Friday, September 09, 2016

The Frontstretch Newsletter: Kyle Busch, Casey Mears Top Richmond Practices

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The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
Sep. 9, 2016
Volume X, Edition CLVII

What to Watch: Friday

- Today is a very busy day at Richmond as both the Sprint Cup and XFINITY teams take to the D-Shaped oval.  For Sprint Cup, only practice and qualifying is on tap today while XFINITY teams have what amounts to a one-day show.
Zach Catanzareti (@ZachRacing)
Also, don't forget to follow our Twitter page@Frontstretch as well for updates!
This weekend's TV Schedule can be found
Top News
by The Frontstretch Staff
Kyle Busch, Casey Mears Top Richmond Practices
There's well over a dozen drivers who can earn a Chase spot Saturday night by winning Richmond. But for most critics and garage insiders, the name Casey Mears was far down that list.
Not anymore. Friday at the 3/4-mile short track Mears made a strong impression by posting the fastest speed in NASCAR's second practice session. Kyle Busch, who just missed out on a victory in Richmond's spring race wound up being the fastest car in the first one. Another "win to get in" Chase hopeful, Kasey Kahne, also impressed by posting the fourth-fastest speed in that first practice. Read more
IMSA Gives the Porsche 911 GT3 R Help with BoP
Thursday, IMSA announced rule changes ahead of the Lone Star Le Mans, the penultimate race of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.  The most notable change was an introduction of a 40-millimeter air restrictor on the Porsche 911 GT3 R's Flat 6 engine, an increase of two millimeters.  Read more
Frontstretch Folio: Federated Auto Parts 400
by Phil Allaway

This weekend, the Sprint Cup Series returns to Virginia in order to finally determine who will be part of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.  Coverage of the Federated Auto Parts 400 starts with a special two-hour edition of NASCAR America Saturday on NBCSN, followed by Countdown to Green.  The green flag is scheduled to drop around 7:48 p.m. and can be heard on MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).

Records and facts

Last year saw Matt Kenseth dominate the proceedings.  Kenseth led 352 of the 400 laps, including the final 103 on the way to an easy win.  Teammate Kyle Busch was second, followed by Joey Logano, Aric Almirola and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 

All-time, Richard Petty is the winningest driver at Richmond with 13 career victories.  Of those 13, three came on the dirt while the other ten came on the old, .542-mile paved oval prior to the track's 1988 renovation. Petty's count also includes seven in a row from 1970-73, a NASCAR record for this track.  Bobby Allison is second with seven wins while Rusty Wallace, Darrell Waltrip and David Pearson have six apiece.  Wallace's wins all came on the present three-quarters of a mile configuration.

Among active drivers, Kyle Busch is the winningest driver at Richmond with four triumphs.  Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (not racing due to concussion protocol) and Kevin Harvick have three wins apiece while Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Gordon and Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin all have two.

Track Facts
Track / Race Length: .750-mile D-shaped oval, 400 laps (300 miles)
Banking: 14 degrees

Frontstretch: 1,290 feet, banked 8 degrees

Backstretch: 860 feet, banked 5 degrees

Grandstand Seating: 59,000
Pit Road Speed: 40 mph
Pace Car Speed: 45 mph
Opened: 1946 (first Cup race in 1953)




Remaining Pre-Race Schedule:

Qualifying: Friday, September 9 at 5:45 p.m. on NBCSN

Say What?!

"I've always liked Richmond. I have been able to win here in the past and I look forward to the challenge. I think you can bring a lot back from the day race, but the bigger thing is the cars have changed since then. Even though it will be the same package, the teams have built better cars. We were really competitive in the first race, and I think we'll bring back a similar setup, but a better car, and work from there in practice." - Kasey Kahne

"The second Richmond race each year is especially intense just because you know there's a lot on the line. There are a lot of people racing for different things. It's the end of our regular season. If you're not in the Chase, it's your last chance to win a race. There are some guys who will probably be fighting for points spots as you go in there, but Richmond is kind of your perfect short track. It has good speed, a short-track feel to it, and the tires wear out. That's kind of what we all grew up racing on. It's got a little bit of everything and that makes it a fun place to race." - Kevin Harvick

"I've always felt like Richmond was the ultimate drivers' track. When we didn't have all the downforce like we do now, you used to literally move around the racetrack. You didn't get stuck in one groove. You could be fast there running two or three different ways, using three different lines. You could do what you needed to do to complement your car or not hurt it. That's what I have always liked about it. It's always going to be my favorite track." - Tony Stewart

"Obviously this is a big weekend for us. We have a spot in the Chase right now, and we want to keep it that way. So, we need to keep with our strategy of being aggressive where it makes sense while being cautious and playing a little defense at the same time. We feel pretty good about where we're at, though, and look forward to Saturday night in our CSX 'Play It Safe' Ford.

"Richmond is one of those places that changes on you pretty quick. It puts down a ton of rubber throughout the course of a race. This was probably the one track in this final stretch that we knew we needed to focus on to be better. The good thing is the last couple months have been pretty good for us. We had several packages that we ran at different racetracks that we talked about a lot, and I feel like we'll be good for Richmond. We'll have something we can run better with and get more speed and be more consistent through a run." - Chris Buescher

Phil Allaway is the Newsletter Manager and a Senior Writer for  He can be reached via e-mail at

by Zach Catanzareti
by Amy Henderson
by Tom Bowles

Q: In the 1987 Wrangler Jeans Indigo 400 at Richmond, current XFINITY Series car owner Jimmy Means earned his 17th and final top-10 finish in Cup by placing ninth.  It could have been much better than that, too had Means not run into a problem late in the race.  What happened?
Check back Monday for the answer, here in the Frontstretch Newsletter!

Thursday's Answer:
Q: The 2000 Pontiac Excitement 400 saw the return of Geoff Bodine to the driver's seat from injuries suffered in his infamous crash in the Daytona 250 that February.  Bodine qualified fourth and finished 13th in the Joe Bessey-owned No. 60 Chevrolet.  However, it was a rather interesting adventure to earn that finish.  How did it come about?
A: As the race continued on, Geoff Bodine appeared unable to go the full 400-lap distance.  The weather and the G-Forces got to him.  Around halfway, Geoff pitted and Joe Bessey Motorsports put his younger brother Todd in the car (Todd had dropped out earlier).  Todd made up three laps to finish on the lead lap in 13th.
In The Frontstretch Newsletter:
We'll have recaps of the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series races from Richmond, in addition to any other news that breaks.
We'll have a series of post-race commentaries analyzing this weekend's action at Richmond International Raceway.
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