For a lot of drivers, Richmond is a special place. Quite a few current drivers have won races there, some have won more than once. I always enjoy watching races at Richmond because it's a unique track, 3/4 mile in length, and has seen some wild races in the past.
Drivers who have won at Richmond include Kurt Busch, Mark Martin, Jeff Burton, Kyle Petty, Ryan Newman, Jeremy Mayfield, Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne, Kevin Harvick, and Joe Nemechek. Each have a win at Richmond. There are a lot of other winners at Richmond, but these are some of the current drivers who have wins at the track.
Some current drivers have more than one win at the track, and with two wins each would include Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Dale Jarrett. Dale won't be driving Richmond this year, so we can safely count him out on a third win this year.
Two current drivers have won 3 times at Richmond, and they were both important figures in last week's Talladega race. I'm talking, of course, about Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Richmond has been a great track for both of these drivers, and as strong as both drivers have been running lately, that trend is likely to continue for the Richmond race. Toyota teams have been strong right out of the box, and Chevrolet teams are getting better and better, especially the Hendrick team.
I can't rule out another rogue win by Carl Edwards this week, or a win by one of his Ford brethren, but I'm looking mostly at what the Toyota and Chevrolet teams will be doing. Dodge might make a run at it too, so who knows what will happen.
Right now the top rated teams by driver, and by manufacturer would have to be Chevrolet's Jeff Burton, Toyota's Kyle Busch, Ford's Greg Biffle, and Dodge's Ryan Newman. I'm just looking at total points here, not wins or anything else.
Will Richmond be another win for Toyota? Personally I hope not. I'm beginning to believe the talk that Toyota is enjoying a horsepower advantage, after the dismal performance they showed in 2007. Toyota has either really brought their game to the track, or Nascar allowed them some extra HP. It's that simple. The fact that Joe Gibbs Racing converted to Toyota for this season helped a lot, but I find it hard to believe that it helped that much. Toyota has to be making more horsepower than any other engines out there. I'm just saying!
And finally, in a new idea to include into the blog, I delve into the mailbag, or actually the e-mail bag, and take a question. And I'll try to answer it. Honest, I will!
Jason L. from Omaha, Nebraska asks "Why does Nascar pull out the yellow flag so much? Most of the time, we don't even see the stuff on the track! Do they do that to try to help certain drivers who need a pit stop?"
Jason, my best answer is that Nascar will always throw a yellow flag if they are concerned about safety. Debris on the track usually means cut tires and a car goes hard into the wall. Metal debris on the track will cut tires like you or I cut into a steak. As for do they do it for certain drivers? I doubt it. When certain drivers complain about debris, they probably listen more than they listen do over drivers, but there is not much objectivity in Nascar, it would seem. Certain drivers get more attention than do others, but there's not a whole heck of a lot we can do about it. If Jeff Gordon starts screaming about debris all over the race track, Nascar probably pays attention. If Regan Smith starts screaming about it, they probably don't pay as much attention. It's not really fair, but that's most likely the way it is. Nascar does monitor the communications between driver and spotter and crew chief, and I'm guessing that Nascar probably has thrown the yellow several times over the last few years, based on what a driver or spotter says. I don't think it's right, but it probably does happen.
I hope that answers your question, Jason. I'd like to make this a weekly feature, and if you'll just send your questions to email@example.com, I'll be happy to answer, either publicly, as on this blog, or privately, at your discretion. I'm not an expert, but I've been watching for a long time, and I study the science of Nascar. All opinions are MY opinions, but if you ask, I will answer.
Have a great race weekend!