The 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season continues with a trip to Richmond Raceway. The initial odds are out, and they highlight two different playoff contenders.
According to DraftKings, William Byron has the best odds to win at 9-2. This is understandable considering that he has two wins in the first six races of the 2023 Cup Series season. Byron was also the driver in control of the 2022 Richmond spring race with under 10 laps remaining, but he ultimately lost after Denny Hamlin’s tire strategy led to a race-winning pass with five to go.
Kevin Harvick has the second-best odds entering the Richmond weekend. He sits at 11-2 as he pursues another win at the Virginia short track. Harvick captured the 2022 summer race at Richmond, which was his second consecutive trip to Victory Lane after a win at Michigan International Speedway.
Harvick is the only Ford Performance driver inside of the top five. Kyle Larson is just behind him at 13-2, followed by Christopher Bell at 15-2, Denny Hamlin at 9-1, Martin Trux Jr. at 11-1, and Kyle Busch at 12-1. Ryan Blaney is the next Ford Performance driver at 16-1.
Harvick Has Extensive Success at Richmond Raceway
As a former Cup Series champion with 60 career wins, Harvick has achieved success at a wide variety of tracks. However, Richmond is high on the list due to his overall consistency in Virginia.
The Closer has made 43 starts at Richmond Raceway since entering the Cup Series in 2001. He has posted top-10 finishes in 29 of these starts, which is the most among active drivers. Busch is second with 27 top-10 finishes.
Along with putting himself in a position to potentially fight for the win, Harvick has also celebrated in Victory Lane multiple times. He has won four Cup Series races at Richmond, dating back to the first in 2006.
Three of Busch’s career Cup wins at Richmond have been in an RCR car. He returned to Victory Lane in 2011 and 2013 before moving over to Stewart-Haas Racing. His most recent win was in the No. 4 Ford during the 2022 season.
Byron Has Yet To Win a Cup Series Race at Richmond
The driver of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro was in a position to win at Richmond Raceway in 2022. He was not able to achieve this goal due to Hamlin’s tire strategy, but he still turned in a career-best third-place finish at the track
Byron has made nine Cup Series starts at Richmond Raceway since taking over the No. 24. His first start resulted in a 12th-place finish, and he has since gone on to finish every race that he has started.
Byron has two top-10 finishes and one top-five in the past four trips to Richmond Raceway. According to the initial odds from DraftsKings, he will potentially add another to his resume during the spring 2023 race.
Of course, achieving this is much easier said than done. Qualifying well will be critical at the short track. The drivers believe that the new aero package for short tracks will help them be able to make passes, but there is no guarantee until the green flag waves on Sunday, April 2, at 3:30 p.m. ET (FS1).
“I think it will be better at Richmond than Phoenix because Phoenix is pretty fast and Richmond you’re going a lot slower, tires wear out a lot more, so hopefully that helps it out,” Ryan Blaney explained during a pre-Richmond press conference.
“Richmond struggled a little bit last year, I thought, so I’m optimistic on going forward to Richmond and then Martinsville, I think, it’s gonna be even better yet. Drivers are gonna have their hands full by themselves trying to keep tires on it with the lack of rear grip, and I’m hopeful that the traffic side is better.”