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Statistically Speaking

Toyota Owners 400 Stats

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

This week’s race: Toyota Owners 400
Traditional Name: Richmond 400
Other Notable Names: Pontiac Excitement 400, Chevy American Revolution 400, Crown Royal 400, Capital City 400 (historically the name of the fall race), Toyota Owners 400

The short track in Virginia’s capital city harkens back to April 1953 when Richmond Fairgrounds—a half-mile dirt track—hosted its first NASCAR event. Lee Petty scored his eighth win in that 200-lap affair. Fifteen years later it was paved over and his son Richard Petty won a 300-lapper. Some 20 years after that the track was reconfigured one more time as a .750-mile doglegged oval. There was still a Petty in the field, but Richard finished only 34th that day; Davey Allison won.

The track is in the same physical location as the two that went before it, but since undergoing such a massive transition in 1988, the only stats that are relevant are for the three-quarter mile version, which is plenty of data for fantasy owners since it predates all active racers.

In some ways, Richmond International Raceway is the perfect track. Because of its relatively wide corners and sweeping frontstretch, it has characteristics in common with unrestricted, intermediate speedways. The minimal banking in the turns makes it a flat track. And finally at less than a mile in length, it is a short track. Those track types combined make up nearly three-quarters of the schedule. That is one of the reasons this track is often part of a pre-rookie’s initiation. Chase Elliott will attempt to make his second Cup start this week.

The sum of the parts makes up an exciting whole—generally. Last fall several long green flag segments, mostly punctuated by cautions for something other than an accident, allowed the drivers to get separation from one another proving that strategy in NASCAR is always a moving target.

10 best drivers at Richmond

Over the past six races, these drivers have the best average finish on this track.

1. Jeff Gordon
Last six races average finish at Richmond: 8.00
Career avg. finish: 13.6 in 44 attempts

Based on his career average finish, Richmond has not always been one of Gordon’s favorite tracks. With a 13.6 average in 44 previous attempts it ranks 19th, but he has made up for any deficit in recent seasons. Last year he swept the runner-up position by finishing second to Joey Logano in the spring and again to Brad Keselowski in the fall. His second and latest win came in 2000, but he could add another this weekend after last week’s strong Bristol Motor Speedway run.

2. Kevin Harvick
Last six races average finish at Richmond: 9.50
Career avg. finish: 11.0 in 28 attempts

During the past two seasons, Harvick has dominated tracks where he traditionally struggled, so fantasy owners should pay attention when he actually gets to a course on which he has a stellar average finish. In his last six starts on this track he earned only two top-fives, but one of these was a victory in 2013.

3. Ryan Newman (tied with Earnhardt)
Last six races average finish at Richmond: 9.67
Career avg. finish: 11.2 in 26 attempts

Along with Gordon, Newman is one of two drivers with a current three-race, top-10 streak at Richmond and that leads the league. He also has the magical balance of speed and durability with a seven-race streak of lead lap finishes. The appeal for his tire doctoring penalties from Auto Club earlier this year will not be heard for a couple of weeks and that means this team will be intact for both Richmond and Talladega SuperSpeedway, so fantasy owners should make hay while the sun shines.

3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (tied with Newman)
Last six races average finish at Richmond: 9.67
Career avg. finish: 13.5 in 31 attempts

Earnhardt earned his second career victory at Richmond in his rookie season, but his overall record has been a little erratic through the years. Even his last three seasons have witnessed a mix of top-10s and results in the teens, but the cumulative effect that places him third on the three-year average finish grid proves that he has been consistent enough to be fantasy relevant.

5. Carl Edwards
Last six races average finish at Richmond: 10.83
Career avg. finish: 13.9 in 21 attempts

Eight of Edwards’ last 10 attempts at Richmond ended in top-10 finishes including a victory in fall 2013. His average would be much better if not for last fall’s effort when he simply lost the handle and slipped four laps off the pace to finish 22nd. It is difficult to trust Edwards at the moment because of his propensity to overdrive the car, but he will eventually become one of the marquee drivers and should be watched on courses where he has already shown dominance.

6. Brad Keselowski
Last six races average finish at Richmond: 11.83
Career avg. finish: 16.9 in 11 attempts

NASCAR is often most concerned with what a driver has done lately and Keselowski was one of the three strongest racers at Richmond last year. His sweep of the top five was arguably better than Gordon’s because he won the fall race, although the No. 24 had a better average finish than the No. 2. Along with his teammate Logano, these three drivers should make up the core of one’s roster.

