After last week’s Southern 500 at Darlington, the NASCAR Playoffs continue this weekend at the Richmond short track. When does the Cup race start, what is the grid and what are the stage lengths?
NASCAR Richmond continues first round of Playoffs
Following on from last week’s Southern 500 at Darlington, Denny Hamlin is the only Playoff driver who can afford to take things easy.
The #11 Joe Gibbs racer secured his first win of the season, and under NASCAR Playoffs rules is immediately locked into the next segment of the Playoffs.
Whilst Hamlin can race knowing he is through whatever happens, the same can’t be said for some of the other Playoff drivers.
A clutch of drivers retired early on at Darlington, including Michael McDowell, William Byron and two-time champion Kyle Busch.
McDowell is 20 points adrift of the cut-line, Byron nine down and Busch just two.
Tyler Reddick and Alex Bowman are level on points with Bowman’s #48 the wrong side of the bubble.
Bowman won at Richmond in the regular season, acing a late restart to get the jump on Hamlin and Joey Logano.
Regular season champion Kyle Larson finished second at Darlington, and retains his overall points lead – 34 ahead of Hamlin.
As with every race in the Round of 16, the cars will use the 750bhp high power/low downforce package.
Will the race have practice/qualifying?
Like the Southern 500 last week, the NASCAR race at Richmond is not one that is designated for practice or qualifying.
Only events such as the Daytona 500, Championship 4 or new events, such as the new road courses, have the full weekend format.
The grid for Richmond has been set according to NASCAR’s formula.
It takes into account a driver’s fastest lap from the last event, their finish, as well their position in the standings and the owner points as well.
The 16 Playoff drivers fill out the first eight rows, by dint of having actually qualified for them.
Hendrick Motorsports’ Larson will start on the pole at the 0.75-mile short track in Virginia.
He will be joined on the front row by Hamlin.
Brad Keselowski won this race in 2020 for Team Penske. The #2 is joined on the fourth row by teammate Ryan Blaney in the #12 Mustang.
Spring Richmond race winner Bowman will roll off 12th.
McDowell’s #34 is due to take the green flag in 16th.
The first non-Playoff driver is Chip Ganassi’s Ross Chastain – the #42 due to start 17th.
When is the NASCAR race at Richmond?
The race will be run on Saturday, September 11th, which falls on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.
NASCAR’s fall race at Richmond has been known as the “Federated Auto Parts 400.”
For this race, in tribute to the first responders after the attacks, it will be the “Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders.”
The race is due to begin with the green flag falling at 19:45pm local time on Saturday evening. That is 00:45am Sunday morning in the UK.
As the race name suggests, it be a 400 lap affair, split into the customary three stages.
The race will be split into 80-155-165 stage lengths.
Owing to the fact that there is no practice or qualifying, on or about Lap 30, NASCAR will throw the yellow flags for a competition caution.