NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Matt McLaughlin’s Driver Handicaps: 2007 Richmond Fall Race Edition

Jeff Gordon – Gordon has won here twice and has top-10 finishes in 17 of 29 starts… but his track record lately at RIR is worrisome. His fourth-place finish in the spring arrested a streak of four straight finishes of 30th or worse, including a disastrous performance in 2005 that locked him out of NASCAR’s “playoff.” Some would argue since Gordon is solidly in the Chase, he has little incentive to finish on top this weekend; however, that also gives him the option to go for the win, something he hasn’t hesitated to do over the past month or so.

Tony Stewart – In 17 starts at Richmond, Stewart has managed 11 top-10 finishes in what’s been one of the better tracks for him during his career. The veteran’s also won three races here, including his first ever on the Cup level in 1999. To commemorate that win, Stewart bought a dog and named him Richmond. One of those Chase drivers that can go for broke, he’s one to watch on Saturday; clearly, Stewart’s not the sort that is going to buy a dog and name it “Second Place.”

Denny Hamlin – In just three Cup starts at Richmond, Hamlin is averaging a seventh-place finish. He’s already collected second and third-place results here, leading laps in every Cup event he has raced.

Carl Edwards – Edwards is averaging a 17th-place finish after six Cup starts at this 3/4-mile oval. He did win a Busch Series race here in 2005… but that’s about it.

Matt Kenseth – Kenseth won at Richmond in 2002 and finished second at the track in 2005. Overall, he has top-10 finishes in nine of his 15 Richmond Cup starts, as well as 10 consecutive top-10 finishes in the Busch Series here.

Jimmie Johnson – Johnson won on this short track in the spring, but that was just his second top-10 finish in 11 career Richmond Cup starts.

LUMBIS: FANTASY PICKS ‘N’ PANS ENTERING RICHMOND

Jeff Burton – Burton won a Cup race at Richmond, but that was many moons ago, back in 1998. He scored his last top-five finish here in 2003, and has posted a top-10 result just once in the seven races run since then.

Kyle Busch – Busch has finished second in the last two Richmond Cup races, and led 248 laps in this event last year. In five Cup starts at this track, Busch has never finished worse than fifth.

Clint Bowyer – In three Cup starts at Richmond, Bowyer has never finished better than ninth or worse than 12th. He did win the Busch race here in the spring, though, and merely needs to start the race to make his first Chase.

Martin Truex Jr. – Truex has started three Cup races at Richmond, but didn’t finish one for the first time until this spring. That 28th-place result wasn’t exactly the stuff of legends… but it is a career best.

Kurt Busch – Busch won this race in 2005 and finished fifth here this spring. Those are the only top-five finishes he’s managed here to date in 11 Cup starts.

Kevin Harvick – Harvick won this race last year, scoring top-10 finishes in the last five Cup races run here. Harvick also has four Busch Series wins at Richmond, including three of the last four.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Earnhardt has won three Cup races at Richmond, including his last Cup victory to date in 2006. In 16 RIR Cup starts, Earnhardt has nine top-10 results.

Ryan Newman– Newman won here in 2003 and has top-10 finishes in seven of his 11 Cup starts here. But he’s missed the top 10 in the last three Richmond races held in the fall.

Greg Biffle – Biffle’s 19th-place result in the spring snapped a streak of five consecutive top 10s at this track. It’s a place that’s treated Biffle well across the board; in three career Truck Series starts, he’s won once and never finished worse than third.

Casey Mears – Never known as a short-track ace, Mears is averaging a mediocre 26th-place finish here after 11 Cup starts.

Bobby Labonte – While Labonte has never won at Richmond, he has finished second or third here four times. But in the last four Richmond Cup races, he hasn’t even come close to a top-10 finish, coming home 22nd, 24th, 22nd and 15th.

Jamie McMurray – Despite two top-10 results at Richmond, McMurray is still averaging a 25th-place finish here after nine Cup starts.

Juan Pablo Montoya – Still adjusting to short tracks, Montoya struggled en route to a 26th-place finish here this spring.

JJ Yeley – Yeley has failed to figure out Richmond to any appreciable extent, posting three finishes clustered between 13th and 22nd in his short Cup career.

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