NASCAR Sprint Cup series roars into Richmond

Apr 26, 2011 6:02 AM

We get some good old fashioned Saturday night special racing this week as the NASCAR Sprint Cup series roars into Richmond.

For some reason the freaks come out at night on the short tracks and we’re not talking about just the fans. The drivers themselves turn from mild mannered corporate spokesmen into road ragers trying to even a score from a scrape a few laps back.

All this plays out nicely for the rowdy fans in attendance and those at home watching on television as rivalries are created and scores are settled right in front of our eyes. Richmond never disappoints.

The driver everyone will likely be chasing this week is Kyle Busch who has won this spring race the last two seasons. In addition to being runner-up on four occasions, Busch has finished outside the top-five only twice in his 12 starts with no finish worse than 20th.

Busch’s teammate could definitely use some Richmond love. Denny Hamlin finished last season as the runner-up in points, but currently sits 17th in points. It’s like he’s had a hangover from blowing the championship that still is lingering, which no aspirin can cure.

The native Virginian should love the home cooking he’ll get this week because he’s won the last two Richmond fall races. Perhaps the week off for Easter can shake things up for him this week.

Jimmie Johnson is a three-time Richmond winner – the last coming in 2008, but he’s also had some rough times there with six finishes of 25th or worse. After winning at Talladega, Johnson now finds himself sitting second in points, just five behind Carl Edwards. Based on the results from the similar track of Phoenix in Week 2 where Johnson finished third, we should expect something close or better.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 10th at Phoenix and it began a succession of seven straight races where he hasn’t finished worse than 12th. Because of that consistency, Junior now finds himself third in points. He’s a three-time winner at Richmond who just might find a way to sneak into the winner’s circle and end his 101 race winless streak.

Jeff Gordon ended a long winless streak of his own at Phoenix and should be able to contend for his third career Richmond win this week. His last win came in 2000 at Richmond making it quite a drought, but the Phoenix angle should be the most important one used here.