2018 Federated Auto Parts 400 Odds & Expert Pick

2018 Federated Auto Parts 400 Odds & Expert Pick

Written by on September 20, 2018

NASCAR’s 10-race playoffs began last week in Las Vegas with Brad Keselowski winning the South Point 400. Now, the circuit heads to Richmond Raceway for Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400. The race gets underway at 7:30 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network. Bit surprising that Keselowski isn’t the NASCAR odds favorite as he’s +600. Las week at Vegas, Keselowski won his third straight NASCAR race, surviving a bevy of late restarts and cruising into the next round of the playoffs with his Vegas victory. Keselowski persevered through a wreck-filled afternoon and roared away from the field in overtime. He secured team owner Roger Penske’s landmark 500th victory across all competitions.

2018 Federated Auto Parts 400 Odds & Expert Pick

Michael McDowell and Kurt Busch wrecked with just two laps to go, forcing a red-flag stop and overtime. After the drivers re-fired their engines for the two-lap shootout, nobody could keep up with Keselowski. Kyle Larson was second, and defending Cup series champion Martin Truex Jr. was third. Several to drivers struggled in Vegas. Championship co-favorite Kevin Harvick was among them, but his reserve stash of playoff points should help him withstand that. Others were less fortunate, with Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott, Erik Jones, and Denny Hamlin relegated to the bottom four. Keselowski doesn’t have the best Richmond numbers overall (one win; eight active drivers have at least two), but given the streak he’s on and his average finish of 7.33 over the past nine races at the Virginia track, he could be a great value.

The Favorites

The favorite this week is Kyle Busch at +220. He is looking for the answer to whatever has been ailing the No. 18 team the past five weeks. He likes Richmond, though, as Busch won there earlier this season and has two more career wins (five) than any other active driver. Harvick is +400. He finished fifth at Richmond earlier this year. Harvick made a second, scheduled, green flag pit stop on lap 332 for four tires and fuel. With 50 laps to go, he was third. Four caution periods in those final 50 laps conspired against Harvick. Despite having fresh tires, traction and track position were tough to find. The final restart sent the race into overtime via a green-white-checkered finish. After restarting in fourth place, Harvick brought his Mobil 1 Ford home in fifth. It was Harvick’s sixth top-five finish of 2018 and his 13th top-five in 35 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Richmond. Harvick’s eight laps led increased his laps-led total at Richmond to 1,069. “Richmond is a racetrack where you have to have a plan,” Harvick said. “When I say you have to have a plan, you have to know that it’s going to be 50 degrees or high 40s as we go into the night and into the race. As you go from daytime practice where it always seems like the car is pushing, then you’ll go into the night and the car will start turning better. The next thing you know you’re starting to get loose off the corner.” Truex is +500. The 2017 points champ finished third last week, led the most laps (96 of 272) and assumed the lead in the Monster Energy Series standings. Truex has mastered Richmond without the feat of actually winning a race there. The spring’s pole winner led a race-high 121 laps, and last year led a race-high 198 before wrecking out off the final restart. Denny Hamlin is +800. He has finished no worse than sixth in his last six races he has run at Richmond and that includes one of his three careers wins here.

The Defending Champion

Defending race champion Kyle Larson is +900. A caution on Lap 397 of a scheduled 400 in the race turned what looked like a coronation for Truex Jr. into an unexpected overtime victory for Kyle Larson. Kyle Larson is one of the favorites to win the 2018 Federated Auto Parts 400. Truex had a comfortable lead over Larson when Derrike Cope brushed the outside wall with three laps left in regulation. Larson won the race off pit road after the lead-lap cars pitted for tires and the driver of the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet pulled away from a restart on Lap 403.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Larson leads all active drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in an average starting position at Richmond Raceway with an 8.444; followed by Hamlin (9.750). Hamlin (2006, 2008 and 2016) and Matt Kenseth (2013 and 2017 sweep) lead all active drivers in Busch poles at Richmond with three each; followed by Joey Logano and Johnson with two each. Johnson is the only active driver with consecutive wins at Richmond (2007 sweep).

Track Facts

  • Number of previous races: 124
  • First Cup race: April 19, 1953, won by Lee Petty
  • Last Cup race: April 21, 2018, won by Kyle Busch
  • Won from pole: 23, last time by Denny Hamlin in 2016
  • Won from top-5 starting position: 71 times in 123 races (58%). The starting position of one race winner is unknown
  • Most laps led: 488, by Richard Petty in 1970
  • Won from top-10 starting position: 96 times (78%)
  • Won from 21st or worse starting position: 11 times (9%)
  • Worst starting spot for race winner: 32nd, by Kyle Busch in 2018
  • Fewest laps led by a race winner: 1, by Cotton Owens in 1959, Tom Pistone in 1959, and Lee Petty in 1953
  • Fastest race: 109.047 mph by Dale Jarrett in 1997
  • Fastest qualifying speed: 130.599 mph by Jeff Gordon in 2013
  • Most lead changes: 25 in 1991 and 1996
  • Closest finish: Jeff Burton’s .051 second margin over Jeff Gordon in 1998
  • Most caution flags: 16 in 2016

Expert Prediction for the 2018 Federated Auto Parts 400

Go with Harvick.