7. Matt Kenseth
Last six races average finish at Richmond: 12.50
Career avg. finish: 16.3 in 30 attempts

Kenseth would be much higher on this list if not for a crash-induced 41st-place finish last fall in the Federated Auto Parts 400. Before that, he scored four straight top-10s and an 11th in the most recent five races. His victory at Bristol should re-invigorate this team and get them to the front of the pack once more.

8. Tony Stewart
Last six races average finish at Richmond: 13.00 (5 starts)
Career avg. finish: 11.2 in 31 attempts

Stewart’s place on this list was secured by a sweep of the top five in 2012. In the four races since then, he missed the show once due to injury and has only one top-15. The good news is that last week’s top-10 on another short track has this team heading in the right direction. A second single-digit result is not indicated, but a solid finish in the low teens will make him a good fantasy value.

9. Clint Bowyer (tied with Larson)
Last six races average finish at Richmond: 13.50 (2 starts)
Career avg. finish: 11.5 in 18 attempts

Bowyer has seen highs and lows at Richmond. He won the fall 2012 Federated Auto Parts 400 and finished second the next spring. He triggered “spin-gate” in fall 2013 which unleashed heavy fines by NASCAR for intentionally altering the end of a race and then broke a suspension after ignoring a flat tire the following spring. He finished fourth in last year’s regular season finale and that may put him back on the right course.

9. Kyle Larson (tied with Bowyer)
Last six races average finish at Richmond: 13.50 (2 starts)
Career avg. finish: 13.5 in 2 attempts

Richmond is Larson’s kind of track. The corners are comparatively wide and allow drivers to find the perfect groove. Despite having a top-10 average, Larson has not scored a top-10 finish just yet, but he has shown strength with qualification efforts on the first five rows in both of last year’s races.

Others of Note

11. Kasey Kahne
Last six races average finish at Richmond: 13.83
Career avg. finish: 17.7 in 22 attempts

Kahne has one victory and four top-fives at Richmond. Five of his last six efforts on this track ended on the lead lap, but he has continuously missed the top mark too often since joining Hendrick Motorsports to be part of the top 10. He will probably run just as well this week as he did at Bristol, but something luckless will likely send him home in the high teens or low 20s.

13. Joey Logano
Last six races average finish at Richmond: 14.33
Career avg. finish: 15.4 in 12 attempts

Logano is not part of this week’s top-10, but it is only a matter of time before that changes. He nearly swept the top five last year with a sixth in the fall and a victory in the spring. Another top-five in spring 2013 makes this a favorite track of his in recent seasons and he should be a lock to score one more on Saturday night.

17. Denny Hamlin
Last six races average finish at Richmond: 17.20 (five starts)
Career avg. finish: 10.4 in 17 attempts

With an average finish of 10.4 in 17 career attempts this track ranks third to Darlington Raceway and Martinsville Speedway for Hamlin. Fantasy owners do not need to look very far back at either of those other tracks to find success for the Virginia native and that takes precedence over Hamlin’s recent struggles on this course.

18. Martin Truex Jr.
Last six races average finish at Richmond: 17.50
Career avg. finish: 22.1 in 18 attempts

Bristol snapped a lot of streaks last week and Truex was one of the victims. That is more critical to his effort than it will be to either Harvick or Logano because this team was already punching above its weight. There is good news, however, and that comes in the form of back-to-back top-10s in fall 2013 and spring 2014.

21. Jimmie Johnson
Last six races average finish at Richmond: 18.50
Career avg. finish: 17.5 in 26 attempts

Johnson won three Richmond races in the four Richmond events of 2007 and 2008. Since then he has scored only one more top-five and it seems that every time he comes to this track, trouble waits for him. Five of his last seven efforts have been marred by crash damage, penalties, or tire failure. Last fall he was error-free and finished eighth. 

 

Rank

Driver

3 Yr Avg Finish

Attempts

1.

Jeff Gordon

8.00

6

2.

Kevin Harvick

9.50

6

3.

Ryan Newman

9.67

6

3.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

9.67

6

5.

Carl Edwards

10.83

6

6.

Brad Keselowski

11.83

6

7.

Matt Kenseth

12.50

6

8.

Tony Stewart

13.00

5

9.

Clint Bowyer

13.50

6

9.

Kyle Larson

13.50

2

 

11.

Kasey Kahne

13.83

6

11.

Jamie McMurray

13.83

6

13.

Joey Logano

14.33

6

14.

AJ Allmendinger

14.80

5

15.

Paul Menard

16.00

6

16.

Kurt Busch

16.17

6

17.

Denny Hamlin

17.20

5

18.

Martin Truex Jr.

17.50

6

19.

Aric Almirola

17.83

6

20.

