Toyota Owners 400 (Cup Series) Predictions & Odds
- Newly-minted short track ace Martin Truex Jr. heads to Richmond as favorite.
- Why is everyone ignoring Austin Dillon this weekend? That’s a mistake.
- Hendrick driver William Byron is an excellent sleeper pick at long odds.
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The coronavirus pandemic cost Richmond Raceway its spring event last year, but the 400-lap race at the .75-mile track is back on the schedule this season with a mid-afternoon start on Sunday. This will be the 129th NASCAR Cup Series race at the historic short track, which debuted in 1953 as a half-mile dirt venue and went through several variations before arriving at the current paved configuration.
At Richmond, 400 laps translate to 300 miles, and stage breaks are planed after 80 and 225 laps. Brad Keselowski is the most recent winner at the track, having taken the checkered flag in last September’s Playoff race. There are nine former Richmond winners in Sunday’s race, led by Kyle Busch with six victories.
How to Watch Toyota Owners 400
|Toyota Owners 400 Information|
|What||Toyota Owners 400 NASCAR Cup Series Race|
|When||Sunday, April 18, 3 p.m. ET p.m. ET|
|How to Watch||FOX|
Based on Recent Short-Track Prowess, Martin Truex Jr. Tabbed as Favorite
Who knew Martin Truex Jr. was a master of NASCAR’s short tracks? Before 2019, no one. After more than a decade of frustration at venues shorter than a mile, Truex notched his first short-track victory in the spring race at Richmond that year.
He followed that with another Richmond win in the fall and added a triumph at Martinsville later in the season. Truex then won the first Martinsville last year and backed that up with another win at the track on April 11, giving him three victories in the last four races at NASCAR’s shortest track and making him the first repeat winner of 2021.
In his last four starts at Richmond, Truex has finished third, first, first and second. And, yes, he’s the favorite to win again on Sunday—but at a respectable +400. At that price, he’s worth a bet, if only to protect some of the long shots you’re picking.
Don’t Write Off Austin Dillon at One of His Best NASCAR Tracks
The 2021 season has been an uneven one for Austin Dillon. The driver of the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet had strong runs at Daytona (third) and Atlanta (sixth) but mediocre performances elsewhere, despite showing speed in his Camaro.
Nevertheless, Dillon is racing at Richmond on Sunday, and his recent results there are eye-opening. In his last four races at the .75-mile track, Dillon has finished sixth twice and fourth in his most recent outing last fall. That bodes well for Sunday’s race, the ninth on the NASCAR Cup Series calendar this year.
“Richmond Raceway is one of the tracks the No. 3 teams has circled as a definite place where we can gain maximum points and compete for a win,” Dillon says. “It’s funny, because there was a time in my career when I did not run well at Richmond at all. It was a thorn in my side. but over the years that has changed.
Richmond has become a much better place than it used to be for me. We ran really well there last year, and I’m excited to get back there and see what we can do this time around.
You’ll have to go far down the board to find Dillon at +4000, but he’s the best dark horse available. And if you’re not comfortable betting Dillon to win, you can get him to finish in the top 10 at a respectable +140.
Hendrick Driver William Byron Is an Excellent Pick at Long Odds
After a miserable start to the 2021 season that featured a 26th-place finish on the Daytona oval and a 33rd on the Daytona Road Course, William Byron has posted six straight top-10 results. That streak, which has elevated Byron from 29th to sixth in the NASCAR Cup Series standings, includes a victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Still, Byron is a relative long shot for Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400 at a +2500 price. Clearly, that’s based on his career record at Richmond, which features an average finish of 18.0 in five starts. But Byron’s record this year is more relevant than his results at the .75-mile track. The Hendrick Motorsports Chevys are stronger this year, and Byron has taken full advantage.
Normally, we run Richmond at night, so it’s going to be a different challenge this year racing during the day,” Byron says. “It’s already so low on grip that you’re going to be moving around no matter what. I feel like the track is going to change a lot as the race goes on… It’s going to be a learning curve as the run goes on to keep up with what your car needs.
That’s OK. Byron is a quick study. And if you think his top-10 streak will continue, you can get that proposition for better than even money (+110).
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Award-winning motorsports writer Reid Spencer has served as lead writer for the NASCAR Wire Service for 16 years, having also spent a four-year stint as NASCAR columnist and beat writer for Sporting News. He is currently serving as president of the National Motorsports Press Association. Email: [email protected]