Crown Royal Presents the Dan Lowry 400 Fantasy NASCAR Preview

by C.J. Radune on May 1, 2008 @ 07:00:11 PDT

 


Richmond International Raceway is a favorite racetrack for many drivers. It is known for side-by-side racing and plenty of passing. Richmond is a downforce track, so there will be a lot of importance placed on finding the perfect suspension setup. Brakes are also important, as passes are often a result of getting into a turn first and out-braking the other car. Turns 1 and 2 make up the tighter part of the track and are where most accidents occur.

Since Richmond is a short track, the differences between the teams should be smaller given that the setup with the new car is a bit easier to find on slower tracks. The competition should be very tight, and the team that can get their suspension settings working well may be the team that ends up in Victory Lane.

Location: Richmond, Va.

Shape: Oval

Length: 0.75 miles

Laps: 400

Banking: Turns: 14 degrees; front stretch: 8 degrees; back stretch: 2 degrees

Leading the Pack

Kyle Busch | No. 18 Pedigree Toyota | Joe Gibbs Racing

Busch picked up his second win of the season in the Aaron's 499 Sunday, April 27, at Talladega Superspeedway. He is having a tremendous season and heads to Richmond second in Cup points. Richmond should be a great opportunity for Busch to close the 22-point gap between him and Jeff Burton. Busch has only finished outside of the top five at the track once in his six starts. His average starting position is 14.5 with an average finish of 6.2. Busch should be a strong contender for the win in the Crown Royal Presents the Dan Lowry 400.

Kevin Harvick | No. 29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet | Richard Childress Racing

Harvick has always been strong at Richmond. He has finished in the top 10 in his last six starts at the track and could make it seven this weekend in the Crown Royal Presents the Dan Lowry 400. Coming to Richmond must be a relief for Harvick since his performance has taken a dip in the past few weeks. He hasn't finished in the top 10 since the Food City 500 March 16. Childress Racing has proven their mettle at short tracks this season, when they swept the top-three finishes at Bristol Motor Speedway, with Harvick taking second place. Harvick should have an excellent opportunity to turn in another top-10 finish this weekend.

Denny Hamlin | No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota | Joe Gibbs Racing

Hamlin was able to push just about anyone into the lead at Talladega Superspeedway but had difficulty being out front himself. His ability to push others was good enough to earn him his fourth consecutive top-five finish and fifth consecutive top-10 finish. Hamlin has truly turned up his performances this season and heads to Richmond fourth in Cup points. It is very likely that Hamlin's momentum will continue through the Crown Royal Presents the Dan Lowry 400 as well. In his four starts at the track, he has finished in the top five twice and another time in the top 10. His worst finish in those four starts was 15th in the 2006 Chevy Rock & Roll 400 after he started from pole.

Tony Stewart | No. 20 Home Depot Toyota | Joe Gibbs Racing

Stewart may have been on track for his first win of the 2008 season at Talladega Superspeedway before contact ruined his day and forced him to finish in 38th place. Stewart has had good performances at nearly all tracks the Cup Series has visited this season, and now he's heading to Richmond, where he has had a lot of success in the past. In 18 career starts, he has three wins, six top-fives and 12 top-10s. He has led 792 laps at the track and will be looking for his third straight top-10 finish in the Crown Royal Presents the Dan Lowry 400.

Kurt Busch | No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge | Penske Racing

Unfortunately for Busch, he hasn't finished better than 23rd in the last four races. His teammate, Ryan Newman, has been demonstrating that Penske Dodges have potential, but that potential hasn't rubbed off on Busch just yet. Busch has been hit or miss at Richmond in the past, but in his last two starts, he has two top-10 finishes. The Crown Royal Presents the Dan Lowry 400 may be the place Busch can score a good result. The new cars will be more evenly matched on the short track, and it will be interesting to see how quickly Busch comes along if he can get help from the Newman side of the garage.

Drivers to Keep an Eye On

Kasey Kahne | No. 9 Budweiser Dodge | Gillett Evernham Motorsports

After a great start to the 2008 season, Kahne has been struggling recently. He started the year with four top-10 finishes in the first five races, but he hasn't finished in the top 10 in the last four races. Kahne is another driver whose results at Richmond have been hit or miss. He has one win and three other top-10 finishes in eight career starts. Evernham Motorsports has struggled as a whole, and Kahne will want to use Richmond to right that trend. It wouldn't be inconceivable to see Kahne finish in or near the top 10.

Ryan Newman | No. 12 Alltel Dodge | Penske Racing

An eighth-place finish in the Aaron's 499 was Newman's fourth top-10 of the season. Were it not for an engine failure in the Subway Fresh Fit 500, Newman may have scored another top-five or top-10. He started from the pole there and led 37 laps before dropping out a third of the way through with engine problems. Newman has usually qualified well at Richmond with an average starting position of 8.8 in 12 starts. He has also finished well, posting an 11.1 average finish in those starts. Newman and Penske Racing may have turned the corner. That corner could be the difference in regularly recording top-fives and top-10s. Newman's recent finishes have certainly hinted at that ability.

Greg Biffle | No. 16 Dish Network Ford | Roush Fenway Racing

Biffle has been quietly scoring good finishes this season. He hasn't stolen headlines like his teammate, Carl Edwards, but after a rough patch that started at Martinsville Speedway and coincided with the height of "Sway Bar Gate," he has had back-to-back decent finishes. Biffle's most recent starts at Richmond haven't resulted in great finishes, but he did have a streak of five top-10 finishes from 2004 to the '06 Chevy Rock & Roll 400. Biffle's ability to finish well at Richmond is not in question, and the Crown Royal Presents the Dan Lowry 400 may see him back in the top 10.

Matt Kenseth | No. 17 DeWalt NANO Technology Ford | Roush Fenway Racing

One of the season's biggest underachievers so far could arguably be Kenseth. He comes to the Crown Royal Presents the Dan Lowry 400 19th in Cup points, with just one top-five and four top-10 finishes. Kenseth has to have a solid finish at Richmond this weekend to make up some ground and begin moving into contention for the Chase. While he does have some blemishes on his record at Richmond, he has finished in the top five three times and the top 10 nine times in 16 career starts. In all likelihood, Kenseth should be aggressive through the race as he tries to finish well. Hopefully for fantasy owners, he won't end up being too aggressive.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. | No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet | Hendrick Motorsports

Another top-10 finish in the Aaron's 499 brings Earnhardt's 2008 season totals to three top-fives and seven top-10s. The only thing missing from Earnhardt's statistics this year is a win. He is third in Cup points and heading to one of his better tracks for the Crown Royal Presents the Dan Lowry 400. Earnhardt has won at Richmond three times, has seven top-fives and nine top-10s. Earnhardt nation will go crazy when he reaches Victory Lane for the first time with Hendrick Motorsports, but can it be this weekend in Richmond? Fantasy owners may not get the win they're hoping for, but they should expect another solid finish from Earnhardt.

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About C.J. Radune

Radune has been a KFFL contributor since January 2008.

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