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Last Updated Sunday, May 9, 2010 2:53 am, EDT

Crown Royal Presents The Heath Calhoun 400

Status: Final Richmond International Raceway

Race Capsule

Richmond International Raceway
  • What:

    Race 10 of 36 on Sprint Cup circuit

  • Where:

    Richmond International Raceway, Richmond, VA

  • When:

    May 1, 2010 7:44 pm EDT

  • Laps:

    400

  • Track Length:

    0.75 miles

  • Race Length:

    300.00 miles

  • Purse:

    $5,034,763

Drivers to Watch

Kyle Busch Busch, who moved up one spot in the standings and is 160 points out of first, won this race last May and has been consistently outstanding at Richmond -- eight top-five finishes in 10 starts. He was fifth last September. "At Richmond, you try to be easy on the brakes getting in, so you don't lock up getting into the corner or get too loose getting into the corner," he said. "It's really particular there. The center (of the corner) always seems to be a little tight with these cars. And the exit, today, has been so loose. Nobody has any forward bite coming up off the corner, so it's pretty bad. That should make for a pretty interesting race. It's a fun short track. It's pretty fast and it usually spreads out, and you'll get a lot of grooves to choose from. You can pretty much count on the usual exciting short-track racing when you go there."
Jimmie Johnson Johnson's points lead was 108 last week but has been cut to 26 heading to Richmond for Saturday night's 400-lap race. Johnson is a three-time winner at Richmond, all three of those wins coming in the last three years. He swept both races in 2007 and won the September race in 2008. He has one other top-five finish there and no other top-10s in 16 starts. He finished 36th in this race last May and 11th in September. He intends to pick up the pace even more in the next few races. "I look at Martinsville and think that we missed an opportunity there," Johnson said. "Granted, we learned some things for later in the year, and for the overall cause of the 48 and for Hendrick Motorsports, it's going to be beneficial. We had one kind of get away from us at Phoenix; I should have listened to Chad (Knaus, crew chief) and taken two tires. I think we had the 24 (Jeff Gordon) and the 39 (Ryan Newman) beat, we had been faster than them all night long and we would have started up there in the front row and probably had a shot at winning. I look at a couple that have gotten away there but still can't complain all that much. I feel that there are good tracks coming up for us. I feel like we've been able to raise the bottom line at a lot of race tracks, which we need. Tracks where we've struggled -- as big as Indy, and we've won twice there now. I won at Bristol. We're really picking up that bottom line. There's more race wins out there for us, and if we can work through some new ideas with the cars and make sure that we have the right technology at the end of the year, then I think we'll be in great shape."
Jeff Gordon Gordon lost a whopping five positions in the points and is 193 out of first place. He has two wins at Richmond (March 1996 and September 2000), 13 top-five finishes and 22 top-10s in 34 starts, but his recent record is outstanding -- six straight top-10s, which included a streak of three consecutive top-fives. He was eighth last May and third in September. "I've always liked racing here in Richmond, but we went through some races where we sure didn't have runs we were hoping for and it wasn't much fun," Gordon said. "We seem to have turned it around, though, and I'm really looking forward to this weekend's race."
Ryan Newman Newman will be seeking his third straight top-10 finish and fourth in the last five races at Richmond. "After last week, I welcome a short track," said Newman, "especially at Richmond, where we've had success in the past (including a victory in September 2003). We've confident that we will regain the momentum we had prior to Talladega."
Brad Keselowski Keselowski finished 39th in his only Sprint Cup start at Richmond and admits, "Richmond is a place where I'm still learning" when it comes to the Cup cars. Adds crew chief Jay Guy, "Richmond is a fast short track that has a lot of challenges. It almost drives like a speedway because the corner speed is very high."
Kevin Harvick Harvick, who moved up two positions in the point standings with his victory at Talladega, won at Richmond in September 2006. He has four top-five and 11 top-10 finishes in 18 starts there and was 34th last May and ninth in September. That 34th-place finish is his only one out of the top 10 in his last 10 Richmond starts. "Richmond is just one of those places that fit the way that I drive," he said. "It has a lot of heavy braking, and you can trail brake and drag the left-front tire on the apron to make the car turn well through the center of the corner. On the exit of the corner, you want to drive it straight out, and you do that with rear grip. It just fits all the characteristics that my driving style has, and I love racing there. Richmond, if it's not our best race track, then it is definitely in the top three tracks for us. Even when we ran badly last year, we still ran strongly at Richmond. Our bad finish was due to a cut tire, but we were running well at the time. Coming off that win at Talladega and going to one of our best race tracks at Richmond, everyone on the team is very excited."
