Fuel and Tires

All about auto racing with Gazette staffer Dave von Falkenstein.

Fuel & Tires: NASCAR hits Richmond, IndyCar heads to Alabama

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Dave von Falkenstein
April 23, 2015

Another weekend, another bunch of races to preview as NASCAR goes to Virginia and IndyCar heads south to Alabama.


The Sprint Cup and Xfinity Series will hit Richmond International Speedway in Richmond, Virginia this weekend for two night races. The .75-mile, D-shaped track first hosted NASCAR in 1953 and has hosted the series both in the spring and fall every year since 1959. Hopefully, any rain in the forecast will clear out before Sunday so we don't have a repeat of last weekend's rain-delayed debacle.

Richard Petty holds the record for most wins at the track, with 13. Of active drivers, Kyle Busch has won the spring race four times while Dale Earnhardt Jr. has won it three times.

Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano, currently first and second in the points standings, have won the last two spring races at Richmond with Logano winning last year and Harvick in 2013.

Denny Hamlin, who is from nearby Chesterfield, has won the fall race twice but has never won the spring race.

—If Kyle Larson can pull off a win, he would join Tony Stewart and Kasey Kahne as drivers who got their maiden win at this track.

—Sprint Cup regulars Aric Almirola, Austin Dillon, Harvick, Logano and Hamlin are all on the entry list for the Xfinity Series race. Harvick has won seven Xfinity Series races at Richmond, three in the spring.

—Qualifying Sprint Cup's Toyota Owners 400 starts at 4:30 p.m. Friday on Fox Sports 1. Race coverage starts at 5 p.m. Saturday on Fox.

—Qualifying for the Xfinity Series ToyotaCare 250 starts at 2:30 p.m. with race coverage starting at 6 p.m. Friday, both on Fox Sports 1


The Verizon IndyCar Series heads to Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama for Sunday's Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. IndyCar has raced at the 2.3-mile road course since 2010.

—Both Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay have won this race twice, with Hunter-Reay winning the last two races. Power is looking to rebound from a weekend from hell in Long Beach in which the defending series champion qualified 18th and finished 20th. It was Power's worst finish since he finished 20th at Detroit in 2013.

Scott Dixon, last week's winner at Long Beach, has never won in Alabama. He has, however, finished second four times and took third place last year.

Marco Andretti has three top-five finishes in five starts at Barber. Juan Pablo Montoya, a threat to win anywhere the series races, finished 21st there last year in his first race at the track.

Helio Castroneves, currently two points behind Montoya in the driver standings, won the inaugural race at Alabama in 2010.

—Dale Coyne Racing's rotating carousel of drivers continues this weekend when Rodolfo Gonzalez makes his IndyCar Series debut with the team in the No. 18 Honda. The slowest driver in the field, Francesco Dracone, will make his fourth consecutive start for Coyne.

—Qualifying for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama will air at 4 p.m. Saturday on NBC Sports Network. Race coverage starts at 2 p.m. Sunday, also on NBC Sports Network.


—The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series heads to Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown, Texas for the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA SpringNationals. Erica Enders-Stevens won this event last year, en route to the Pro Stock title. Antron Brown took the Top Fuel win and Robert Hight topped the Funny Car field. John Force will look to win his 143rd Funny Car race after winning the event earlier this month in Las Vegas.

—President Barack Obama honored Harvick and Harvick's team owner Stewart on Tuesday at the White House for winning the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship.

Townsend Bell, IndyCar Series analyst on NBC Sports Network, will attempt to qualify for next month's Indianapolis 500 with Dreyer & Reinbold-Kingdom Racing in the No. 24 Chevrolet. Bell has eight starts in the race, with a best finish of fourth coming in 2009.

—Fox NASCAR announcer Steve Byrnes passed away Tuesday after a battle with cancer. Byrnes served as a pit reporter for Fox Sports since 2001 and was a play-by-play announcer for NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series. Last Sunday's race had been re-named the Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes and Stand Up to Cancer in his honor.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this story.

Dave von Falkenstein is a digital content coordinator for The Gazette and an auto racing fan. Follow him on Twitter at @achtungvon or email him at [email protected].

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