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NASCAR Cup drivers to watch at Richmond

The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Richmond Raceway for Sunday’s race (3 p.m. ET, USA Network).

This is the second race of the season at the .75-mile Virginia track. Kyle Larson won there on April 2. Six different drivers have won the last six Richmond races.

Five races remain until the Cup playoffs begin. Here is a look at the drivers to keep an eye on Sunday afternoon:


Martin Truex Jr.

Points position: 1st

Best finish this season: 1st (Dover, Sonoma, New Hampshire)

Past at Richmond: Truex has three career wins at Richmond (2019 sweep, 2021). Challenged for the lead during the final stage in April but fell from third to 11th after restarting on scuffed tires. Led 1,293 total laps in the past 13 Richmond races. Returns to Richmond amid a three-win season.

Kyle Larson

Points position: 7th

Best finish this season: 1st (Richmond I, Martinsville I)

Past at Richmond: Larson has two career wins at Richmond (2017, 2023) and three top-10 finishes in the past four races. Led 93 laps at Richmond this season. Only failed to finish one of his 17 career starts.

Kevin Harvick

Points position: 8th

Best finish this season: 2nd (Darlington I)

Past at Richmond: Harvick has four career wins at Richmond (2006, ’11, ’13, ’22) and a career average finish of 9.5. Has 12 top-10 finishes in the last 14 races. Could be one of the best opportunities for Harvick to win a race in his final Cup season.

Denny Hamlin

Points position: 3rd

Best finish this season: 1st (Kansas I, Pocono)

Past at Richmond: Hamlin has four Richmond Cup wins (2009, ’10, ’16, ’22) with 17 top-five finishes in 33 career starts. Has completed 99.9% of the laps at Richmond (13,211 of 13,223). Had the lead on the final restart in April 2021, but Alex Bowman passed him on the inside and went on to win. Hamlin won at Pocono last week and set himself up for another deep playoff run.


Kyle Busch

Points position: 6th

Best finish this season: 1st (Fontana, Talladega, Gateway)

Past at Richmond: Six Richmond Cup wins (2009, ’10, ’11, ’12, ’18 sweep) with Joe Gibbs Racing. Had 10 consecutive top-10 finishes between 2017-22. Finished 14th in April after joining Richard Childress Racing. The No. 8 team has struggled at short tracks this season, but Busch is the Richmond master after failing to complete only one lap in 35 starts. This week’s race will be a benchmark test.

Bubba Wallace

Points position: 15th

Best finish this season: 4th (Las Vegas I, Kansas I, Charlotte)

Past at Richmond: Made 10 career starts with a career-best finish of 12th in 2019. Finished 13th last season but 22nd in April’s race. Wallace is 27 points above the cutline with five races remaining in the regular season. Richmond and Michigan are his opportunities to stockpile points before back-to-back road courses where he has struggled with consistency.

Chase Elliott

Points position: 21st

Best finish this season: 2nd (Fontana)

Past at Richmond: Made 14 starts with a career-best finish of second in 2018 and an average finish of 11.1. Missed the April race while recovering from a fractured tibia. Josh Berry finished second on pit strategy. Elliott has three top-five finishes in his past five starts at Richmond. Hendrick Motorsports only has 12 Richmond Cup wins, 10 of which were between 1986-2008. Bowman’s win in 2021 and Larson’s win in April are the exceptions.

Michael McDowell

Points position: 16th

Best finish this season: 4th (Atlanta II)

Past at Richmond: Finished sixth in April after using pit strategy to gain track position. This was his first top-10 finish in 24 Cup starts at Richmond. Had nine DNFs in his first 10 starts. Holds the final playoff spot by 17 points. How he performs in the Richmond return could be a pivotal factor in whether he makes the playoffs.