An Exciting Race Awaits Us At The Richmond Raceway This Weekend
The NASCAR Cup Series heads over to Richmond Raceway, in Richmond, Virginia, for the 2022 Toyota Owners 400, the seventh race of the season. The race is scheduled for Sunday, April 3, and will mark the first time NASCAR visits Richmond since September 2021 Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders.
The bookmakers have set the odds very tightly at the top ahead of this weekend’s race, with the usual names leading the way, including Chase Elliott, who is expected to be the most dominant driver in Richmond. But can the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion deliver to the expectations and win his first race of the season?
All Eyes On Chase Elliott As He Looks For His First W Of The Season
Chase Elliott heads to Richmond, looking to solidify his spot at the top of the NASCAR Cup Series standings. At the same time, the 26-year-old will be eager to pick up his first win of the 2022 season in a bid to lock in a spot in the playoffs.
Interestingly, Elliott leads the Cup Series standings with 208 points even though he has yet to win a single race across the first six. Still, that doesn’t take away from the fact that he is one of the most consistent drivers in the field.
Elliott’s worst performance of 2022 came in California, where he placed 26th, which is far from great. Still, he has a top-10 finish in four of the remaining four races – except for the 2022 Ruoff Mortgage 500, where he finished in 11th.
Elsewhere, Elliott has managed a 10th (Daytona), ninth (Las Vegas), sixth (Atlanta), and fourth (COTA). Interestingly, his best performance of the season came last weekend, which isn’t too surprising considering Elliott usually does well at COTA, but it also shows that perhaps the 2020 Cup Series champion has found his stride.
Kyle Larsson Looking To Escape The Slump
The defending NASCAR Cup Series champion, Kyle Larson, has found himself in a similar spot to Chase Elliott ahead of this weekend’s race. Like Elliott, he is priced as one of the main favorites to claim the checkered flag, but unlike the 26-year-old, Larson has been struggling of late.
Following a devastating start to the season, when Larson got caught in a crash at Daytona and finished in 32nd, he bounced back with a win in California, and he added a runner-up finish in Las Vegas. Since then, it’s been downhill for the defending champion, who could only manage 34th in Phoenix, 30th in Atlanta, and 29th at COTA.
The season is still young, and Larson has plenty of time to get back on track, but given his recent slump, he will need to start showing up quickly if he wishes to be taken seriously. And yet, the bookies believe Larson should do well this week.
That’s fair on one side, but we have to remember that Larson could only manage an 18th-place finish here last year. On a more positive note, he has won in Richmond in 2017, had a runner-up finish in 2016, and finished sixth in the September race.
Don’t Forget About Logano, Busch, and Truex Jr.
Martin Truex Jr. placed fifth here last year and won the second Richmond race, so he is definitely not someone you can ignore. Moreover, he has produced solid results in the opening six races of the 2022 season, most notably across the last two, with an eighth-place finish in Atlanta and a seventh-place finish on COTA.
Sitting in seventh in the NASCAR Cup Series standings, Truex Jr. now has a great chance to catapult himself inside the top five. Even though he might not cross the finish line first, another strong finish just might be enough for him to achieve that feat.
Kyle Busch has a lot of catching up to do this weekend after he placed 33rd and 28th across the last two races. Still, he had produced a fourth-place finish in Las Vegas and a seventh-place finish in Phoenix. He found success on this track last year when he placed eighth, so he might be one of the outsiders to keep an eye on.
Joey Logano has yet to win a race this season, but he is still no.3 in the NASCAR Cup Series standings, having picked up four top-10 and one top-5 so far. His best performance of the season came in California, where Logano finished fifth and has since added an eighth and ninth-place finish in Phoenix and Atlanta.
Last week was disappointing for Logano, as he could only manage 31st (his worst of the season), but he has a bronze medal from last year’s race in Richmond, so expect him to be in the mix to add his first W of 2022.
2022 Toyota Owners 400 Betting Prediction
Richmond Raceway is very similar to the Phoenix Raceway, so expect drivers who did well a couple of weeks back to do well here as well. So when we talk about drivers who performed well in the Ruoff Mortgage 500, we can’t look past Chase Briscoe, who won the Phoenix race.
Admittedly, he has not achieved much since, with a 15th-place finish in Atlanta and a 30th-place finish in the EchoPark Automotive Texas Grand Prix. Still, a couple of iffy showings on tracks that didn’t suit Briscoe don’t mean he can’t be a threat to win next weekend.
Joey Logano is another driver we would keep our eye on. He has yet to win a race this season, but he did well in Phoenix (8th) and Atlanta (9th) and has a strong record in Richmond. Logano has 25 starts on this track and an average finish of 10.24.
Moreover, he has not finished outside of the top-5 across his last three starts (3rd, 3rd, 5th) and has won here twice (2014, 2017). But despite his past success here, Logano is not one of the favorites to win next weekend’s race, which doesn’t sound right and presents us with a great opportunity to back a driver who might be a bit underrated.
Prediction: Joey Logano to win
* All odds provided by Action247 Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
**All views expressed are my own. My picks are my own and are not a guarantee, bet at your own risk.