Greg Biffle

18.17

6

21.

Jimmie Johnson

18.50

6

22.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

22.50

4

23.

Austin Dillon

23.50

2

24.

Justin Allgaier

24.50

2

25.

Casey Mears

26.00

6

26.

Landon Cassill

26.33

6

27.

Danica Patrick

27.25

4

28.

David Gilliland

27.67

6

29.

David Ragan

29.33

6

30.

Alex Bowman

33.00

2

31.

Michael Annett

35.00

2

32.

Josh Wise

36.67

6

33.

Reed Sorenson

37.00

5

33.

Cole Whitt

37.00

3

35.

JJ Yeley

40.00

6

36.

Mike Bliss

40.80

5

 

All Stats are for the current, 0.750-mile configuration only.

Exercise Caution

Most caution flags: 15 (3 times), 2011 Wonderful Pistachios 400, 2009 Crown Royal Russ Friedman 400, 2003 Pontiac Excitement 400
Fewest caution flags: 3 (5 times) 2010 Air Guard 400, 1997 Exide Batteries NASCAR 400, 1997 Pontiac Excitement 400, 1993 Pontiac Excitement 400, 1992 Miller Genuine Draft 400
Average number of caution flags per race: 8.6

Final Caution, last five races:
September 2015: Lap 331 of 400: Security (man climbed on top of the fence)
April 2014: Lap 386 of 400: oil on track
September 2013: Lap 394 of 400: 1-car spin in turn three (Clint Bowyer)
April 2013: Lap 396 of 406 (green-white-checkered): 1-car accident in turn three (Denny Hamlin)
September 2012: Lap 277 of 400 (rain)

Most caution laps: 103, 2002 Pontiac Excitement 400
Fewest caution laps: 12, 1997 Pontiac Excitement 400
Average number of caution laps per race: 52.5

Leading the way

Most leaders: 19, 2004 Chevy American Revolution 400
Fewest leaders: 2, 2014 Federated Auto Parts 400
Average number of leaders: 8.0

Most lead changes: 25 (2 times), 1996 Pontiac Excitement 400, 1991 Pontiac Excitement 400
Fewest lead changes: 4, 2008 Crown Royal Dan Lowry 400, 2014 Federated Auto Parts 400
Average number of lead changes: 15.5

Victory Lane

Last five winners at Richmond (starting position):
September 2014: Brad Keselowski (1)
April 2014: Joey Logano (17)
September 2013: Carl Edwards (26)
April 2013: Kevin Harvick (17)
September 2012: Clint Bowyer (4)
April 2012: Kyle Busch (5)

Worst starting position for race winner: 31st, Clint Bowyer 2008 Crown Royal 400

A race at Richmond has been won by the pole sitter 6 times and from the front row 10 times in 54 races.

Recent races won from the pole:
Brad Keselowski: 2014 Federated Auto Parts 400
Kyle Busch: 2010 Crown Royal Heath Calhoun 400
Jimmie Johnson: 2007 Chevy Rock & Roll 400
Kasey Kahne: 2005 Chevy American Revolution 400

Active winners at Richmond:
Kyle Busch: 4
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: 3
Kevin Harvick: 3
Jimmie Johnson: 3
Tony Stewart: 3
Clint Bowyer: 2
Jeff Gordon: 2
Denny Hamlin: 2
Kurt Busch: 1
Carl Edwards: 1
Kasey Kahne: 1
Matt Kenseth: 1
Joey Logano: 1
Ryan Newman: 1
Brad Keselowski: 1

First time winners at Richmond:
2005: Kasey Kahne, Chevy American Revolution 400
1999: Tony Stewart, Exide NASCAR Select Batteries 400

Running at the End

The following active drivers have been running at the end of every Richmond race they started:
Matt Kenseth (30)
Kevin Harvick (28)
Ryan Newman (26)
Kyle Busch (19)
Denny Hamlin (17)
Paul Menard (16)
David Ragan (16)
Landon Cassill (9)
Aric Almirola (6)
Danica Patrick (4)
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (4)
Justin Allgaier (2)
Michael Annett (2)
Alex Bowman (2)
Austin Dillon (2)
Brendan Gaughan (2)
Kyle Larson (2)

Brad Keselowski blew an engine and failed to finish in 2009, but he has been running at the end of 11 races since.

Great Starts

Active drivers with top-10s in their first start on this track:
Denny Hamlin: second (2006)
Ryan Newman: second (2002 – both races)
Carl Edwards: sixth (2004)
Jeff Gordon: sixth (1993 and top-10s in next three)
Clint Bowyer: 10th (2006)
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: 10th (1999)

 

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.