Toyota Owners 400 Picks to Win

Race: Toyota Owners 400
Date: Saturday April 26, 2014
Track: Richmond International Raceway
Time: 7 pm ET

by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper,

It was a nice break for the holiday, but it’s time to get these drivers back on the track! We are heading to Richmond International Raceway this weekend. There’s no better place than a short track to get back to the action. This weekend will prove to be no less than stellar in terms of great racing from these drivers.

Richmond tends to be a tricky track. I say that because it’s not necessarily your typical short track. It’s bigger than Bristol and Martinsville, and we typically have longer green flag runs here because of that. This is a place where tires are key. Track position is important as well, but the tires will get the guys there.

This track is a 3/4 mile oval with 14 degree banking in the turns, 8 degrees on the 1290 foot frontstretch and 2 degrees on the 860 foot backstretch. The opportunity for higher speeds resides on this track. We don’t typically see the extent of equipment failure here that we see at other short tracks either. That’s not to say that taking care of your car isn’t important, but braking and the like are not as strenuous as Martinsville or Bristol necessarily. As I said before, taking care of tires will probably be the biggest challenge. We will most likely see several different strategies when it comes to pit stops.

Winners at this track vary. Some of the more typical winners include Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, and Kevin Harvick. My opinion is that Kevin Harvick is going to put up a fight this weekend. His team has had a rough go of it in a few races recently and this is exactly the track where he can build up his momentum once again. He continue his legacy of being first repeat winner of the year. I wouldn’t put it past him. Watch for Denny Hamlin to try and gain some speed here as well, as he’s got Richmond figured out pretty well. Here’s a look at your potential winners for this weekend’s Saturday night race:

My Pick to Win: Kevin Harvick
Middle of the Road Pick: Carl Edwards
Dark Horse Prediction: Marcos Ambrose

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Kevin Harvick has one of the best records at Richmond. As the latest winner in the Sprint Cup, he’s got momentum coming into this track and a lot of success on flat tracks to back him up as a winner on Saturday night. Carl Edwards is one of those drivers who tends to have fun at Richmond. He likes running here and does pretty well overall. Look for him to be in the lead group. Finally, it really is a wild card, but Marcos Ambrose does significantly better at Richmond than he does at most other tracks on the circuit. He’s a contender more often than not and definitely puts on a good show. Look for him to continue to fight for his first win on an oval this weekend. Richmond really shouldn’t cause too much movement within the points to be honest. It’s not a crazy unpredictable track, so I would expect that there will only be one or two positions jumped here and there. After the last race, there wasn’t much movement either with the exception of Joey Logano falling 4 positions and Greg Biffle gaining 5 spots. Everyone else made pretty negligible moves.

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

1. Jeff Gordon
2. Matt Kenseth
3. Carl Edwards
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
5. Jimmie Johnson
6. Kyle Busch
7. Brad Keselowski
8. Joey Logano
9. Ryan Newman
10. Austin Dillon
11. Greg Biffle
12. Tony Stewart
13. Brian Vickers
14. Kyle Larson
15. Denny Hamlin
16. Clint Bowyer

Richmond may be the track where we see the Harvick continue his repeat wins this season. He needs to step up and show some consistency because he’s sitting at 22nd in points. Not that it means much under this new system, but it says a lot about the team and consistency. We will have to wait and see if this is the weekend that he can overcome the difficulties that he’s suffered in a few races this year. Stay tuned for an action-packed Saturday night of racing at Richmond International Raceway!

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