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Sprint Cup drivers to watch at Richmond


during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 17, 2016 in Bristol, Tennessee.

Matt Sullivan

Here’s a look at a few drivers to keep an eye on this weekend at Richmond International Raceway:

  • Matt Kenseth has been a steady frontrunner as of late at Richmond. In his last 7 races at RIR, Kenseth has posted one win, six top 10s, and an average finish of 10.3 – which is weighed down by a 41st-place finish in the fall 2014 race. Throw that finish out, and the average is a 5.2. Kenseth was also among those that did the RIR tire test last month.
  • Brad Keselowski has led 648 laps over four of the last five Richmond races (he led 0 laps last fall in a run to eighth place, which was his third Richmond top-10 in the last four races).
  • Joey Logano is the only driver to earn top-10 finishes in each of the last four Richmond races. Over that span, he’s led 165 laps and has had the best average finish (3.8) and third-best average start (6.0).
  • Carl Edwards and Ryan Newman are the only drivers with top 10s in both short track races this season. Edwards has finished sixth and first, while Newman’s finished 10th and ninth.
  • Defending RIR spring winner Kurt Busch is tied with Dale Earnhardt Jr. for second-best average finish on short tracks this season at 8.0.
  • Three of the four Joe Gibbs Racing drivers – Edwards, Kyle Busch, Kenseth - have combined to lead 81.5 percent of the laps (815 of 1000) in the short track races this season.
  • The only JGR driver who hasn’t led on the short tracks this year is Denny Hamlin, who has won seven Sprint Cup races in his home state of Virginia – including two at Richmond. However, he hasn’t won there since 2010 and his sixth-place showing last fall was his first top-10 finish there since Spring 2012. In the last six RIR races, he’s posted an average finish of 18.3.