The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series continues on at Richmond International Raceway over the weekend at the Toyota Owners 400, and it's shaping up favorably for a short list of standouts.
Some race tracks and speedways are geared toward certain drivers more than others, and this unique short track fits the bill of the following drivers enough to prove that they are worth watching for on Saturday.
Richmond has the reputation for being a quick-paced, action-packed race, and this year should be no different.
Darrell Waltrip of Fox Sports talked about what makes Richmond so much fun:
There's literally not another track out there like it. This is a fast racetrack with a lot of room to race which I know must sound ironic when you're talking about a track that's only three-quarters in length.
There's a lot of room in the turns to move around. There's that big sweeping front straightaway that gives you some options to get around the competitors. It actually is pretty tight coming off Turn 2 and we always see a lot of action there. It's just a case of not enough real estate basically. You come out of that corner, you run out of banking and the walls right there.
Richmond really is a track that has everything a driver likes. It's fast and hard to drive. It's tight and a lot of fun. By nature drivers like to be aggressive and you can definitely do that at Richmond. One things for sure the fans in the grandstand and at home certainly get their money's worth when it comes to the racing here.
Let's break down who best fits the mold for this track and everything else you need to know for Saturday's race. Qualifying was rained out on Friday, putting rookie driver Kyle Larson on the pole for having the best practice lap in the field. Larson talked to ESPN about his feelings on landing the pole:
"I'm still happy," he said Friday. "But yeah it would be nice to get a legit pole. I don't know if we would have gotten it had it not rained."
When the team worked on qualifying in the final practice session, "We were seven-tenths slower than our lap that we laid down in first practice and almost two-and-a-half tenths slower than the fastest guy in second practice. I doubt we would have been on the pole, but I will take it how we get it."
NASCAR Sprint Cup at Richmond Info
When: Saturday, April 26 at 7 p.m. ET
Where: Richmond International Raceway, Richmond, Va.
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go
|Toyota Owners 400 Qualifying Order|
The full lineup can be found here.
Drivers to Watch
There's no driver in the Sprint Cup Series who demands more attention in Richmond than Kyle Busch.
With four career victories at the race track, he ranks at the top among active drivers. He's finished in the top 20 in all but one of his 18 career appearances there, and he knows the rigors of the short track more than anyone.
He also looks to be in pretty good form as of late. Busch was right in the thick of things during the Daytona 500, leading some laps and even hanging around in fourth place heading down the stretch before his wreck with Kevin Harvick. A big finish there would have make his name crop up even more heading into Richmond.
After years of coming up short in the Sprint Cup race, Busch is undoubtedly fired up to make 2014 his year, and it could start in a big way with a win at Richmond.
The ultra-competitive and fiery Clint Bowyer embarks upon Richmond looking for a season-altering victory and some momentum heading into the meat of the Sprint Cup.
Getting into the third pole position spot, Bowyer will be able to start off strong and get into the lead, race from the front and possibly figure out a way to win this thing.
Bowyer boasts two career victories at Richmond International Raceway and has 14 top-20 finishes in 16 appearances there. He's proven that when he gets into position at Richmond, he can be deadly; it's just a matter of getting into those positions.
With Bowyer starting out with a favorable pole position, he could end up cruising to victory.
He's hardly been a name to watch for in auto racing other than watching for his return from a broken leg injury, but Tony Stewart looks poised to put a stamp on his return with a Sprint Cup win.
There's no better place for him to do so than in Richmond. He has three career victories there, and if he had locked up the 2012 spring race there, he would be able to rival Kyle Busch's four Richmond wins that lead all active drivers.
It's been a long road back to the track for Stewart, but all of that will come full circle with a win of this magnitude. He has been fighting to get back to this spot and won't be taking it lightly when he goes around the track for the first time.