Nascar Exclusive Race Report

Stewart-Haas Race Report:
Richmond International Raceway | 4/30/2017

Greg Zipadelli|Vice President of Competition, Stewart-Haas Racing

Friday: Practice and Qualifying

“Richmond weekend was a little bit different from what we were used to. For years it was a Saturday night race and just a two-day show, but with this race moved to Sunday afternoon, it was a little bit more of a traditional race weekend where we practice and qualify on Friday, practice Saturday then race on Sunday. So, it was pretty standard procedure for us. We knew we would get to practice in the same conditions as expected for the race, which is always a good thing.

“As far as qualifying went, we had four cars in the top-21 and three cars in the top-10. I think we had decent speed. Kevin (Harvick) ended up sixth, Clint (Bowyer) eighth, Kurt (Busch) ninth and Danica (Patrick) 21st. There was no drama. It was a good qualifying session for us.”

Saturday: Practice

“Practice on Saturday saw a lot of cars running the same speed. We believed the race would come down to which team and driver executed the best. We knew we hadn’t had a race there in 90-degree weather, which we were expecting Sunday. When we race at night about a third of your handling issues go away as the track temperature drops. It’s just the opposite in the daytime as the track temperature increases. Everyone in the garage was trying to factor in the heat in their race preparations.”

Sunday: Race

“Holy cow, what a show. That was crazy. It was Richmond like I had never seen. All those cautions at the end were something and a lot of drivers were penalized. That got us with both Danica and Clint. Clint had a top-six, for sure, and got a penalty. We thought we were going to have three in the top-10 and only ended up with two (Harvick, fifth; Busch, eighth).

“On Saturday, we noticed the race track started widening out. By that I mean the groove where the cars could run on the track was wider, so it looked like there would be several possible lines around the track. We thought some of the drivers would try to run the high lane as well. Having all those options usually makes for a really good race.

“It sounded like a lot of drivers were complaining about the heat. I think it was 140 degrees inside the car. I’m sure it played a role in their mental state. Richmond is a tough track and that kind of day takes a toll.”