Track profile: Richmond International Raceway

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Richmond International Raceway basics

Track Type: Short track
Distance: 0.75 Mile D-Shaped Oval
Banking/Turns: 14 degrees banking | Frontstretch: 8 degrees banking | Backstretch: 2 degrees

Inside look

The lights at Richmond have been shining brightly since 1991. But the race itself has been running strong since Lee Petty took the checkers in 1953. From then on, it was a Petty family affair. Lee's son, Richard, won a record 13 Richmond runs from 1961-75; even grandson Kyle got in on the action in 1986. Three generations of Pettys have combined for 16 wins at Richmond. But the father-son duo of Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are halfway there, with eight checkered flags. The Intimidator had five wins from 1985-91; Junior has thrived in the spotlight three times — in May of 2000, '04 and '06. As far as the all-time wins list is concerned, "The King" (13) has nearly lapped the field. Bobby Allison comes closest, with seven checkers, while Rusty Wallace, Darrell Waltrip and David Pearson won six races apiece. Recently, Jimmie Johnson has been on a Petty-like pace, winning three of the last four runs at the D-shaped oval short track. After sweeping in 2007, the 48 car won a drag race to the line against runner-up Tony Stewart in September last year — a race that was moved from Saturday night to Sunday due to Tropical Storm Hanna. Clint Bowyer was able to hang on for the second win of his career in May last year in a race that ran 10 laps past the scheduled 400. Kyle Busch was runner-up to Bowyer and appears poised to win at Richmond, with six top 5s in eight career runs at the track.
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Also, look out for Chesterfield, Va., native Denny Hamlin, who has three top 5s, along with two poles, in six career Richmond races.

Getting around the track

Getting the car to roll through the center of the corner is the key to a fast lap at Richmond. While that tends to cause a drop in speed off the corner, a car that turns well in the center uses less brake, and that's a good thing on a short track where brakes can get hot. Most teams run a short track brake package even though Richmond runs faster than its 3/4-mile layout suggests.

What to watch for

Looking at Checkers: Jimmie Johnson. Pretty Solid Pick: Home-state favorite Denny Hamlin. Good Sleeper Pick: Dale Earnhardt Jr. seems to enjoy Richmond as much as his father, who had 33 top-10 finishes in 44 career starts. Runs on Seven Cylinders: Juan Pablo Montoya Insider Tip: Tony Stewart has 14 top 10s in 20 Cup starts here, including three wins.

Classic Talladega Moment

Darrell Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt stage one of the classic battles of the '80s in the 1986 Miller High Life 400 on Richmond's half-mile Fairgrounds configuration. Earnhardt leads as the race winds down with Waltrip banging his bumper until his No. 11 Budweiser Chevy finally slides by in Turn 2 with four laps to go. As the two dive into Turn 3, Earnhardt's No. 3 Wrangler Chevy hooks Waltrip's right rear quarterpanel, sending both into the wall as well as collecting the third- and fourth-place cars of Joe Ruttman and Geoff Bodine. Fifth-place Kyle Petty in the No. 7 Wood Brothers Ford zips past to collect his first career Winston Cup victory in a race that ends under caution. "That's just racin'," Earnhardt says from the cockpit of his car afterwards. "Me and Darrell gotta race week-to-week ... there ain't nothin' to it."
Tagged: Geoff Bodine, Kyle Petty, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Joe Ruttman

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