Toyota Owners 400 Race Preview & Predictions

by | Last updated Mar 27, 2024 | nascar

Race: Toyota Owners 400

Date: Sunday March 31, 2024

Track: Richmond Raceway

Time: 7pm ET

Channel: FOX

What Did We Learn From Last Weekend?

William Byron was very clearly the class of the field at COTA on Sunday. It was interesting watching the last 10 laps as Christopher Bell closed the gap and made quite the effort to catch Byron. He came up just short, though. The announcers in the booth were certain that Byron was just racing “hard enough” to maintain the lead, but the post-race interview begged to differ. Byron talked about how he made “micro-errors”, allowing Bell to catch up. Catching up and passing are too entirely different scenarios. Bell knew he could catch him, and he seemed quite confident in that, but even he knew that passing Byron would be slim with so few opportunities left. The passing zones at COTA are tough to navigate without spinning out, but Bell was banking on Byron to make a few more errors than he ended up making. Overall, it was a really stellar performance from both drivers, and as Bell said, it just came down to two great teams and two great drivers.

For Gibbs, it wasn’t only about the 2nd place finish from Bell. Ty Gibbs had a fantastic performance, running in the top 5 for a good portion of the day and only finishing in third after his teammate passed him with 2 laps to go. For just his second season in the Cup Series, Ty Gibbs is proving to be someone to really keep your eyes on. In fact, out of the 6 races run this year, Gibbs has 5 top 10 finishes. That’s an elite group to be part of. Hendrick driver Alex Bowman was fourth with Tyler Reddick rounding out the top 5 spots. As excited as I was to see Shane van Gisbergen back behind the wheel, he had a tough day. He ended his day in 21st after losing a gear mid-race. Another international driver, Kamui Kobayashi, had a hard time navigating the track and the traffic and ended up in 30th after all was said and done. Road course warrior AJ Allmendinger had a very respectable day in 6th place, followed by Ross Chastain, Chris Buescher, Kyle Busch, and Martin Truex Jr. to round out the top 10 spots. Predicted winner Chase Elliott could never contend and had a difficult time getting his car usable throughout the race. Another driver predicted to do well, Kyle Larson, struggled for the majority of the day finishing 17th behind Chase Elliott.

Where Are We Headed This Weekend?

Larson will be hoping for a better weekend as the drivers and teams head back to a traditional short track at Richmond Raceway. I’m excited because I’ll be at the track and enjoying the Sunday night race live! The track is set to be in great condition as the temps will be in the low 70s during the day and cooling down into the evening. This means that track will start off hot with a lot of grip but that will wear down as the sun goes down. Richmond is a cool track. It’s a 0.75-mile asphalt D-shaped oval. It’s a little bigger than Martinsville and Bristol, but it’s definitely not as flat as Martinsville and not quite as banked as Bristol. It has 14 degrees of banking in the turns, 8 degrees on the frontstretch and 2 degrees on the backstretch. Rich in history, Richmond racing dates back to 1953 when Lee Petty won the first race for the Grand National Series. The Cup Series has been here for almost as many years. The track has hosted IndyCar races, truck series racing, and Xfinity races as well. Richard Petty holds the record for, well, almost everything at this track. He has the most wins, top 5s, top 10s, most starts, most poles, most laps led, and most laps completed. More recent drivers are at a bit of a disadvantage with the sanctions NASCAR puts on the abilities of these teams to do anything whatsoever to their cars. It was definitely a different era of racing in the Petty days.

Odds and Value Picks

When it comes to picking a winner at this track, we often see the veterans stand out much like last weekend. The short tracks can be challenging, with a prerequisite requirement of understanding how to navigate lap traffic. There are often long green flag runs at Richmond because it’s not as treacherous to navigate as Bristol or Martinsville, and there’s room to spare to get around other drivers. This doesn’t mean that lap traffic won’t be a problem, though. Tires are also another consideration. We’ve seen a couple of races where tires were just terrible. Let’s hope Richmond doesn’t produce the same result. The drivers that should be able to navigate through these challenges are the ones who have been around the block a time or two. It’s hard to come into this weekend without mentioning William Byron. Although Larson is the defending winner, Byron led a whopping 117 laps last year before having some really bad luck late in the race with contact ending his run. With the amount of domination that team is putting out so far this year, it’s hard to count him out. In fact, it’s pretty hard to count out any of the Hendrick guys. But maybe something will surprise us. Richmond was the track where the Fords showed up finally in the middle of the year to show that they actually did have something for the rest of the field. They’re also having a slow start this year, so we’ll have to wait and see if they can find some traction this weekend. Let’s take a look at your potential winners heading into this weekend with odds provided by Bovada:

  • Winner: Kyle Larson +900
  • Mid-Range Pick: Chris Buescher +1400
  • Dark Horse: Josh Berry +8000

Bet your NASCAR picks for FREE this week, by scoring a 100% REAL CASH bonus on your first deposit of $75 to $300 when you use bonus promo code PREDICT100 at MyBookie Sportsbook!

Hear me out with Josh Berry. Although he’s having a rough go of it so far this season with SHR, the kid finished second in last year’s race. Maybe it was the Hendrick equipment, but he was still very solid the entire day. In his 4 Xfinity starts, Berry has 3 top 10 finishes. This is probably one of his best opportunities to have a really great finish this year. Hopefully he can capitalize on it. Chris Buescher won the July race here last year. Track conditions will certainly be different, but you can’t ever count out someone who has won here before. Clearly, he figured something out, so Buescher will look for a chance to gain some momentum this season. Larson will likely be the one to beat, though. He’s had a little bit of a crapshoot start this year, but he’s definitely shown strength. With a win at Las Vegas, he’s secured into the playoffs, so he can afford to be a little risky this weekend. His finish at Bristol was a top 5, so that shows us that he’s got a lot going for him in terms of the short tracks. He’s going to be looking for another win and more stage wins as well to gain those valuable points. We’ve seen just how important each point can be. Let’s see where these guys are standing after the race at COTA.

  1. Martin Truex Jr.
  2. Ty Gibbs
  3. Denny Hamlin
  4. Kyle Larson
  5. William Byron
  6. Christopher Bell
  7. Ross Chastain
  8. Chase Elliott
  9. Tyler Reddick
  10. Alex Bowman
  11. Chris Buescher
  12. Kyle Busch
  13. Daniel Suarez
  14. John H. Nemechek
  15. Brad Keselowski

Keselowski had a rough day at COTA as well. He fell 3 spots in the points after that race and was probably very happy to leave that place. Larson and Elliott lost quite a few positions as well. Sometimes, COTA can be as much as a crapshoot as Daytona or Talladega. Luckily, it’s still early in the season. Richmond will likely give them the boost they need. The drivers will still have to look at for drivers like Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch who are also notoriously strong at this track. Stay tuned for a great night of racing as these guys battle it out under the lights at Richmond Raceway!

Bet like the pros! Take advantage of multiple 100% sportsbook bonuses! Free money is good money!