NASCAR week off is spicing up Richmond

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After non-stop weekly NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing since early February, it was kind of a weird feeling as the series took Easter Weekend off.

And while I was ready for a little break during the week, when Sunday came around, I must say I really missed not having a race to watch. But if there was ever a track that was well worth the wait it’s definitely a Saturday night special at Richmond’s three-quarter mile layout where the racing is tight and the speeds are slow enough to allow drivers to feel not too bad about punting another.

Between the drivers getting after one another and the rowdy fans from the Capital of the Confederacy partying strong all weekend, there is always an electric buzz that translates well to television. Richmond also provides a great betting opportunity because it’s been fairly easy to predict just because of being able to utilize results from similar tracks already raced on during the season.

Richmond has it’s regulars who always seem to perform well there, but the better data has been to look at what happened at either Phoenix or New Hampshire in previous races. Phoenix and New Hampshire are both 1-mile tracks, but they are also flat and run similar.

Last season we saw Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards each win at both Phoenix and Richmond, and we’ve also seen Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2004), Kurt Busch (2005), Matt Kenseth (2002) do it, as well as Harvick again in 2006. Jimmie Johnson also did it twice in recent years (2007-08).

So if we go back to the March 2 race at Phoenix, we’ll see there were three drivers who dominated the afternoon – Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski to an extent. Harvick would lead a race-high four times for 224 of the 312 laps en route to the win, Logano, who finished fourth, would lead the next largest chunk of laps with 71. Earnhardt Jr. was second, Keselowski third, Jeff Gordon fifth and Johnson sixth.

Those top six Phoenix finishers also have been fast just about everywhere this season, and while Harvick may only be a meaningless 22nd in points, he leads the series with two wins, and probably could have had two other wins as well if his car didn’t have issues. The guy has routinely been one of the best during practice sessions this season.

Logano and Keselowski have been right there with Harvick in practices and each have wins already, while the top-two in points – Gordon and Kenseth – are still winless. Add Johnson to that group searching for win No. 1 of 2014 as well.

The only driver we haven’t talked about who has a great shot Saturday night is Kyle Busch. He won at least one race at Richmond for four straight seasons (2009-12) until finally getting slowed last season. But his 7.2 average finish is best among all active drivers. He finished ninth at Phoenix.

Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, one of The Linemakers on SportingNews.com , and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Follow Micah on Twitter @MicahRoberts7 Contact Micah at [email protected].

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