Previewing the Matthew and Daniel Hansen 400
by Matt Taliaferro and Nathan Rush
Location: Richmond, Va.
Specs: .75-mile D-shaped oval; Banking/Turns: 14°; Banking/Fronstretch: 8°; Banking/Backstretch: 2°
2010 Winners: Kyle Busch (May), Denny Hamlin (September)
2011 Race Length: 300 miles/400 laps
Track Qualifying Record: 129.983 mph (Brian Vickers, 2004)
Race Record: 109.047 mph (Dale Jarrett, 1997)
From the Spotter's Stand
Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin did it again, splitting the Richmond runs in deja vu all over again fashion. For the second straight year, Rowdy won in May and Denny celebrated a September win - only this time, with Busch on his bumper as the runner-up.
Each thoroughly dominated his respective race. A pole-sitting Busch led 226 laps to outrace runner-up Jeff Gordon (144 laps led) on a restart with five to go. Meanwhile, Hamlin led 251 laps to edge out Busch and rival Jimmie Johnson to clinch the top seed in the Chase in the final race of the “regular season.”
Don't be surprised if the Joe Gibbs duo is roaring at Richmond for a third straight year in 2011.
Crew Chief's Take
“Getting the car to roll through the center of the corner is the key to a fast lap at Richmond. While that tends to cause a drop in speed off the corner, a car that turns well in the center uses less brake, and that's a good thing on a short track where brakes can get hot. Most teams run a short track brake package even though Richmond runs faster than its 3⁄4-mile layout suggests.
“If you want to talk about a balance between what the drivers like and what the fans like, Richmond probably strikes the best balance in NASCAR. There aren't many races that teams look forward to more.”
Looking at Checkers: Kyle Busch has averaged a 2.25-place finish at RIR over the last two seasons.
Pretty Solid Pick: If Denny Hamlin is to get his season on track, this is the place where it needs to happen.
Good Sleeper Pick: Marcos Ambrose was 11th in his first whirl around RIR and ran ninth and fifth in 2010.
Runs on Seven Cylinders: It's been tough sleeding thus far for Jamie McMurray, and Richmond isn't going to help.
Insider Tip: Junior raves about this joint, and Steve Letarte knows how to tune the car here.
Classic Moments at Richmond
The old .542-mile Richmond Fairgrounds layout is home to an early season shocker on Feb. 21, 1982, in the Richmond 400.
A crash by leader Joe Ruttman on lap 244 brings out the caution, and the leaders head to pit road - except for one. With thick, black clouds in the area, Dave Marcis' crew chief, Jerry Darling, instructs his fourth-place driver to stay out as Richard Petty, Benny Parsons and Dale Earnhardt pit.The strategy works, as the sky opens and a torrential rain falls, forcing NASCAR to call the event.
“During the red flag I didn't exactly pray for the rain to continue,” Marcis says. “But I said if the Good Lord ever wanted to help a poor ol' independent driver who fields his own cars and builds his engines, then this was His chance.”