Race Weekend Central

Stat Sheet: Hendrick Dominating Richmond Is the Field’s Worst Nightmare

From 2009 to 2022, Hendrick Motorsports scored 113 wins at the NASCAR Cup Series level.

The number of wins that came at Richmond Raceway? One.

It was in April 2021, and it wasn’t a race that Hendrick had dominated in particular. Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. combined to lead 314 of the 400 laps, but it was Alex Bowman who snookered Hamlin on a late restart, as he led just the final 10 laps to score Hendrick’s first win at Richmond since September 2008 with Jimmie Johnson.

See also
Thinkin' Out Loud at Richmond: Does the Championship Already Belong to Hendrick?

Hendrick has dominated the start of 2023, as William Byron and Kyle Larson have combined to lead more than 43% of the laps run through seven races this year (748 of 1,735). Individually, Byron (385) and Larson (363) have led more laps than every other team; the four cars of Joe Gibbs Racing have combined to lead 238 laps this year, the second-highest total for a team behind Hendrick.

And just as it has each week, Hendrick backed up its Sunday (April 2) win at Richmond with dominant cars.

The team combined to lead 228 of the 400 laps, with Byron (117) and Larson (93) accounting for the bulk of it. The duo had been battling the JGR cars of Hamlin, Truex and Christopher Bell throughout the race, but it was a late spin by Tyler Reddick that allowed Larson to take the lead on pit road and set sail for his first win of the season.

And with Hendrick’s relatively poor track record at Richmond since the start of the 2010s decade, all the other teams have to be beside themselves about the showing Hendrick just put up.

Richmond By the Numbers

Sunday marked the debut of NASCAR’s new aero package for short tracks and road courses at Richmond. With that, the race had noticeable differences when compared to the Richmond of the last few years.

3,816: The number of green flag passes at Richmond through NASCAR’s loop data (this includes passes at every scoring loop as well as passes that occur during green flag pit stops).

  • Sunday marked the most green-flag passes at Richmond since loop data became available in 2005.

8: The number of cautions on Sunday.

  • This represents the most cautions in a Richmond race since April 2017, a race that had nine.
  • The previous seven races at Richmond had five cautions or less. The September 2020 race had the fewest with three, and none of them were for incidents (two stage cautions and a competition caution).
  • Despite the frequency of cautions, the race still managed to have a green-flag run of 130 laps in stage two.

14: The number of laps in the final green flag run of the afternoon.

  • Of the previous seven races at Richmond, five of them ended with a green-flag run longer than 100 laps.
  • Sunday marked the shortest dash to the finish at Richmond since the aforementioned April 2021 race, where the final restart was with 12 laps to go.

43: The number of Cup Series drivers that have scored at least 20 wins.

  • Larson is now tied with Speedy Thompson for 42nd on the all-time wins list after No. 20 at Richmond.

2002: The most recent year that a substitute driver won a Cup race.

  • Jamie McMurray filled in for an injured Sterling Marlin in the fall, and he won in his second career start at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October.
  • Josh Berry came just one spot short of adding his name to the list, as he scored a runner-up finish at Richmond in just his sixth Cup start.

Saturday Synopsis

Nick Sanchez led 97.7% (168 of 172 laps) in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday (April 1), but it was not enough to win after a crash on the final lap.

  • Sanchez led more laps than the scheduled distance of 167.
  • While it would appear that failing to win after leading 97.7% of the race would be the largest percentage in Truck Series history, it is not; Jimmy Hensley led 200 of the 202 laps (99.0%) at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park in 1997, but it was Ron Hornaday who led the final two laps after passing Hensley in an overtime restart.
  • Since Sanchez would’ve won if the race ended at lap 167, the driver that would’ve won at the scheduled distance has gone on to win three of the 18 (16.7%) overtime finishes in the Truck Series since 2021.

Through four qualifying sessions in his Truck career (qualifying at Atlanta Motor Speedway was rained out), Sanchez has an average start of 2.0 with two poles, a second and a fourth.

With his first NASCAR Xfinity Series win at Richmond Raceway, Chandler Smith joins AJ Allmendinger as the only Xfinity drivers at Kaulig Racing to win at a non-superspeedway.

See also
Daytona to Dirt: Alex Bowman, Kyle Larson Commit to Inaugural High Limit Sprint Car Series

Up Next: Bristol Motor Speedway on Dirt

Two races on dirt, one with the Next Gen car. Do prior results mean anything?

  • When the dirt race at Bristol debuted in 2021, the expectation was that the drivers with a dirt background would dominate the event. That proved to be the opposite of what happened.
  • Joey Logano won the inaugural race while Truex, Logano and Daniel Suarez combined to lead all but eight laps; none of them had significant dirt experience.
  • 2022 saw 185 of the 250 laps led by Reddick, Larson and Chase Briscoe, drivers with a dirt racing background. Suarez led 64 laps, Logano finished third and Kyle Busch took home the win after the top two Reddick and Briscoe spun on the final lap.
  • While not a perfect science, look for more of the dirt-background drivers to shine in year three. They just about had last year’s race with the Next Gen car on lock, and with their strong results to start off the season, the trio of Larson, Bell and Reddick will be tough to beat.

Drivers to Watch

  • Busch won last year’s event on the final lap, and he now drives for the No. 8 Richard Childress Racing team that Reddick led the most laps (99) with last year.
  • Even with minimal dirt experience, Logano will be another factor out front; finishes of first and third in the first two events speak for themselves.
  • With Suarez’s strong showings, he and Trackhouse Racing teammate Ross Chastain cannot be overlooked.
  • Reddick, Bell, Larson, Briscoe, points leader Alex Bowman and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. are among the most prominent drivers with a dirt racing background.
  • Jonathan Davenport, a regular winner in prestigious dirt races across the country, will be making his Truck Series and Cup Series debut this weekend.

Stay Tuned

The Food City Dirt Race will take place on Easter Sunday, April 9, at 7 p.m. ET. The race will be televised on FOX.

About the author

Stephen Stumpf is the NASCAR Content Director for Frontstretch, and his weekly columns include “Stat Sheet” and “4 Burning Questions.” Stephen also writes commentary, contributes weekly to the “Bringing the Heat” podcast and is frequently at the track for on-site coverage. A native of Texas, Stephen began following NASCAR at age 9 after attending his first race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Follow on Twitter @stephen_stumpf.

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