Atlanta was a repeat race, but Atlanta is a plate track. Watching the first Atlanta race to prepare for the second race was pointless. Richmond is different. We can glean a lot from the first Richmond race. As always, trust the spreadsheet but also trust your eyes. Here are the best bets for the NASCAR Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond, which gets underway Sunday, August 14 at 3 p.m. ET.
What is so special about Richmond in the Next Gen car? Nothing. It’s the same, old Richmond. The only thing special is that gamblers can use notes from the previous race to make better NASCAR bets.
No more guessing this week. What track will Richmond race like? It will race like Richmond. Watch the race over. Go over the lap-by-lap data. Analyze the different pit strategies. There is a ton of useful data available this weekend.
A careful analysis of the first Richmond race — or any Richmond race for that matter — will reveal that passing is difficult at this short, flat track. Passing inside the top 5 is rare and passing for the lead is a unicorn.
Despite the blue moon status of these passes, they do happen. Their occurrences are not the result of speed or skill. Those criteria are required, but they are not a deciding factor. Passes for the lead, and consequently the win, are the result of pit sequencing. Whether a team divides a stage into halves or thirds determines results. It’s hard to say which strategy will work for any given race. The two stop strategy is the conservative approach and tends to favor the fastest cars, but one caution flag in Stage 3 can turn this race on its head. Regardless of strategy or cautions, the winning car is always one of the fastest.
Race Winner — Federated Auto Parts 400
Christopher Bell +800
He was the pick to win last week with fairly long odds. Sure enough, he was battling for the win late in Stage 3. Unfortunately, he was battling with Ross Chastain and those battles always end with wrecked race cars and Michigan wasn’t any different.
Bell won at the short, flat track in New Hampshire a couple weeks ago. That’s a track he absolutely owned in the Xfinity Series. Bell has been just as good if not better at Richmond in the Xfinity Series (three wins). He was a contender in the first Richmond race and the No. 20 car has gotten a lot better since that early spring race.
Alex Bowman +3000
The DraftKings Sportsbook isn’t giving Bowman any respect. He won the spring 2021 Richmond race. In the 2022 spring race, he recovered from a pit road penalty to earn a top-10 finish. Passing is difficult at Richmond, but Bowman has demonstrated that he can get it done. Richmond is all about having a driver in contention at the end, and Bowman will be in contention at the end. This would not be the first time the oddsmakers put long odds on Bowman and he came through with a win.
Any Hendrick Motorsports Car to Win the Race +240
Joe Gibbs Racing is the favorite (-110), and they should be after how they performed in the spring and how they have performed historically at Richmond. Betting JGR at -110 wouldn’t be a bad idea if raw speed won at Richmond, but it doesn’t. This race is settled by pit road and timing. In the spring of 2021, JGR had this race wrapped up until a late race causation created a shootout finish. Alex Bowman won that shootout. A car only needs to be fast enough to take advantage of the crucial sequencing of Stage 3. Each of the Hendrick cars had that speed in the spring race.
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Team Hendrick to all Finish in the Top 10 +900
As mentioned above, the Hendrick cars had speed in the spring race. William Byron ran up front early and at the end. Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman worked their way through the field demonstrating their cars’ rare ability to pass. In Stage 1, Chase Elliott was working his way around cars inside the top 10.
Hendrick, as a whole, has been on the outs lately. Elliott is on another level, but his teammates have been inconsistent. This is partly due to the strange mixture of tracks each week and the summer surge of JGR. Hendrick might be down, but they’re not out. This will be a week where HMS establishes itself as a main contender heading into the playoffs.
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