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Richmond 400 race preview

Written by Gabriel Tsui, Edited by Meghana Sree

After a dominating performance by the #24 of William Byron in COTA, we head to Richmond, Virginia, for the final race of March. So far into the season, it has been a story of two tales, with Joe Gibbs Racing and Hendrick Motorsport dominating every weekend, while the other teams are far away from these two leaders.

Will this weekend be the same ol’ story? Or will a dark horse rise from the shadows and beat the dominating giants?

COTA Race Debrief

The race started off with Byron on pole, leading the field to green. During stage one, there were a few contacts between cars, but nothing serious enough to bring out the caution.

At the end of stage one, most cars decided to pit before the stage break, but a few cars including Christopher Bell decided against pitting, who took the stage one win. During the stage break, Bell and his team decided to gamble and not pit at this time. At the end of stage two, Byron decided to yet again pit from the lead, and Denny Hamlin won stage two.

At the start of the final stage, Byron led the field to green flag, but lost the lead to Ross Chastain on turn one after he was forced wide and fell to third. Soon, however, Byron re-took the lead on lap 43, but pitted from the lead immediately, and won the race off pit road to take provisional lead.

Byron held the lead after the pit cycle, but had Bell breathing down his neck at the end of the stage. Fortunately for Byron, the gap was proven to be far too much for Bell to close down, and capped off a dominating day with a shiny race win, his second of the season.

Track Preview

The Richmond Raceway is located in Richmond, Virginia. It is a D-shaped oval, with a length of 0.750 miles (1.207 kilometres). There is a 14 degree banking on the turns, and an eight degree banking on the frontstretch. Every year, Richmond Raceway holds two different races; one during the early parts of the season, and one during the playoffs. This year’s race will mark the 71st iteration of this event.

The drivers will drive 400 laps, around 300 miles around the race track. The race will be separated into three different stages with 80 laps in stage one, 155 laps in stage two, and 165 laps in the final stage.

The weather forecast shows that there will be no precipitation in the weekend, with temperatures ranging from 11 to 23 degrees Celsius. The race will commence on Sunday, March 31st, at 19:00 ET (16:00 PT, 01:00 CET).

Race Prediction

After six races into the season, the road to the championship seems to be a bit more clearer. In these six races, Ford has won none, Toyota has won two, and Chevrolet has won four. Then it would come as no surprise that Chevrolets are the clear favourite going into the weekend, given their recent performances at the track– winning two of the last three races here in Richmond.

Top drivers such as Byron and Kyle Larson have been outstanding performers so far this season, and they are definitely looking for another win to solidify their position. Richmond will be a prime race for the Chevys to take yet another win, but the Toyotas will be hot on their tail.

Even though the Toyotas lost the race in COTA, it wasn’t a complete failure. In fact, it was the complete opposite. They had three drivers within the top five at the end of the race, with Bell and Ty Gibbs in the top three.

Throughout the entire race, Byron had either Bell or Gibbs on his tail, keeping him on edge, with Bell nearly overtaking Byron for the race win if he didn’t encounter a fueling issue on his first pit stop of the race. It is certainly an effort the Toyotas and JGR can be proud of, while Bell and Gibbs will be looking to take a statement win in Richmond to get back on top of the Chevys.

This is a tough prediction, but the feeling is that the Toyotas could take a win over the Chevys and the Fords, with one of the Joe Gibbs drivers going to victory lane.


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