Crown Royal Presents the Matthew and Daniel Hansen 400 Picks – Race Analysis

Race: Crown Royal presents the Matthew and Daniel Hansen 400
Date: Saturday April 30th, 2011
Track: Richmond International Raceway
Time: 7:30 pm ET
Channel: FOX
by Virginia Brumer, NASCAR Handicapper,

Now Superspeedways are great and everything, but who doesn’t love a short track?? We are heading to Richmond International Raceway this weekend for another great short track race in Virginia. As a matter of fact, I will be in Richmond! It’s going to be awesome! Not only do short tracks bring all the action, but they are some of the best tracks to be at because there is not a single bad seat. You can see everything and everyone from virtually anywhere at Richmond, which is much the same at the smaller counterpart of Martinsville.

While Richmond may not have the Martinsville hotdog, it sure does have the same amount of bumpin’ and grindin’ action around the track. This D-shaped oval is relatively flat as well with only 8 degree banking on the frontstretch, 2 degrees on the backstretch, and 14 degrees in the turns. The frontstretch is 1290 feet with the backstretch coming in at 860 feet.

This track is one of the best, bringing history just like Martinsville. Richmond was completed back in 1946 and has brought loads of action every single year since.

Here’s the difference between a track like this one and one like Talladega that we were at a few weeks ago: starting position and track position. We saw guys like the entire Hendrick team fall into the 20s and even 30s in their position during Talladega and those 4 cars were all competitors during the last lap. At a track like Richmond, it’s important to be up front and stay up front. Looking at starting position and winners, most winners start within the top 10. A few have been within the top 15 and even fewer outside of that range. Tires are also important here, but not nearly as important as that track position. Fuel mileage is again something to watch.

Looking at past winners, we see Virginia boy Denny Hamlin as the defending champ with multiple wins here. Of course, Kyle Busch has his fair share of wins along with Jimmie Johnson (of course!). If we pay attention to how these guys are running this year, I think that we have to look at our most consistent. Of that group of people, we need to keep our eyes on Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, and Kyle Busch. That being said, although Denny Hamlin has had his fair share of bad luck, we certainly can not rule him out here. If he’s going to do well anywhere, it’s going to be here. Now, at this particular track, although there have been consistent guys, I am going to group the most promising just for Richmond. Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are the ones to watch. As far as a winner goes this weekend, I am going to go out on a limb and go with my gut instinct of Dale Earnhardt Jr. going back to victory lane.

Although it’s been a while, he has definitely had a great run of luck lately and his new crew chief, Steve Letarte, seems to be a great match for this team. It may be just what they need to get that win, and Jr. has seen wins here too. Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, and basically the rest of the Hendrick team are going to be strong contenders, but I know no one would hate it to see Jr. win.

Here’s a recap of your top 10 in the points:

1. Carl Edwards
2. Jimmie Johnson
3. Dale Earnhardt. Jr.
4. Kevin Harvick
5. Kurt Busch
6. Kyle Busch
7. Ryan Newman
8. Matt Kenseth
9. Juan Montoya
10. Clint Bowyer

If you’re looking for some secondary bets (who will pay some nice odds if they hit) keep an eye on Montoya and Truex Jr. as well. These guys usually do well here. Richmond is going to prove to be another exciting weekend of racing. Watch for these guys to come away with plenty of donuts on the fenders this weekend!