Jamie McMurray McMurray finished seventh in the spring race at Richmond in 2009 for only his third top-10 finish in 14 starts at the track. "We haven't had a lot of luck at Richmond recently except for the spring race last year," said McMurray, who has finished 25th or worse in six of the last seven races at the track. "I'm hoping we can have another run like we did last May. We certainly need it to stay in the thick of the hunt for the Chase." He is 94 points out of the top 12.
Brian Vickers Vickers finished seventh last September at Richmond for his first top-10 finish in 11 starts at the track. That finish allowed Vickers to qualify for the Chase. "We need another run like that to get things headed back in the right direction," said Vickers, who has fallen from 12th to 25th in the last three races.
Clint Bowyer Bowyer has one win and four top-10 finishes in eight Cup starts at Richmond. He also has won a Nationwide Series race there. "We always seem to have solid runs at Richmond," said Bowyer. "RCR has a pretty rich history there, and I think we've really improved on our short-track program since last year. I think we'll continue that theme this weekend."
Scott Speed Speed didn't fare too well at Richmond in his rookie season -- he finished 39th in the spring race and 33rd last fall. But Speed is looking forward to this weekend for a simple reason: "We are running so much better this year," he said. In the season's first nine races, Speed has five lead-lap finishes compared to only six during his entire 2009 rookie year.
Mark Martin Martin moved up four positions and is 169 out of the Cup lead. His only Richmond win came all the way back in February 1990. He has 17 top-five finishes, including the last four races, and 27 top-10s in 48 starts. He was fifth last May and fourth in September. "Richmond is a favorite of the fans as well as the drivers," Martin said. "It's big enough that you can get out there and put a lot of cars out there. It's also got great racing room on it (with) the transitions and the banking and just the way it runs. You can run multiple lines around the race track, and it's some of the best racing that we do all year. It's fun. It's just fun to race there."
Kurt Busch Busch, who gained two places in the standings and is 177 back of first place, won at Richmond in September 2005 but has only three top-five and six top-10 finishes in 18 starts. He was 12th last May and second in September. He's been better there lately -- four top-10s in his last six starts. "It's just a fun track to race on, whether the track conditions are perfect or not," Busch said. "It seems like you can race guys side-by-side and do it at the beginning of a run or at the end of runs. Then it becomes a challenge between short-track setups as well as what you might do on the intermediate mile-and-a-half tracks. Mainly, getting your car to turn in the center of the corner is the toughest part of racing there. Making your car good in the long runs is also very important at Richmond. I think it's the speed you have, yet with the close confines and close battles you see out on the race track. You are side-by-side and bumping and leaning on somebody, while you still have the speed that shows up as well. It's not like Martinsville, where you feel like you're parking lot racing."
Jeff Burton Burton has one win and 14 top-10 finishes in 31 starts at Richmond. "I have really high expectations going into this weekend's race because of the way we have ran on the short tracks despite not logging good finishes," said Burton. "We ran exceptionally well at Martinsville and Phoenix (earlier this year), which leads to my optimism about running well."
Tony Stewart Stewart has finished second in two of the last three races at Richmond. He also was second in the fall race of 2007 and the spring race of 2003 and has finished in the top 10 in five of the last six races and eight of the last 10 events there. He scored all three of his Richmond wins between September 1999 and May 2002.
Juan Pablo Montoya Montoya finished 10th in the spring race at Richmond a year ago for his lone top-10 finish at the track in six starts. "We have struggled at Richmond, so it is not one of my favorite tracks," said Montoya. "But we have run good everywhere we've been this year, so maybe things will be different this weekend."
Matt Kenseth Kenseth, who lost two places in the standings and is 99 points out of the lead, won at Richmond winner September 2002 and has three top-five finishes and nine top-10s in 20 starts. He was 13th last April and 25th in September. He is another Roush Fenway driver who has a streak of bad finishes at Richmond -- Kenseth has not finished in the top 10 in his last five Richmond starts.
