This Sunday, April 30th at 2 pm ET, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams will run 300 miles over 400 laps in the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway with full coverage on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Stage 1 ends on lap 100, with Stage 2 ending on lap 200 and the Final Stage on lap 400.
What to Watch For: Dale Earnhardt Jr. competes in his first race after announcing his retirement at the conclusion of the 2017 season.
Jimmie Johnson attempts to win his third consecutive race. Another win – the 83rd of his career – will tie him with NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough for sixth on the all-time list.
Denny Hamlin goes for his second straight Richmond win.
Standings leader Kyle Larson looks to extend his 27-point advantage over second-place Chase Elliott.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. to Retire at End of Season
Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced Tuesday he will retire from Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series racing at the end of the season. He is still under contract to run two NASCAR XFINITY Series races in 2018.
In 603 career starts, Earnhardt has 26 wins, 149 top-fives and 253 top-tens. He is a 14-time Most Popular Driver and a two-time DAYTONA 500 champion.
The No. 88 Chevrolet driver, who currently sits 24th in the standings, will attempt to turn his season around at Richmond – one of his better tracks.
In 34 starts at Richmond, Earnhardt owns three wins, five top-fives, 14 top-tens and a 13.2 average finish.
Jimmie Johnson Goes for Third Straight Win and a Tie with Yarborough
Jimmie Johnson maneuvered around Kevin Harvick with 21 laps left in Monday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway and outlasted a hard-charging Clint Bowyer to win his second consecutive race.
The victory gives Johnson 82 career wins. With a third straight victory in Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway, Johnson would tie NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough for sixth on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series all-time wins list (83). The No. 48 Chevrolet driver trails Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison for fourth on the all-time wins list (84) by a mere two checkered flags.
In 30 career starts at Richmond, Johnson claims three wins, seven top-fives and 12 top-tens.
Johnson sits sixth in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points standings – 116 markers below first-place Kyle Larson. His ten playoff points are tied with Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski for the most on the circuit. Johnson and Keselowski are the only drivers with multiple wins this season.
Bowyer Hopes to Build on Runner-Up Result
Clint Bowyer’s move to Stewart-Haas Racing seems to have revived his career.
The No. 14 Chevrolet driver wheeled his way to a runner-up finish Monday at Bristol – his best showing since placing second at Richmond – the site of this weekend’s race – on April 27, 2013.
Bowyer’s two top-five and four top-ten finishes this season outnumber his totals of zero top-fives and three top-tens from last year.
He sits eighth in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points standings – 121 markers behind leader Kyle Larson. The Kansas native hasn’t placed better than 19th in the final standings since finishing seventh in 2013.
Richmond is one of Bowyer’s top tracks. In 22 starts at the Virginia oval, he owns two wins, four top-fives and 12 top-tens.
Larson Continues Breakout Season, Extends Points Lead
Kyle Larson continued his breakout season with a stage win and sixth-place finish at Bristol. He now holds a 27-point advantage over Chase Elliott in the standings on the strength of one win, five top-fives and six top-tens.
The 24-year-old Chevrolet driver will try to extend his lead in Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway. In six starts at Richmond, he has posted one top-ten finish – a runner-up showing last fall. He has never finished worse than 16th at the Virginia track and has an average finish of 11.3 there.
Beat Virginia: Hamlin Tough to Pass at Richmond
Chesterfield Virginia native Denny Hamlin returns home to Richmond International Raceway where he’ll go for his second straight win after visiting Victory Lane there in last year’s regular season finale.
In 21 starts at Richmond, Hamlin owns three wins, eight top-fives and 12 top-tens. He holds the second-best driver rating (109.9), as well as the third-best average finish (10.1) and average running position (7.8) there.
Hamlin has started the season off slow. He is currently 15th in the points standings – 176 markers behind leader Kyle Larson.
Could Richmond be the Site of Kyle Busch’s First Win?
Kyle Busch visited Victory Lane nine times in the previous two seasons, but he’s still searching for his first win of 2017.
That first triumph could come this weekend at Richmond International Raceway – a track where the Las Vegas native has excelled throughout his career. In 23 starts at the 0.75-mile track, Busch claims four wins, 15 top-fives and 17 top-tens. Among active drivers, he boasts the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ top average finish (seventh and driver rating (110.8), along with the second-best average running position (7.7) at the 0.75-mile track.
Busch led 78 laps in last year’s spring race at Richmond before his teammate Carl Edwards moved him for the win off turn four on the final go-around.
The No. 18 Toyota driver ranks 11th in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings – 146 points behind leader Kyle Larson.
Furniture Row Puts on Show at Bristol
Furniture Row Racing continued to display its speed in Monday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Martin Truex Jr. placed second in Stage 1 and won Stage 2, before finishing eighth due to a pit road speeding penalty that took him out of contention for the race win. He led 116 laps on the day.
The No. 78 Toyota driver’s 20-year-old teammate Erik Jones flashed his immense potential, finishing third in Stage 1 and sixth in Stage 2, but finished 17th as the result of a wreck and pit road penalty.
Truex is third in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings on the strength of one victory and a series-leading five stage wins. His ten playoff points are tied with Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson’s totals for the most in the series.
Jones sits 12th in the points standings, the highest ranking among Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders.