If only fans could’ve predicted how the NASCAR season would unfold in the spring.
The NASCAR Cup Series returns to Richmond Raceway for a second time this regular season at 3 p.m. on Sunday — and a lot has changed since that first race in Richmond, when Denny Hamlin took the checkered flag in early April.
Since then, penalties have been levied. Wins have been revoked. A Hall of Fame driver channeled some past magic. And eight more drivers have claimed a race win, ballooning the number to 15 and setting up a final trio of regular-season races for the ages.
The parity in this year’s Cup Series is bordering on crazy: Somehow, Ryan Blaney, who boasts the second-most amount of points in the Cup field, is in danger of losing a spot in the 16-driver playoff. Somehow, Martin Truex Jr., with the fourth-most amount of points, is currently (and ever-so-slightly) on the outside looking in.
And somehow there are still drivers who can and will win a race lingering in the field, waiting for their moments to further upend a topsy-turvy season and steal the show. Erik Jones is 14th in points but has notched eight top-10s and two top-fives. Brad Keselowski hasn’t had the best year but is only two years removed from a playoff win at Richmond. And Bubba Wallace is 19th in points but has run four-straight top-10 finishes and might’ve even had the fastest car in the field in his second-place finish at Michigan last weekend.
You can watch the Federated Auto Parts 400 on USA Network and listen to it on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio. The race will be 400 laps around the speedway’s 0.75-mile track. Lap stages end on Lap 70, Lap 230 and Lap 400.
Kyle Larson will start on the pole on Sunday, a critical capture considering short-track racing often prompts positional battles. The No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet driver will be joined near the front by Ross Chastain and Denny Hamlin.
Ty Gibbs will run in the 14th position in the 45 car, a product of Kurt Busch being ruled out for a fourth-straight race due to a concussion. Wallace, who re-signed with 23XI Racing earlier this week, will start 11th.
Truex has won three of the last six races at Richmond. Hamlin won the Cup race in Richmond earlier this year.
How to watch NASCAR race at Richmond
Race: Federated Auto Parts 400
Distance: 300 miles, 400 laps
Where: Richmond Raceway
When: 3 p.m.
TV: USA Network
Radio: Sirius XM NASCAR Radio
Starting lineup: Federated Auto Parts 400
Martin Truex Jr.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.