Kasey Kahne Kahne scored his first Cup win at Richmond in May 2005. He won the pole that weekend and dominated the race, leading seven times for 242 laps. "It is the ideal short track -- wide, fast, smooth, very competitive, and there's plenty of room to set up the pass," said Kahne. "We've had pretty good success there in the past (five top-10s in 12 starts), so I always look forward to going back."
Joey Logano Logano finished 14th last fall at Richmond for his best finish in two starts at the track during his rookie season. "I'm hoping Richmond will help us recover from Talladega," said Logano. "We ran really strong last year and finished in the top 20 in both races, which was really good for us last season. We need a solid run to get us back up in points."
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Earnhardt, who lost one position in the standings and is 181 points out of the lead, has three wins (May 2000, May 2004 and May 2006) at Richmond, eight top-five finishes and 10 top-10s in 21 starts. But he has just one top-10 finish in his last seven starts there and was 27th last May and 21st in September. "I like Richmond a lot," he said. "It's a lot like Myrtle Beach (S.C.), where I ran a lot in the late models. There are a lot of similarities. But I just like short-track racing. We seem to do really good on the short tracks. It's got a lot of different grooves that you can run. You can move around. I think the track puts on one of the more exciting races in the season. We got a couple good race tracks coming up. We do pretty good at Darlington. I always love running at Charlotte."
Martin Truex Jr. Truex has only one top-10 finish in eight starts at Richmond. But he believes he will have a "real good weekend this time around. We ran in the top 10 all day at Martinsville and ended up fifth," said Truex. "So I am really looking forward to Richmond. I think we can have another day like we had at Martinsville."
Carl Edwards Edwards has three top-10 finishes in 11 starts at Richmond. "I've always enjoyed racing at Richmond, although I don't really have the results to show for it," said Edwards. "I'm encouraged by the progress we've made with our short-track package so far this season. We had solid runs at Martinsville and Bristol, so I'm excited about Richmond."
Denny Hamlin Hamlin, who climbed two spots in the standings and is 185 points back of the lead, has one win, four top-five finishes and five top-10 finishes in eight Richmond starts. He was 14th last May, and his victory came last September. He has two finishes in the top three in the last three races and four top-10s in his last six Richmond starts. "I've got a great feel for that race track," Hamlin said. "It's just a track that we've always run extremely competitive at. The good thing about it is that I knew once we got that Texas win last week, coming here and then going to Richmond right after, we had a chance to win three races in a row. I do believe that. I told my guys, if we're running with three or four laps to go, I don't see any reason why we should lose this race. What I'm hoping is that we go back there and we're as competitive as what we always are. Of course, there's hometown weekend and, of course, my short-track Showdown weekend. That's a big weekend for myself and the whole race team. I always like to perform as good as we can. The only thing is we are going back to a heavy braking race track again in Richmond. So hopefully we make a little bit more strides with the recovery (from his knee surgery)."
Paul Menard Menard is still looking for his first top-10 finish at Richmond. His best finish in six starts is a 16th, which came in his first Cup race at the short track. Menard said is "really pleased with the effort of everybody at Richard Petty Motorsports. We've made big gains (in 2010), but the hard work is still in front of us and we just have to keep digging."
Greg Biffle Biffle, who remained third in the standings and is 86 out of the lead, has no wins, two top-five finishes and five top-10s in 15 Richmond starts. He is hoping to break a streak of six straight races outside the top 10 at Richmond. He was 17th last May and 13th last September. "Richmond is definitely a drivers' track," Biffle said. "I think that's one of the biggest reasons I have always liked it. It allows for really good racing, and the night race this weekend will be exciting for the fans no matter what. We struggled there a little the last couple of years, but I know the guys have been working hard to make sure we don't have the same problems again. I'm also optimistic that the return of the spoiler will help us out."
David Ragan Ragan has only one top-10 finish in six starts at Richmond, a third in the fall of 2007. He will be driving the same car he ran earlier this year at Martinsville, where he finished 16th. "After a good run last week in Talladega, I feel like our team has some momentum headed into Richmond this weekend," said Ragan.