Welcome to NASCAR’s spring short track run.
Sunday’s race at Richmond (3:30 p.m. ET, Fox) is the first of three consecutive races at short tracks. After Richmond , the Cup Series heads to Martinsville for the only Saturday night race of the first half of the season. Then the Cup Series goes to Bristol on Easter night for the second race on dirt at the half-mile track.
While Richmond is officially a short track at 0.75 miles long, it has raced a lot like a speedway in recent years and we’re fascinated to see if that changes with the new Cup car.
The fall Richmond race in 2016 had a track-record 16 cautions. Since then, no Richmond race has seen more than nine cautions. And no Richmond race since the fall of 2018 has featured more than five cautions.
That’s a dramatic downward shift, especially as NASCAR implemented two stage cautions per race in 2017. That means there have been a maximum of three organic cautions in each of the last six races at the track.
Perhaps the new car will bring back crashing and spinning. Just one race in that six-race span has featured cautions for what NASCAR officially classified as multi-car crashes. That’s a stat that’s almost too impossible to believe.
Here’s what you need to know to bet on Sunday’s race. All odds are via BetMGM.
Chase Elliott (+800)
Kyle Busch (+900)
Kyle Larson (+900)
Martin Truex Jr. (+900)
Denny Hamlin (+900)
Joey Logano (+1000)
William Byron (+1000)
Elliott enters as the favorite thanks to an average finish of 11.3 despite no wins in 12 starts at Richmond. He’s finished outside the top 15 just once since the spring of 2017. Busch is the active driver with the most wins at Richmond (six) and has an average finish of 6.9. Larson has two poles at Richmond and his lone win at the track came in 2017. Hamlin and Truex Jr. have three wins apiece and Logano has two. Byron, meanwhile, is here because of Hendrick Motorsports’ success this season. He has just one top-10 finish in seven Richmond starts.
Good mid-tier value
Christopher Bell (+1400)
Alex Bowman (+1800)
Bell has two top-five finishes in three Richmond starts and an average finish of 7.3. Bowman won the 2021 spring race and has finished in the top 12 in each of his last three starts at the track.
Don’t bet this driver
Ross Chastain (+1200)
Chastain’s odds are short because of his win at COTA. He did finish 15th and seventh a season ago for Chip Ganassi Racing but there’s little reason to believe he’ll be in victory lane for the second consecutive week.
Looking for a long shot?
Kurt Busch (+5000)
Busch’s recent Richmond performances have left a little to be desired. He hasn’t finished in the top 10 since he was fourth in the 2017 fall race. But Busch ran anywhere between 11th and 18th in the races since before he crashed out early last fall. He’s a two-time Richmond winner who was fifth in the points before a late crash at COTA.