Preview: Kevin Harvick on Pole for NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Race at Richmond Raceway

Can the Stewart Haas Racing driver put a stop to Brad Keselowski's hot streak at the Virginia short track?

Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs are in full swing as drivers prepare to turn 400 laps at Richmond Raceway. After a disastrous opening round for many of the 16 drivers competing for the championship, those on the verge of not advancing to the next round are looking to secure a win at the first short track race on the playoff schedule. Brad Keselowski has guaranteed his place in the round of eight by winning at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last week while several playoff drivers failed to finish the race; only seven of the 16 drivers secured a top-10 finish. With Cup Series star Kevin Harvick on pole for Saturday night's race, who will be the next driver to win before the series heads to what many believe will be an unpredictable race on the Roval course at Charlotte Motor Speedway?

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Schedule:

Federated Auto Parts 400: (Follow live)
The Place: Richmond Raceway
The Date: Sunday, September 22
The Time: Approximately 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN, 6:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 300 miles (400 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 100), Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 200), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 400)

Press Pass: (Watch live)
3 p.m. ET: Roush Fenway Racing
10:45 p.m. ET: Post-Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race broadcast

Starting Lineup


Rank, Driver, Car, Speed

1. Kevin Harvick, Ford, 121.880
2. Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 121.847
3. Martin Truex, Jr., Toyota, 121.529
4. Ryan Blaney, Ford, 121.397
5. Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 121.381
6. Kurt Busch, Ford, 121.256
7. Aric Almirola, Ford, 120.968
8. Brad Keselowski, Ford, 120.849
9. Erik Jones, Toyota, 120.849
10. Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 120.822
11. Cole Custer, Ford, 120.751
12. Kyle Busch, Toyota, 120.590
13. Joey Logano, Ford, 121.447
14. Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 121.425
15. Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 121.397
16. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Ford, 121.152
17. Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 121.093
18. Matt Kenseth, Ford, 120.979
19. Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 120.903
20. William Byron, Chevrolet, 120.784
21. Paul Menard, Ford, 120.676
22. Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 120.332
23. Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 120.326
24. Michael McDowell, Ford, 119.058
25. Clint Bowyer, Ford, 121.049
26. Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 120.946
27. David Ragan, Ford, 120.935
28. Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 120.816
29. Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 120.778
30. A.J. Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 120.681
31. Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 120.498\
32. Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 120.450
33. Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 120.278
34. Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 119.585
35. Jeffrey Earnhardt, Toyota, 119.464
36. Gray Gaulding, Ford, 117.739
37. Alon Day, Toyota, 117.627
38. Joey Gase, Chevrolet, 117.596
39. Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 117.055
40. Timmy Hill, Toyota, 116.989

Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John's New 9-Grain Wheat Sub Ford, sits in the garage during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway on September 21, 2018. 

Past 10 Winners at Richmond Raceway

(Year, Driver, Manufacturer)

2008, Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet
2009, Denny Hamlin, Toyota
2010, Denny Hamlin, Toyota
2011, Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet
2012, Clint Bowyer, Toyota
2013, Carl Edwards, Ford
2014, Brad Keselowski, Ford
2015, Matt Kenseth, Toyota
2016, Denny Hamlin, Toyota
2017, Kyle Larson, Chevrolet

The first-ever Cup race at Richmond Raceway was won by Lee Petty in 1953. The series races twice a year at the D-shaped track. Kyle Busch won the spring race at Richmond earlier this year.

Playoff Drivers at Richmond*:


(Driver, Races, Wins, Top-Fives, Top-10s, Poles)

Martin Truex, Jr., 25, 0, 2, 8, 1
Kyle Busch, 26, 5, 16, 19, 1
Brad Keselowski, 18, 1, 4, 8, 1
Kevin Harvick, 35, 3, 13, 22, 1
Joey Logano, 19, 2, 8, 11, 2
Kurt Busch, 35, 2, 7, 15, 0
Ryan Blaney, 5, 0, 0, 0, 0
Kyle Larson, 9, 1, 2, 3, 0
Aric Almirola, 13, 0, 1, 4, 0
Austin Dillon, 9, 0, 0, 0, 0
Clint Bowyer, 25, 2, 4, 13, 0
Alex Bowman, 5, 0, 0, 0, 0
Jimmie Johnson, 33, 3, 7, 14, 2
Chase Elliott, 6, 0, 1, 2, 0
Erik Jones, 3, 0, 0, 1, 0
Denny Hamlin, 24, 3, 11, 15, 3

* Data according to Racing-Reference.com

Questions at Richmond

"Win and you’re in" sounds easy enough, but on a short track, nothing is ever that simple. Keselowski has three consecutive race wins dating back to the regular season, so the pressure is off for him. Martin Truex Jr. currently leads all playoff drivers in points, but he has never won a Cup race on a short track. Will his luck change with the Federated Auto Parts 400? Kyle Busch, who ranks third in points, has dominated at Richmond and has the most wins out of all active drivers with five at the 0.75-mile track. Will his previous experience at the historic track give him any advantages?

After finishing 39th in the previous race at Las Vegas, Kevin Harvick managed to secure the Busch Pole Award at Richmond. Can fans expect Harvick to pick up where he left off in the regular season and add another win to his season total? Will a non-playoff driver sneak in and take the checkered flag? The playoff picture is still developing, but that is all about to change at least for the round of 16 as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series crowns another race winner at Richmond this weekend.