Podium Preview: Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond

In this case, Denny Hamlin hopes for consecutive victories especially in Saturday night's Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond. (Photo: Brian Lawdermilk | Getty Images)

In this case, Denny Hamlin hopes for consecutive victories especially in Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond. (Photo: Brian Lawdermilk | Getty Images)

While an important NASCAR Playoffs race awaits on Saturday night at Richmond, most of our minds focuses on events that happened 20 years ago on 9/11. On a day that seemed very typical when it started, the world as we knew it changed forever following daybreak.

Twenty years later, the world, changed from the events of 9/11, reels from another crisis. As we reconcile past traumatic, lifechanging moments like 9/11 and the global COVID-19 pandemic, events like the Federated Auto Parts Salute to American Heroes 400 at Richmond serve as a reminder that life can and will be OK.

All the while, we will never forget the lives of those lost on 9/11, the pandemic and any tragedies. We will always remember them and the heroes emerging from this and any day where we can still make the best of life.

Each race weekend, The Podium Finish’s panelists preview each NASCAR Cup Series points-paying race. This weekend, Kobe Lambeth, Luis TorresMatt SisolerMichelle RaynorTaylor Kitchen, and yours truly consider rebound Playoff racers and more frantic, aggressive moves in the postseason.

Podium Preview: Federated Auto Parts Salute to American Heroes 400 at Richmond
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Question 1
Will McD rebound in Saturday night's Federated Auto Parts Salute to American Heroes 400 at Richmond? (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

Will McD rebound in Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts Salute to American Heroes 400 at Richmond? (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

Chase Elliott, William Byron, Alex Bowman, Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney and Michael McDowell had a tough evening at Darlington. Which of these Playoff contenders likely rebounds at Richmond on Saturday night?

Raynor : Kyle Busch has 6 wins at Richmond and I can see after last week’s issues that he will be the one to rebound. He may not win the race, but he will be in the top 8. He knows how to drive this track and has the best understanding of what it takes to be up front at the end. 

Sisoler: Can’t ever count out Kyle Busch at tracks like Richmond, he’s extremely tough. Plus NASCAR giving him that fine after last week (which was appropriate in my opinion) probably just adds fuel to the fire for Rowdy. That being said, you cannot dismiss Alex Bowman given how strong he races at these tracks. 

Tiongson : Kyle Busch seems like the easiest answer based on his past track performances at Richmond. After all, he has six wins including a season sweep in 2018. However, don’t dismiss Alex Bowman as he thrives on late race cautions and restarts. Remember that he pounced on a late race restart and seemed like a decent performer for Hendrick, even better than Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott.

Busch serves well as a long green flag run pick as he enjoys “The Dominion State” despite his rather interesting post accident interview. It seems foolish for anyone considering Busch out of the hunt just because of his accident at Darlington. He might be ditching the sim but I don’t think he’ll do the same with his title hopes.

Hobbs : Given my race pick and this is a driver with fire (always) in his eye, I look for Kyle Busch to be a man on a mission. Not only is Richmond one of his best tracks, but even after rough races, he can bounce back at places that suit him. While it will be a climb, I think Richmond International Raceway is the place for Rowdy to stamp his ticket to the next round.

Question 2
Cue Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight." (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

Cue Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight.” (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

Given Kyle Larson’s aggressive, last lap attempt for the win at Darlington, how likely will we see more of these moves at Richmond and the remaining Playoffs races?

Lambeth :  Kyle Larson’s last lap desperation move is everything representable of what the playoffs should be. You leave it all on the track and say you did everything possible to win that race. His video game-like full send showed us he is willing to do anything to win the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series title. It would not surprise me if we see Larson and other playoff drivers enter the remaining races with the “checkers or wreckers” mindset. In order to become a champion in NASCAR, you must be willing to do what others are not willing to do.

Jones :  It’s the Playoffs. The Playoffs that are coming at the end of an already wild season. Given the trouble at Darlington for a number of Playoff favorites, how likely? Very likely. Buckle up, kids! 

Kitchen :  I expect to see more aggression and chaos at Richmond this weekend and beyond. All these drivers are hungry for a championship and this year, there is a healthy mix of veterans and young guns duking it out. The younger drivers are willing to make riskier moves to get a win while I see more of the veteran drivers practicing patience. This combination is sure to produce more upsets and drastic moves to get a victory. 

Two laps around Richmond under the lights proves quite riveting and a reminder of yesteryear in NASCAR. Next, we review last Sunday night’s Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington with our race and points reports!
All in all, the panelists rocked it at Darlington.

All in all, the panelists rocked it at Darlington.

