What to Watch: Full guide to Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway

Terrin Waack
·7 min read

Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway (⏰ 3 p.m. ET | 📺 FOX | 📻 MRN, SiriusXM)

Everything you need to know for Sunday’s race, the ninth points-paying NASCAR Cup Series event of the 2021 season.

Where: Richmond Raceway, a .75-mile oval located in Richmond, Virginia
Green flag: 3 p.m. ET
TV/Radio: FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Forecast: Mostly sunny, with a high near 67. Calm wind becoming northwest around 6 mph in the morning, according to NOAA.gov
National anthem: Alana Springsteen, country music singer, recording artist and songwriter
Grand marshal: Todd Thompson, proud owner of a 2012 Toyota Camry & VIP customer of Mechanicsville Toyota
Race Distance: 400 laps, 300 miles
Stages: 80 | 235 | 400
Pit-road speed: 40 mph
Caution car speed: 45 mph
Richmond 101: Get the full lowdown
Starting lineup: See the full lineup

Watch OSS Inspection:
Live at 8 a.m. ET
Pit stall assignments: See who is pitting where
| Expert breaks down pit selections

2021 Richmond
2021 Richmond

Five to watch

Here are five big story lines we’ll be following at Richmond Raceway.

1. Martin Truex Jr. has won five of the last 11 short-track races, including last weekend’s event at Martinsville Speedway. He is the NASCAR Cup Series’ only repeat winner in 2021 and could very well become a three-time winner Sunday at Richmond. The driver of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has won two of the last three Richmond races, and the only one he didn’t (2020), he finished second.

2. Kyle Busch has claimed a series-best six wins at Richmond. It’s his second-best track on the circuit when it comes to career wins, only behind his eight trophies from Bristol Motor Speedway. The driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota also boasts the longest active streak of top-10 Richmond finishes at six in a row.

3. The last time Hendrick Motorsports won at Richmond was in 2008 with Jimmie Johnson, who is now retired from full-time NASCAR competition. Two of the four HMS drivers have already won this season: William Byron at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Kyle Larson at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Alex Bowman has just one top 10 in nine career starts at Richmond, and Chase Elliott has three top fives in 10 career starts there.

4. Team Penske and Joe Gibbs Racing, meanwhile, have combined to win 11 of the last 13 races at Richmond. Gibbs is responsible for seven of those, leaving Penske with four.

5. Kevin Harvick‘s 2021 season is taking a turn in the wrong directions. The driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford hasn’t won in 15 races (longest streak since 2018-19), has not led laps in the last seven races (longest streak since 2017), hasn’t pulled off a top-five finish in the last five races (longest streak since 2019) and has no stage points in the last three races (longest streak ever). Harvick has won three times before at Richmond, but the most recent win was in 2013.

Race-day staples

Byron Com Powerrankings Hero 922x493
Byron Com Powerrankings Hero 922x493

Our biggest pieces of the week — get covered for race day from all angles.
Power Rankings: William Byron among the elite in early going | Scope the ranks
Paint Scheme Preview: Check out the designs taking on Richmond | See the schemes
Fantasy Fastlane: See which drivers to use, avoid | Full Fantasy advice | Set your roster
Preview Show: Jonathan Merryman and Alex Weaver preview the race | Watch the show

Get in on the action

Think you know NASCAR? Put your mettle to the test with gaming, fantasy.
Betting odds for Richmond race | See the odds
Long betting odds tell the story of struggling preseason favorites | Learn how
Is Martin Truex Jr. an overpriced favorite at Richmond? | Find out
Not-so-happy Kevin Harvick going through 2021 rough patch | Full analysis
Take a shot at winning cash prizes with the free-to-play Jackpot Races app | Hit the jackpot
Full guide to 2021 NASCAR Fantasy Live game | Get the FAQ

Track history

Every track has a story to tell. Here’s what we’ve seen go down at Richmond Raceway in the past.

2021 Richmond3
2021 Richmond3

Short-track masters: Active drivers with most short-track wins | See the list
A first in Virginia: Drivers with first win at Richmond | See the list
Spring has sprung: Richmond’s all-time spring race winners | See the list
Front of the pack: Top 10 lap leaders at Richmond | See the list
Rockin’ around Richmond: Memorable moments at Richmond | See the list

Fast facts

Hard-hitting, race-relevant statistics, brought to you by the experts at Racing Insights.
Four of the last five Richmond races were won by Joe Gibbs Racing drivers. JGR has won seven of the last 10 Richmond races.
The race winner started in the top 10 in 10 of the last 12 Richmond races. The last 11 short-track races were won from a top-10 starting position.
There were five cautions or less in the last four Richmond races.
Two of the last three Richmond events had a green-flag stretch of more than 148 laps to finish race.
The last three Richmond winners led more than 100 laps. The eventual winner did not lead for the first time until Lap 111 or later in six of the last seven Richmond races. And the final lead change was before 25 to go in the last four Richmond races.

Catch the pack

Read up on all the headlines from the week leading up to Sunday’s race.
• Snow Day: NASCAR hits the ice in France | Read more
• Josh Berry:
Capitalizing on JR Motorsports opportunities | Read more
• Where are they now:
Catching up with Ricky Rudd | Read more
• The NASCAR Foundation:
15th anniversary on Betty Jane France’s birthday | Read more
• Triple Truck Challenge:
Womply to serve as presenting sponsor | Read more
• Cup Series:
Gaunt Brothers Racing taps Harrison Burton at Talladega | Read more

Say what?

Notable quotes from the stars of the sport heading into Sunday’s race.

“Richmond is kind of a hit-or-miss track for me. Even though I have a victory and some good finishes, I haven‘t had too many great runs there. It seems like there have been several times I have been average at Richmond but then come home with a top-five finish. I‘m really looking forward to this weekend because we have had speed it seems like every week this year.” — Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

“Richmond is just a super technical track. It gets really slick. Cars fall off a lot. You lose a lot of forward drive over the run. You lose a lot of center turn. You get really loose in on the brakes. It‘s a heavy braking track, so there are just a lot of challenges from the driver side and from the setup side to try to be really balanced over the course of a run.”

— Jeremy Bullins, crew chief of the No. 2 Team Penske Ford

2021 Martintruexjr Richmond
2021 Martintruexjr Richmond

“Richmond is a really fun race track. It‘s very low grip. I think tire wear is always the big question; how fast are you on the short run, and how does that help or hurt you on the long run. You need to be able to intertwine those two and be good enough at both to stay at the front and then have something at the end. It always depends on if it comes down to a long run or a short run to the checkers, but it‘s definitely a fun track. It‘s always a challenge to get your car to do the things that it needs to do to win there. It never wants to turn good enough and it never has enough drive off, so it‘s a typical short track and that makes for an exciting race.” — Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

“I‘m interested to see what this weekend‘s race will be like. Normally, we run at Richmond at night, so it‘s going to be a different challenge this year racing during the day. It‘s already so low on grip that you‘re going to be moving around no matter what. I feel like the track is going to change a lot as the race goes on as well. It‘s going to be a learning curve as the run goes on to keep up with what your car needs.” — William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet