a good showing last weekend at Vegas. Chase Elliott finished in 36th place, while Jones finished dead last. However, Elliott did finish 2nd in the spring race at Richmond while Jones finished 13th. Furthermore, Elliott (13.8) has a better average finish at this track than Jones (19).
In Chase’s 6 starts at RIR, he has 1 Top 5 and 2 Top 10’s. Jones has only 1 Top 10 at this track in 3 career races. I like Elliott’s overall consistency this year than Jones. Additionally, I like Elliott’s success at this track over Erik’s. I’m taking Chase to win this won pretty handedly.
I’m not picking on Erik Jones at all, but he doesn’t have the success or experience that other drivers have at this track. And this head-to-head matchup is a great example of that. Kurt has 35 career races compared to just 3 for Jones. Kurt has 2 wins, 7 Top 5’s, and 15 Top 10’s at this track. He also has an average finish of 15.3.
I believe Jones could rebound this weekend from the Vegas disaster, but I don’t see him cracking the Top 15, which Kurt will easily do. With the odds for Busch being at -115, I also feel that this offers great betting value as Kurt is a better driver at this track than Jones.
Typically, I try to avoid picking driver matchups that pit the Big 3 of NASCAR against each other because it has proven somewhat difficult to choose which of the 3 will win. But, this weekend’s race, I really like Kyle Busch to finish higher than Truex Jr.
Kyle has more wins (5 to 0), more Top 5’s (16 to 2) and more Top 10’s (19 to 8) than Truex Jr. Additionally, he has an average finish of 7.2 at this track compared to 19.8 for Martin. I not only believe that Kyle will win this head-to-head matchup, but I also believe he’s a serious contender for the checkered flag.
I believe that Jones, Bowman, and Dillon are going to be in big trouble after this race. I don’t see these eligible playoff drivers performing well at Richmond. I do see Harvick, Kyle Busch, Hamlin and Larson all finishing in the Top 5. Joining them will be Joey Logano who has an average finish of 11.4 at this track. He also has 2 wins, 8 Top 5’s, and 11 Top 10’s in 19 career starts at Richmond. Joey finished 4th here in the spring, runner up last year in the Federated Auto Parts 400, and won the 2017 spring race.
I see Johnson just cracking the Top 10 along with Elliott, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, and Kesewloski. I think Brad’s winning streak comes to an end this weekend, but he will still finish somewhere between 6th and 9th at Richmond.
Truex Jr. and Ryan Blaney will just miss the Top 10 this weekend despite their strong showings at Vegas last weekend. Blaney has an average finish of 28.6 at Richmond and, as mentioned above, Truex has a 19.8 average finish.
Harvick, Kyle Busch and Logano are the 3 drivers that I believe have the best chance at winning on Saturday. I think Logano offers the best value out of these 3 drivers and I wouldn’t be surprised if he won. But, the smart play is on Kyle Busch this weekend as he tends to dominate at RIR. I believe Rowdy will take the checkered flag and get his mojo back for the playoffs.
In no particular order, the following drivers are my picks to finish in the Top 5:
Winner: Kyle Busch (+250)
Betting Value: Kurt Busch (+2500) and Jimmie Johnson (+5000)
Longshot: Daniel Suarez (+10000)
The following is a list of fun facts for the Richmond International Raceway. These fun facts were compiled from various NASCAR resources:
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