2011 Crown Royal 400 Picks
(The Spread) - We’ll be treated to night racing once again this Saturday when NASCAR rolls into Richmond International Raceway for the 2011 Crown Royal 400.
Among the most popular venues with both drivers and fans, Richmond International Raceway is a short, flat track with tight quarters that can lead to aggressive driving. What makes this track so unique is that it's only 3/4 of a mile long, with 14 degrees of banking in the turns, and only 8 degrees on the front stretch. Like most flat tracks, brakes are among the most important pieces of equipment.
Even though Richmond is considered a short track, we'll still see high speeds which makes this race so hard to figure out for both the drivers and crew chiefs. The two teams that seem to understand what it takes to win here are Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch. Each of these drivers have won twice in the last two years, while Jimmie Johnson tasted victory in 2008.
Kyle Busch 6/1
With an average result of 5.2 in 12 career starts, Richmond is Busch's best track in terms of average finish and top-fives (10). Busch has been at his best in the spring, winning each of the last two spring races after finishing as the runner-up in the two previous events. In 12 races here, Busch has only finished outside of the top five twice, which is an amazing feat considering how difficult the track is. While we usually stay away from low priced favorites, Kyle Busch is just too good here to pass up.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 18/1
Richmond was one of Dale Earnhardt Jr's better tracks when he moved up to NASCAR. He won three times in his first 14 starts, but since then it has been a track he would rather not see. With seven straight finishes of 12th or better this season (including two top-fives in the last three starts), we think he could finally get his first win in a long time and get that monkey off his back.
Juan Pablo Montoya 35/1
Over the last two years, Montoya has really seemed to figure out this difficult track, with three top 10 finishes in four starts. After struggling at Phoenix, which is similar to Richmond, Montoya rebounded with a fourth-place result at Martinsville another flat track. If Montoya can just avoid trouble that has seemed to find him a lot lately, he could surprise the field at a big price.