Good morning and welcome to this week’s setup. I waited on it a bit because I wanted to see how Friday night’s Xfinity race would go. I feel it is a decent indicator of how the race tonight could go.
Qualifying pole and finishing 7th provided Austin Dillon with his 6th top 10 in the series at Richmond. If you remove 2 starts, September of 2008 (26) and April of 2013 (35), he would have an 8th place average finish. Why is this significant? It shows that his problem is not with the track. He knows how to get it done here despite what the numbers say. The 13th place average finish in Xfinity is very misleading here.
Austin qualified his number 3 Sprint Cup team 8th yesterday moves his average start from 20th to 18th, thank god we aren’t starting all the way back there today! In five starts at Richmond in Cup, Austin has three finishes of 27th and two finishes of 20th. It Averages to 24.20, but you either finish 24th or 25th. So I am using 25th.
Take the average of 13 + 25 = 38/2 = 19, the minus the average of 4 places above his Cup average (19-4=15) and my prediction for the week is… 15th. That’s 6 positions below where he needs to finish to guarantee himself a place in the Chase. That’s not bad.
Now, let’s throw out those 2 ugly finishes in Xfinity. Using 8 instead of 13. 8+25=33/2=17-5=12. I like this projection better, honestly. Not just because it’s better but I think it could be more realistic. However, I have to stay with 15th because that’s the way I’ve done it all year.
Now for a reality check, Austin’s number one goal is to make the Chase, anything shy of a win means he has to make sure he beats Jaime McMurray. Jaime has an average of 21st but over the last five starts here he has an average of 8th. Chip Ganassi’s team is good here.
Last night’s green flag trend could continue through tonight. That would limit the chances for the 3 guys to get the car “right” for Austin. With McMurray starting 4th and Austin starting 8th, that means McMurray has already been spotted half the points he needs to pass Austin Dillon for the final spot in the Chase if someone outside the top 16 wins. Austin needs to finish within 8 spots of McMurray to hold onto his position in the points.
Obviously, a win just makes it all good and RCR has caught up a lot since last year and even since this spring when we visited Richmond. Austin has become a better short track racer too! What we have here is a ton of ups and downs. Tonight will have a very high “pucker” factor. What’s it going to take? Austin has to stay out of trouble. Greg and Slugger have to predict the right changes for tonight. Our guys over the wall need to have their next stop be their best stop all night. Everyone on this team is capable of doing it, everyone. Every guy is a winner. Everyone has beat someone else to be where they are. So give these guys a shout out, pump them up! We need their best!
Good luck tonight, control what you can control, see you in the box.