However, with only six starters tonight, the points race will shake up quite a bit.

However, with only six starters tonight, the points race will shake up quite a bit.

Next, Ashley Hobbs crunches the numbers for Saturday night’s Federated Auto Pats Salute to American Heroes 400 at Richmond.
First, consider how your favorite team fares in the Federated Auto Parts Salute to American Heroes 400 at Richmond.

First, consider how your favorite team fares in the Federated Auto Parts Salute to American Heroes 400 at Richmond.

Since 2004, the Federated Auto Parts Salute to American Heroes 400 at Richmond winner has an average starting position of 6.6, led an average of 163.6 laps, started within the top five 58.82% of the time and started within the top 10 82.35% of the time.

Since 2004, the Federated Auto Parts Salute to American Heroes 400 at Richmond winner has an average starting position of 6.6, led an average of 163.6 laps, started within the top five 58.82% of the time and started within the top 10 82.35% of the time.

Things could get interesting between Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott.

Things could get interesting between Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott.

In the past 10 races, it's been a short sprint to the finish.

In the past 10 races, it’s been a short sprint to the finish.

However, since 2016, green flag runs dominate the final stage.

However, since 2016, green flag runs dominate the final stage.

Back to Denny.

Back to Denny.

Now, check out the top 10 starters for Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts Salute to American Heroes 400 at Richmond.
Row 1
Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

Row 2
Martin Truex Jr. and Kurt Busch (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

Martin Truex Jr. and Kurt Busch (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

Row 3
Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

Row 4
Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

Row 5
Aric Almirola and Christopher Bell (Photo: Sean Folsom and Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

Aric Almirola and Christopher Bell (Photo: Sean Folsom and Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

Lastly, here’s our picks for Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts Salute to American Heroes 400 at Richmond.
Meet tonight's Federated Auto Parts Salute to American Heroes 400 at Richmond "Fantastic Five."

Meet tonight’s Federated Auto Parts Salute to American Heroes 400 at Richmond “Fantastic Five.”

Jones : I think Kyle Busch will be ready to put his “crappy” car and “crappy” Darlington weekend behind him. He’s heading to a track he knows and loves and I expect a rebound from The Candy Man.

Raynor : Kyle Busch has six wins at Richmond and he will be on a mission after last week’s issues. He knows how to get around the track well.

Tiongson : When it comes to Richmond, it seems like Team Penske thrives at this venue. While Alex Bowman might seem a solid, bargain pick, I’m going from a bargain store to top retailer. Let’s go with Joey Logano and his solid 6.17 average finish and his third win at this 0.75-mile venue!

Kitchen : Joey Logano has a good opportunity to win a race this weekend. He has not been totally consistent in the past few months, but he has come close to a win a few times. Hopefully the No. 22 team will have a good day and get to victory lane.

Sisoler : I picked the right team last week (JGR), just the driver (MTJ instead of Hamlin) was off. But I’m gonna go back to what I used last week and take the winner of the previous race at this week’s track, as Alex Bowman has gotten it done at Richmond before. And I think he will do it again, this time, under the lights!

Lambeth : After failing to win in the regular season, Denny Hamlin finally got the big dub last Saturday night at Darlington. In the Richmond spring race, Hamlin dominated the race until Alex Bowman stole the show in the closing laps. Tonight, the driver of the No. 11 Toyota will get redemption and pull into victory lane at Richmond!

Hobbs : Already victorious in the Playoffs so nothing to lose, Denny Hamlin rides that single season victory again to victory lane. He does have the stats to back it up after all.

Shoppe : Martin Truex Jr. will get back to his winning ways at Richmond!

We’re ready for some racing. How about you? What do you think are the biggest storylines heading into the race? Who are your favorites to win?  Tweet us now @ThePodiumFinish and tell us now!

Thanks as always to the TPF team for their amazing efforts this week!  Stay safe and wash your hands often. Help yourself, your family and friends by getting the COVID-19 vaccine! Take the shot to save your life and others! Also, thanks for reading our content throughout this season.

The opinions and thoughts expressed in Podium Preview are solely of the authors. They do not reflect any organizations affiliated with the participants and author outside of TPF. This weekly feature is strictly for entertainment purposes. Ultimately, they are not indicative of TPF, the organization and its staff.

Also, if you are shopping for NASCAR or racing die-casts, be sure to check out our friends at Circle B Diecast! If your order is $20 or more, be sure to use coupon code TPF2021 for free shipping! Tell them we sent you and buy some new die-casts now!

Rob Tiongson

Rob Tiongson is a 30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught his eyes.

From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat.

Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Communications at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's just as happy to be a Texan.

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