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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:57 AM

Federated Auto Parts 400

Bet and Collete Podcast

Kyle Busch has gone 13 races since he last won a NASCAR Cup race at Pocono Raceway on June 2. He had a season-high four wins in the first 14 races and looked to be running away with everything. But since then, Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. has passed him for the series lead with five wins and his other teammate Denny Hamlin has tied him with four wins.
The 'due factor theory' is one of the lamest gambling excuses ever, but when Kyle Busch takes the green flag Saturday night at Richmond Raceway’s 0.75-mile flat layout, being due for a win actually has some merit. That, and also the fact that he’s the best active driver at Richmond with six wins, six runner-ups and a 6.9 average finish between 26 Cup starts. He’s also got six wins there in the Xfinity Series. 
The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook has posted him as the 3/1 betting favorite to win Saturday Night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 with three drivers behind him listed at 6/1 odds, and two of them are his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates. Between the four JGR drivers, they’ve won 14 of the 27 Cup races this season and five different JGR driver have combined to win six of the past eight Richmond races.
Kyle Busch swept both Richmond races last season and in the spring race held on April 13, it was Truex winning there for his first career Cup win on a short track. It started a string of three straight wins for Truex when using the race package with engines producing 750 horsepower. He’d win at Dover and also at Sonoma using it. JGR drivers have won six of the nine races with it. Busch won at Phoenix and also the first Bristol race using it.   
The most consistent driver using this week’s race package has been Denny Hamlin with eight top-fives in the nine races using it. In the last race with it, he won at Bristol. Beyond looking to improve his playoff position after a disappointing 15th at Las Vegas week, he’s also got some extra incentive going for him this week.
“I always love competing at my hometown track,” said Hamlin who grew up 25 minutes away from Richmond Raceway in Chesterfield. “I really appreciate the hometown support, and our team is working hard preparing to put us in the best position to get a W.”
All he’s done at his home track is grab three wins in 26 Cup starts, post 12 top-fives and his 1,659 laps led lead all active drivers. He also has three wins there in the Xfinity Series.
The other driver with Truex and Hamlin at 6/1 odds to win is three-time Richmond winner Kevin Harvick, who also has seven wins there in the Xfinity Series. His 15 top-fives in 37 Richmond Cup starts is second-most among active drivers behind Busch. Only Busch (6.9) and Hamlin (9.3) have a better average finish at Richmond than Harvick (9.8).
I like to group Richmond, Phoenix, and New Hampshire together because of a similar distance and being flat. If a driver does well on one of them they’ll do well on the others because of similar set-up requirements. Harvick happens to be the all-time winner at Phoenix and he won the July 23 race at New Hampshire in thrilling late-race battle with Hamlin for the win. By the way, Hamlin led 113 laps that day and Kyle Busch led a race-high 118 laps. 
When putting the results of races at Phoenix, the first Richmond race, and New Hampshire side-by-side it’s Hamlin with top-fives in all three, Truex, Busch, Harvick, and Ryan Blaney with top-fives in two of them.
If looking for the best chance at hitting a lottery this week you may want to take a look at Matt DiBenedetto, who the SuperBbook quickly dropped from 300-to-1 down to 100-to-1 betting odds. 
“Looking ahead to this weekend at Richmond, it’s a track that is more of a strong suit for us as a team since it is a short track,” DiBenedetto said. “I enjoy the fact that this weekend at Richmond drivers will need to lay off the gas, use the brake pedal, and that we slide around a bit more than other tracks. 
“Richmond is a better type of track for us than the 1.5-mile ones since we’ve typically been faster at the short tracks so far this year.”
The No. 95 team has been on elite level status in the Cup using the race package with 750 HP on the shorter tracks. DiBenedetto has top-fives in three of the last four using it and the last time they raced with at Bristol he led the most laps (93) and was runner-up after being passed by Hamlin with 11 laps to. Before that he was fifth at New Hampshire and fourth at Sonoma. It should come as no surprise that his Toyota uses Joe Gibbs Racing equipment when seeing his results with this race package.
Further up the odds chart is Ryan Blaney at 40/1 odds and I love the value despite him not winning a race all season. The reason is because of the race package which he’s posted six top-fives with it in nine races. His Penske teammates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano are much better with the 550 HP package, but it’s Blaney leading the way with 750 HP package, or at least being more consistent with it. Keselowski has a dominant Martinsville win with it back in March. The four other wins by Logano and Keselowski have come with the 550 HP package. 
A driver desperate to not get eliminated is Clint Bowyer, who started off his playoffs poorly with 25th-place at Las Vegas last week. His odds are only 20/1 this week because of him willing to bump anyone out of the way for a win that carries an automatic berth to the next round. This is also his best track with two wins.  
“It’s just a perfect racetrack,” Bowyer said. “It’s always been that way. Ever since I started in the Xfinity Series with Richard (Childress), it’s always fit my driving style. It’s that short track and I’ve always said that I wish we had four or five of these all across the country. They certainly hit the mark when they were making Richmond. I have a lot of fun there – prerace and everything else. The fan base there has always been good. It’s a good vibe and a good feel for a racetrack being that it kind of reminds you of pulling into the old fairgrounds at a dirt track. There are houses across the street and this is what short-track racing is all about.”

Top-5 Finish Prediction:

1) #18 Kyle Busch (3/1)
2) #11 Denny Hamlin (6/1)
3) #4 Kevin Harvick (6/1)
4) #19 Martin Truex (6/1)
5) #12 Ryan Blaney (40/1)

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