Stop me if you’ve heard this before – Team Penske, Joe Gibbs Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing are the teams to beat in this weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at the Richmond Raceway. Oh wait, you have?
Of course you have.
We’re eight races into the 2019 season and Penske and JGR have won all eight of them. If you go back to the final two races of the 2018 campaign, these organizations won those as well. Combined, that’s 10 straight.
If you look at how strong SHR has been and their win in the third to last race of 2018 and you get these three organizations with 11 straight Cup wins. Why would it stop in the ninth race of the season in Saturday night’s Toyota Owners 400 (7 p.m. ET/FOX/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)?
The oddsmakers have them all listed as the favorites. The only driver not of their group to be among the top favorites is Chase Elliott at +1000.
So, here are the ones to bet on and whom not to wager on this weekend.
Kyle Busch (+225)
These odds are very low but do you really want to pick against him? After all, it’s about winning money right? Busch, had a bad car last weekend in Bristol and he still won. On short tracks this season, he’s won two of the three (Phoenix, Bristol) and was third (Martinsville) in the other.
Busch just earned his third win of this season to go along with a top 10 in all eight races. At Richmond, he’s won six times to go along with 20 top 10 finishes in 27 tries. He swept both races in his No. 18 Toyota a year ago. Also, Busch has four top two finishes in his last seven Richmond tries.
He’s also won five of the last nine spring races on the .75-mile Virginia oval to go along with 11 top five finishes in 13 spring race starts at Richmond. Furthermore, he has eight top two finishes in that same time frame.
He qualified fifth in his No. 18 Toyota after being fourth in practice earlier on Friday on single lap runs and quickest on the 10 lap average chart.
Joey Logano (+700)
Two years ago, Penske finished 1-2 in the spring race. Yes, the race was run in the heat of the day and yes, it resulted in an encumbered finish, but Richmond has been kind to both Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski these days.
Logano, has three top four finishes in his No. 22 Ford in his last four Richmond starts. Furthermore, he’s scored nine top 10’s in his last 10 tries. He was third last weekend in Bristol and has four top four finishes already in 2019.
The Connecticut native starts fourth on Saturday.
Kevin Harvick (+700)
He’s due for a win. Harvick, has finished in the top five in seven of his last nine Richmond starts. In fact, five of those seven were fifth place finishes. He was fifth in the spring race last year and runner-up in the playoff race. Yes, he only has three top fives this season and none since Fontana, I’d still watch out for his No. 4 Ford on Saturday night. He starts on the pole.
Martin Truex Jr. (+800)
Truex, only has scored two top five finishes on the .75-mile oval since 2008. But, he does have four top 10 finishes in his last six races overall at Richmond and has even led over 100 laps in four of his last five races too. Also, he was seventh in practice on Friday and qualified his No. 19 Toyota sixth.
Chase Elliott (+1000)
If anyone other than JGR or Penske is going to win, it appears that Hendrick Motorsports may be the best bet. Chase Elliott finished second last month in Martinsville and appeared to have a car just as good, if not stronger than race winner’s Brad Keselowski. Elliott, finished second and fourth respectively at Richmond last year and has three straight top 10 finishes overall on the track in his No. 9 Chevrolet. He starts seventh.
Great Value Bets
Jimmie Johnson (+2000)
Johnson could even shine too. He finished sixth and eighth respectively last year in his No. 48 Chevrolet to go along with a top 11 finish in his last nine Richmond starts. He’s starting to heat up on the season and is a driver that could end his winless drought on Saturday. He will roll off 10th on Saturday night.
Kurt Busch (+2000)
Busch enters this weekend with a top 10 finish in all but two races in 2019. Busch, also is a past winner of the spring race in Richmond as well as has five top 11 finishes in his last six tries. He qualified third after being eighth in practice. For these odds, yes.
Erik Jones (+2500)
He’s a good short track racer and was has three top 13 finishes in four Richmond tries. Jones, qualified on the front row (2nd) and was fourth on long run speed in practice on Friday.
Daniel Suarez (+6000)
Suarez, also has been hot as of late in improving his finishes in each of the last four weeks. He has three top 12 finishes in four Richmond starts. This weekend, Suarez was sixth on single lap runs, 10th on 10 lap averages and starts ninth on Saturday.
Alex Bowman (+10000)
He finished eighth in this race last year and 12th in the fall race in his No. 88 Chevrolet. He will start 17th on Saturday too. Could be a sleeper.
Austin Dillon (+10000)
He has three top 15 finishes in his last five Richmond starts including a sixth place run last fall. Dillon, even qualified his No. 3 Chevrolet eighth too.
Brad Keselowski (+700)
Keselowski, hasn’t finished worse than 11th at Richmond since the spring race in 2015. Since 2014, the Michigan native has scored seven top 10 finishes in 10 starts in his No. 2 Ford. Out of his last seven starts on the season, he has four top three finishes. But, he will only start fourth after being 22nd in practice on Friday. He doesn’t seem to have the car to win, yet.
Hamlin has two wins on the season to go along with a top 11 finish in all eight races run. He’s also scored a top six finish in six of his last seven Richmond starts to go along with a win in 2016. He has three overall wins in Richmond and was third in the spring race last year. He only qualified 18th though.
Kyle Larson (+2000)
Larson hasn’t won a race since the fall race at Richmond in 2017 and is looking to end that drought on the same track where he last tasted victory in a Cup car. Larson, finished seventh in his No. 42 Chevrolet in both races last year and has four top seven finishes overall in his last five Richmond starts. He was quickest in practice on Friday but only qualified 14th. That’s why he’s questionable still.
Aric Almirola (+2000)
He’s off to his best start of his NASCAR career to go along with finishing fifth in the fall race last year. Almirola, also has two top 10 finishes at Richmond in his days with Richard Petty Motorsports too. But, he was only 15th in qualifying and 13th in practice in both short run as well as long run speed.
Ryan Blaney (+1200)
For whatever reason, Blaney has just has struggled in Richmond. In six career Cup Series starts, he has never finished in the top 15, let alone led a lap. He only qualified 29th this weekend too.
Clint Bowyer (+2000)
Clint Bowyer scored two top 10 finishes at Richmond last year and enters on the heels of three top seven finishes in his last three starts on the season. But, Bowyer was only 31st in practice on Friday and qualified just 21st.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (+10000)
He hasn’t scored a top 10 finish since Vegas. In fact, his last top 15 came via a 14th place finish in Fontana. Also, Stenhouse has just one career top 10 finish in Richmond. He was 23rd and 13th respectively last year too.