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Federated Auto Parts 400

Race: Federated Auto Parts 400 Preview and Picks to Win the Race
Date: Saturday September 9, 2017
Track: Richmond Raceway
Time: 7:30pm ET
TV: NBCSN

by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper, Predictem.com

Well, Denny Hamlin managed to pull off the win at Darlington for a second time this season. He won the Xfinity race on Saturday, giving him a lot of seat time to really hone in on the tricks of Darlington. He made a rookie mistake by missing pit road with only 54 laps to go, although in his defense, Darlington has one of the trickiest pit roads to get onto. When he missed pit road, he ended up significantly behind Truex Jr., who ended his evening by smacking the wall, causing a flat tire with just a few laps left. It was a disappointment for the driver, who had such a strong night going. Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Austin Dillon, and rookie Erik Jones rounded out the top five. Martin Truex Jr. managed a top ten finish despite his woes there at the end.

Perhaps the most interesting story, though, were the penalties that came out Tuesday. While Hamlin took the victory, he was handed an L1 penalty for a rear suspension issue. This resulted in a $50,000 penalty to crew chief Mike Wheeler along with a 2 race suspension. NASCAR also anointed a loss of 25 driver and owner points. Maybe even more interesting is that Hamlinís win in the Xfinity series was ruled encumbered, also with a loss of 25 owner points and a suspension for their crew chief along with a $25,000 fine. The infraction was the same as from the Cup Series. This type of thing boils my blood a little bit. Obviously, the teams were trying something. Whether or not they knew they were in violation is up to your own interpretation, but coincidence? I think not.

Despite Hamlinís short comings this weekend in the suspension department, we are headed to a track that he does well at. Richmond is our final race of the regular season. Even with this race left, Martin Truex Jr. has clinched the regular season championship, putting him ahead of the game when it comes to the start of the Chase. Heís got nothing to lose at this point. The driver with everything to lose is Clint Bowyer, who must win this weekend to get in the Chase. Ironically, Richmond is one of his best tracks, so weíll see how he pulls this one out. RIR is a long short track. Itís bigger than Martinsville and Bristol, leaving the drivers with the option of a little more speed and a little less brake. It comes in at a ĺ mile D-shaped asphalt oval. The banking is in between Martinsville and Bristol as well. The turns bring us 14 degrees. The frontstretch comes in at 8 degrees, and the backstretch is a minimal 2 degrees. Track position is a pretty big deal here. The drivers who can get out front tend to stay there and can pull away from the field, which is harder to do on other short tracks.

Richmond is a veteranís friend. Itís a bit unique in its configuration, being much different than the quirkiness of Martinsville and Bristol. That being said, I think we should expect to see drivers like Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Jamie McMurray really pushing for the wins. This race will bring a lot of diversity in terms of what each person can get out of it. There are drivers like Bowyer fighting for their spot in the Chase, this being their last opportunity. There are other drivers fighting for stage points to use during the Chase. There are also those drivers like Patrick who have absolutely nothing to lose because they arenít really in the realm of getting into the Chase, but would certainly love that win at any cost. It will be interesting to see if any of the teams drastically change any of their strategy based on their current position heading into this last race. Letís take a look at your potential winners for this weekendís race at Richmond:

My Pick to Win: Denny Hamlin
Middle of the Road Pick: Clint Bowyer
Dark Horse Prediction: Erik Jones. Bet YOUR Federated Auto Parts 400 predictions at a sportsbook that takes credit cards for deposits and that will give you a 100% bonus up to $250 in free betting tickets: Bovada Sportsbook!

I canít say enough about the consistency of Erik Jones and what a strong driver this guy is. Heís coming into Richmond with 3 straight top 5 finishes. This kid has what it takes to get around any track. Look for him to really push the boundaries this weekend at Richmond. Bowyer is a 2 time winner at Richmond and is a strong short track driver. With this being his only guarantee into the Chase, you better believe heís going to give it everything heís got. Finally, Hamlin is the defending winner of this race. It doesnít hurt coming in with the momentum from his win at Darlington either. Look for Hamlin to defend his title this weekend.

Here are your current top 16 after last week's race:

1. Martin Truex Jr.
2. Kyle Busch
3. Kyle Larson
4. Kevin Harvick
5. Denny Hamlin
6. Brad Keselowksi
7. Chase Elliott
8. Matt Kenseth
9. Jamie McMurray
10. Jimmie Johnson
11. Clint Bowyer
12. Ryan Blaney
13. Kurt Busch
14. Erik Jones
15. Joey Logano
16. Ryan Newman

Itís do or die time for these guys. There are a lot of different scenarios that are going to play out this weekend since there are so many different agendas among the teams. I imagine this short track night race as being one of best races of the season. The night racing seems to bring out the personalities of these drivers in ways we donít typically see. Along with that, the pressure of the win is huge. Stay tuned for an awesome night race this weekend as we close out the regular season at Richmond International Raceway! For the largest variety of NASCAR bet offerings, get signed up at 5Dimes! Not only do they have TONS of offerings; they offer cheaper/discounted odds than you'll find elsewhere!

Free Picks

Virginia Vroom's Picks - Most people think Danica Patrick is auto racing's most popular female. We have something to say about that! She can flat out pick'em!

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