The NASCAR regular season is down to its final race before the start of the playoffs. Denny Hamlin is coming off a win last weekend and will be looking to defend his Federated Auto Parts 400 title. However, a host of other drivers will be going all out in search of a morale-boosting win ahead of the playoffs. Read on below for our preview of the 2017 Federated Auto Parts 400.
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2017 Federated Auto Parts 400 Preview
Kyle Busch will enter the final race of the regular season in fantastic form. He’s won two out of the past five races, and is coming off back-to-back top-2 finishes in Bristol and Darlington.
Busch has four career wins at Richmond, which leads all active drivers. And while his last win came all the way back in 2012, he has come close with back-to-back 2nd-place finishes in 2015 and 2016.
Martin Truex Jr.
Martin Truex has cooled off a bit recently, but he’s not that far removed from an insane run of five top-three finishes in six races. The current Monster Energy Cup series points leader will look to preserve his lead atop the standings heading into the playoffs.
Truex doesn’t have the most sparkling record at Richmond, but his past few performances have been promising. He had his best ever finish at the track (3rd) around this time last year and also finished in the top-10 after starting third during the first race at Richmond this season.
It’s been a long while since Johnson has been in contention to pick up a victory. He’s finished no better than 10th in his last 12 starts. However, playoff time is coming, which is right around the time where Johnson gets going.
No. 48 has been one of the more successful active drivers at Richmond. He has four career wins at the track, and while he has finished third twice in the last two years, his last win was nearly a decade ago in 2008.
Denny Hamlin has been one of the most consistent drivers for nearly half the season. Hamlin has eight top-four finishes in his last 10 races, which includes his win at Darlington last week.
Not only will Hamlin be gunning for his second win in two weeks, but he’ll also be looking to defend his Auto Parts 400 crown after winning this race last year. Hamlin has three wins overall at the track and thirteen top-ten finishes in twenty-two career starts.
The 8th-placed Kenseth is currently the highest-placed driver in the standings who has yet to win a single race this season, but he will be looking to change that heading into the playoffs.
Richmond figures to be an ideal track for him to do just that. Kenseth has two career victories at Richmond and looked to be headed for a third back in April as he won pole and led for 164 laps. Unfortunately, he crashed out on a late restart. Look for him to try and make up for that lost opportunity this weekend.
Newman’s spot in the playoffs looks secure at the moment thanks to his win at Phoenix earlier this season. But he can put his inclusion beyond doubt if he ends the season with a win at Richmond. Newman has a decent track record at the track, with 17 top-10 finishes in 31 starts, and a win.
And after winning at Phoenix, which is a track that’s similar to Richmond, Newman is a decent long shot bet to add to his career win tally this weekend.
Busch enters the playoffs with his third win in six races as he comes away victorious at Richmond.
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