Kyle Looks to Keep Winning
Kyle Busch picked up another win at Bristol, his 2nd in a row and his career-best 6th straight top-3 finish. Busch won 3 straight races in 2015, but since then, has finished outside the top 20 in his last 3 races when coming off consecutive wins.
Busch could become the 5th driver since 1980 with multiple 3-race win streaks, joining Rusty Wallace (3 times), Jeff Gordon (3 times), Dale Earnhardt (twice) and Jimmie Johnson (twice). He'll also become the 2nd driver this season with a 3-race win streak, as Kevin Harvick also pulled off the feat. The only other time in the last 25 seasons that multiple drivers had a 3-race win streak in a season was when Busch and Joey Logano did it in 2015 (Busch won the championship that season).
Busch is now moving from the track where he has his most Cup Series wins (7 at Bristol) to his 2nd-most (4 at Richmond). His 7.4 average finish is his 2nd-best at any Cup track (5.1 at Kentucky), and the 3rd-best all-time at the track among drivers with at least 10 starts. He's also been at his best in the spring race at the track.
Gibbs Works on the Next 150
Last week at Bristol, Joe Gibbs Racing picked up its 150th NASCAR Cup Series win, becoming the 3rd team to hit that mark. They won't move any higher than that in the near future (99 wins behind 2nd-place Hendrick Motorsports), but they could pick up another win on the short track at Richmond. Over the last 10 seasons, no team has won half as many short-track races than Gibbs.
Gibbs has 2 of the 4 active drivers with at least 3 career Richmond wins, Busch and Virginia native Denny Hamlin, who has finished 6th or better in each of his last 5 races at the track.
At Lot Has Changed in 1 Year for Logano
Last year, Joey Logano won this race, his 8th finish of 6th or better in 9 races to start the season. But a rule violation found after the race (rear suspension) meant that NASCAR "encumbered" the win, meaning his win and subsequent bonus points wouldn't be counted towards playoff eligibility. Logano's season fell apart after that, and he missed the postseason.
Although he hasn't returned to victory lane this year, Logano's season is starting much better than his 2017 ended. He has 7 top-10 finishes in 8 races and sits 2nd in points behind Kyle Busch.
Expect a Tight Finish at Richmond
Last week at Bristol, Kyle Busch made the race-winning pass on Kyle Larson with 6 laps to go. It was a nice change of pace, because in the previous 6 races, the final pass for the lead came with an average of 43 laps to go. It could be another tight finish at Richmond, as 5 of the 10 races at the track since the 2013 season have been decided with a pass with 5 or fewer laps to go.
The average margin of victory (for 9 races under green flag) at Richmond since 2013 has been 0.724 seconds. That's the 4th-smallest among the 23 tracks that have hosted Cup races in that time, and 2nd-smallest among non-restrictor plate tracks (Daytona and Talladega).
4 Drivers Dash for Cash at Richmond
For a 2nd straight week, 4 XFINITY Series regulars will be racing for $100,000 bonus at Richmond. The highest finisher among Justin Allgaier, Daniel Hemric, Elliott Sadler and Spencer Gallagher will get a $100,000 bonus. Last week's bonus winner, Ryan Preece, will not run this week, otherwise he would've been eligible.
Due to the Dash 4 Cash program, no Cup regulars can run at Richmond, much like at Bristol. That's helped there be 7 different winners in 7 races this season. That's the longest streak of different winners to start an XFINITY Series season since 2006 (8).
Who's Hot and Who's Not - Richmond
• Kyle Busch: 6 straight top-3 finishes; longest single-season streak in playoff era (since 2004)
• Denny Hamlin: finished 6th or better in last 5 Richmond races (7 top 5s in 1st 18 career Richmond races)
• Alex Bowman: 1st career top-5 finish in 89 career starts last week at Bristol
• Brad Keselowski: led more than 100 laps in 4 of last 9 Richmond races; leads all drivers with 773 laps led at Richmond in last 9 races (351 more than 2nd-place Kurt Busch
• Joey Logano: 8 straight top-10 finishes at Richmond (defending race winner)
• Martin Truex Jr.: 1 top-5 finish in last 19 Richmond races
• Ryan Blaney: finished 18th or worse in all 4 career Cup Series races at Richmond; 30.2 Avg finish is his worst at any track
• Jimmie Johnson: winless in last 31 Cup Series races overall, and last 18 races at Richmond
• Chase Elliott: 1 top-5, 18.1 Avg finish in 8 races this season (3 top 5's, 7.9 Avg finish at this time last season
• Kasey Kahne: 0 top-15 finishes this season (1st year with Leavine Family Racing), 29th in Cup Series points
--- ESPN Stats & Info ---