After a rare week off for NASCAR Sprint Cup racing, only Kevin Harvick takes two wins to Richmond International Raceway for the Richmond 400 on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET in Virginia.
Harvick and team broke the seven-race streak of unique NSCS winners by winning his second race of 2014 at Darlington. The next few races will tell if the new Chase format will propel other drivers without a win to Victory Lane.
It’s apparent that drivers and teams have changed strategy once they get an important win that virtually qualifies them for Chase elimination contention. Sixteen spots expand contender reality.
That first win is premium, and that next attempt at a win appears to foster more risky pit choices and more bold calls later also. That can change much for potential winners in competitive action.
Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth sit on top of the NSCS leader board with good results for 2014, but zero wins for their efforts. Whether Richmond will change that for either will take a green flag and a checker flag.
A select group of leaders—Gordon, Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch and Harvick—shared their thoughts about racing one of the shorter tracks on the circuit. Many drivers enjoy racing on the .75-mile track with 14-degree banking.
Gordon and team 24 and Kenseth with team 20 need to add a win to their point leads and both shared their take on the next race.
Gordon explained Richmond's difficulty.
“Richmond always presents the teams with a challenge because it’s a guessing game,” Gordon said. “We do our race runs and our qualifying practice runs during the day, but the race is at night on Saturday.”
Kenseth pointed out more about the popular track.
“Richmond is a great racetrack from a design standpoint, Kenseth said. “Everyone is close to the action, and it’s a fast track that gets slick quickly, so you need to work on managing your tires there throughout the weekend.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. noted some important details as well.
“Saturday, everybody's going to be hunting for the bottom line,” Earnhardt said. “The guys that get through the middle, can keep that left-front working that line, are going to have good runs. If you get off the bottom, so slick, you can't make any ground up there.”
Kyle Busch shared technical aspects of the fast, short track.
“The consensus of Richmond is, of course, just trying to get your car to turn, but also having really good forward bite,” Busch said. “You have to be able to get off the corners at Richmond. You have to have good brakes, as well, and be able to turn the center.”
Harvick also defined the action on the track.
“Richmond is where the tires wear out a lot and it’s very line-sensitive,” Harvick said. “You’ve got to work on running well against the bottom of the racetrack, and trying to find grip for the front tires to turn and find grip on the exit of the corner, as well.”
Kenseth pointed out more positives about RIR.
“It’s a fun track from the driver’s perspective, and from the fan’s perspective. I think it’s one of the favorites on the circuit.”
Fun appears to be on the agenda in Richmond, even if the night doesn't include grasping the checkered flag.
FYI WIRZ is the select presentation of topics by Dwight Drum at Racetake.com. Unless otherwise noted, information and all quotes were obtained firsthand or from official release materials provided by sanction and team representatives.