Heading into Sunday’s action-packed weekend at Richmond Raceway, NASCAR fans are trying to determine which driver will take the checkered flag. There are several talented options, but one member of Joe Gibbs Racing is the heavy favorite. Analysts expect Martin Truex Jr. to win his third race of the season, giving him 4-1 odds.
The driver of the No. 19 JGR Toyota Camry, Truex is the only driver to officially secure his spot in the playoffs after winning races at Phoenix and Martinsville. Now he will strive to continue his strong streak at the fan-favorite short track. In the past four Cup races at Richmond, Truex has finished second, first, first, and third.
Truex is not the only JGR driver facing favorable odds ahead of Sunday’s race. Teammate Denny Hamlin, the current points leader, sits just behind the No. 19 with 6-1 odds. Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski rounds out the top three with 8-1 odds.
Truex will start the race in the top spot
Heading into the weekend, NASCAR determined the starting order with a unique formula devised during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Racing’s sanctioning body used the driver’s finishing position from the previous race for the first 25%. The car owner’s finishing position from the previous race made up the next 25%. The team owner’s points ranking made up 35% of the formula, and the fastest lap from the previous race made up the final 15%.
Based on this formula and his victory in the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500, Truex won the Busch Pole for Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400. He will lead the field of drivers to the green flag while Hamlin will join him on the front row. Keselowski will start the race on the 10th row next to Ryan Newman.
According to NASCAR, drivers starting near the front of the pack at Richmond have found considerable success. In the last 12 races, the winner has started inside the top 10 all but two times. This recent history includes seven victories by a member of JGR.
Bubba Wallace will strive to find success in his JGR-provided Toyota
Bubba Wallace, the driver of the No. 23 Toyota Camry for the Michael Jordan and Hamlin-owned 23XI Racing, entered the 2021 season with raised expectations. He had the support of a six-time NBA champion, as well as a high-powered ride in partnership with JGR.
While Jordan told Fox Sports’ Michael Strahan prior to the Daytona 500 that Wallace “could probably win” a couple of races, the 27-year-old has not reached Victory Lane just yet. The 23XI team has struggled with mechanical issues, resulting in an average finish of 21st. Wallace has yet to crack the top-10, but he remains optimistic heading into the ninth race of the season.
“It’s only a matter of time,” Wallace told reporters on Friday morning, per NASCAR. “All cylinders are not firing at the same time, but we’re hitting all of them. They’re all kind of sporadic, so it’s like once we get that out and hit it together, there’s a lot of potential with this team, and I continue to say that. That’s one of the most exciting things is, ‘can it be this weekend?’ and that’s what you go into like, OK, we showed some highlights of success, we know what to build back on when we come back. Richmond’s going to be a good weekend. I can feel it.”
Wallace will try to achieve a season-best finish during Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400. The race takes place shortly after 3 p.m. ET with Fox providing coverage. MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will provide audio.