Two of NASCAR‘s national series continue their seasons this weekend with races at Richmond Raceway in Virginia. The short track is one of racing’s most popular, and it will serve as the site of an action-packed weekend as multiple drivers push to secure a spot in the playoffs.
The Camping World Truck Series will start the weekend off with Saturday’s ToyotaCare 250. The national series traditionally races on Friday nights, but the Xfinity Series is off until April 24. Hailie Deegan, Ben Rhodes, John Hunter Nemechek, and the other Truck Series drivers now have another opportunity to impress in front of the weekend crowd.
Lights, camera … Action Track! 🍿
Tell your friends. 👇 pic.twitter.com/7aECYAOQCC
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) April 13, 2021
The Cup Series season will continue on Sunday with the Toyota Owners 400. The 2021 season has featured seven different race winners in only eight races, but only one driver has officially booked his ticket to the playoffs. Martin Truex Jr. did so by winning two races, including the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway, and now he will be in prime position for a repeat performance at the start of Sunday’s race.
Martin Truex Jr. will start the race in the pole position
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) April 14, 2021
With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to pose health issues, NASCAR is moving through the 2021 season with limited qualifying sessions. The drivers will head into the majority of races without any practice laps. This change means that the biggest names in racing will not have the opportunity to set the starting order with blazing lap times.
In order to determine the starting order in 2020 and into 2021, NASCAR implemented a unique formula based on a variety of factors. The first 25% of the formula is the driver’s finishing position from the previous race. Another 25% is the car owner’s finishing position from the previous race. 35% is the team owner’s points ranking, and the final 15% is the fastest lap from the previous race. Truex’s win in the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 and his previous performances set him up to win the Busch Pole for Sunday’s race.
Denny Hamlin, the current points leader, will join Truex on the front row as they lead the field to the green flag. Chase Elliott and William Byron will make the up the second row while Joey Logano and Kyle Larson line up on the third row. Of these drivers, only Elliott and Hamlin have failed to reach Victory Lane during the 2021 season but are still in the mix for playoff spots.
The Truck Series is back in action after a long break
The last time that Rhodes and his fellow drivers got behind the wheels of their trucks was the Pinty’s Truck Race on Dirt. This unique event at Bristol Motor Speedway tested the drivers in a new way, but Truex took the checkered flag in his first Truck race since 2006. However, his victory played less of a role in the Truck Series playoff standings.
With five races complete, Nemechek currently sits atop the leaderboard with one win and 211 points. Rhodes sits in second place with 205 points after securing two wins. Both men are on their way to the postseason after becoming the only full-time Truck Series drivers to win races. Kyle Busch and Truex won the other two races but did not score points due to being full-time Cup Series drivers.
This race at Richmond will be critical for the playoff hopefuls given the schedule that awaits them. The drivers will be idle until May 1 after finishing the ToyotaCare 250. Once they return to action, they will begin a nine-race stretch leading up to the playoffs that includes new tracks in Circuit of the Americas and Nashville Superspeedway.
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