Four drivers to watch at Richmond International Raceway

10-12 September, 2015, Richmond, Virginia USA Matt Kenseth, Dollar General Toyota Camry and Joey Logano © 2015, Nigel Kinrade NKP
© 2015, Nigel Kinrade, NKP

Submitted by Matt Lovisa (follow on Twitter)

September 8, 2016

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series are headed to Richmond International Raceway. This is the last race to make it into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase for the Sprint Cup and the second to last race before the Xfinity Series enters their first ever Chase format. Here are four drivers to watch this weekend.

Joey Logano

Logano has the best track record at Richmond International Raceway in his last four starts at the track with an average finish of 5.5. During that time he has scored two poles, two top five finishes and four top ten finishes and led 119 laps.

The past few races have seen the #22 Shell Pennzoil team finish up front but they have been missing that dominant race for quite some time. Logano has led more than 40 laps this season just twice, compared to 14 times to this point a year ago. Logano needs some momentum heading into the Chase and Richmond should be just the track to get some started.

20-22 April, 2016, Richmond, Virginia USA Chris Buescher © 2016, Nigel Kinrade NKP
© 2016, Nigel Kinrade, NKP

Chris Buescher

Buescher’s #34 CSX – Play it Safe Ford will be shown on the television a lot Saturday night. Why? He has a win and is currently sitting 30th in the point standings, the last position to qualify for the Chase.

Buescher is 11 points ahead of 31st, David Ragan, and would clinch a top 30 spot with no help by finishing in 7th with no laps led or 8th with at least one lap led. If Buescher can stay ahead of Ragan, he’s in or as long as Ragan finishes no more than 11 places on the track ahead of him without leading any laps.

Bottom line, we have seen crazier things happen in NASCAR so make sure to keep an eye on Buescher all race long.

Ryan Newman

Newman was sitting just seven points out of the final Chase for the Sprint Cup playoff spot after the race Sunday in Darlington. After a penalty, he now sits 22 points behind Jamie McMurray who holds that 16th and final spot.

Here’s the breakdown on what Newman needs to happen:

With a win, he would clinch a Chase spot on wins. He could clinch on points with help (would need to outpoint two of the following if there is a new winner, or one of the following if there is a repeat winner (or win by one of these drivers), McMurray by 22 or more points, Dillon by 32 or more points, Elliott by 40 or more points). If there is a repeat winner (or win by Elliott, Dillon, McMurray) and Chris Buescher falls out of the top 30, he would need 20 points (21st and no laps led, 22nd and led at least one lap, 23rd and led most laps) to clinch on points.

Got all that? Good, cause what you need to know is that Newman could very well surprise and run up front for a majority of the race, putting that pressure on McMurray to make a mistake.

Erik Jones

Jones arguably had the dominant Xfinity Series car at Richmond in the spring but was taken out during a restart after leading 17 laps. Jones has had success at Richmond in previous starts, finishing inside the top five in both races in 2015.

Jones has the most wins of Xfinity Series regulars this season with three but after Elliott Sadler’s second win at Darlington this past weekend, the momentum might be shifting from Jones’ Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to Sadler’s JR Motorsports Chevrolet.