Richmond Raceway expands the 2022 Toyota Spring Race Weekend to host a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race on Friday, April 1, 2022. This will be the second consecutive season Richmond has hosted a Whelen Modified Tour race at America’s Premier Short Track.
“We welcome back the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour to Richmond Raceway after a successful, action-packed return this year,” said Richmond Raceway President Dennis Bickmeier. “We look forward to the talented drivers of the tour once again showcasing their skills next season at America’s Premier Short Track.”
Richmond first hosted a modified race in NASCAR’s inaugural season on May 16, 1948. The race was the first NASCAR sanctioned race in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Richmond hosted the modern-day NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour from 1990-1993, 1997, 1999-2002, 2021. NASCAR Hall of Famer Mike Stefanik, one of the Modified Tour’s 10 greatest drivers of all-time, holds the modern-day record with three wins at Richmond.
“The 2021 race was very exciting from start to finish. Our teams loved racing at Richmond and we look forward to the 2022 return to the Richmond and put on another great event for the fans,” said Jimmy Wilson, Series Director, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
In the spring, Richmond will host the Toyota Spring Race Weekend featuring the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour on Friday, April 1, 2022, ToyotaCare 250 NASCAR Xfinity Series race on Saturday, April 2, 2022 and the Toyota Owners 400 NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday, April 3, 2022.
Racing Virginia will be active in the month of April as the Commonwealth will host two Cup Series races in the same month for the second consecutive season as Martinsville Speedway will host a race on April 9, 2022. For the first time since 1997, NASCAR will make its first stop in the Commonwealth of Virginia at Richmond. Martinsville and Richmond have hosted back-to-back race weekends five times with the first time being in the spring of 1955.
Richmond will host its first-ever summer race weekend featuring the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs on Saturday, Aug. 13 and the Federated Auto Parts 400 Cup Series race on Sunday, Aug. 14. This will be the third consecutive season Richmond has hosted a Camping World Truck Series race and first-ever series playoff race. The Camping World Truck Series Playoff race will be the second race in the first round of the playoffs.
Start times and television networks for the Cup Series, Xfinity Series, Camping World Truck Series and Whelen Modified Tour will be announced at a later date.
2022 NASCAR tickets are available for purchase today via phone at 866-455-7223 or online at richmondraceway.com.
ByHolly Cain NASCAR Wire Service September 9, 2021 at 3:53 PM
Sean Gardner | Getty Images
Only two races remain to set the 12-driver NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff grid and the Regular Season Championship remains very much up for grabs with only a single point separating five-race winner Austin Cindric and three-race winner A.J. Allmendinger.
That means there’s certainly a lot on the line in Saturday’s Go Bowling 250 (2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at the 0.75-mile Richmond (Va.) Raceway – the Xfinity Series’ first trip to the track this season.
And to top it all off, one of the sport’s most popular drivers – ever – NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Jr. returns to the track for his annual one-race competition. With four wins in eight NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Richmond, Earnhardt leaves the NBC television booth Saturday afternoon and climbs into his JR Motorsports team’s No. 8 “United for America” Chevrolet an absolute favorite to win.
His teammate, JR Motorsports driver Justin Allgaier, a two-time winner in 2021, swept both events at Richmond last year and is the only full-time series driver with a previous win at the track. He’s finished fourth or better in the last four Richmond races and his 494 laps led is second only to Earnhardt’s 829 laps led.
The competitive level for Saturday’s race will be extremely high with Team Penske’s Austin Cindric and Kaulig Racing’s AJ Allmendinger involved in a tight regular-season title fight. Cindric’s third-place effort at Darlington, S.C. last weekend along with Allmendinger’s 20th-place showing has certainly tightened the standings and increased the competitive drama for these final two regular-season races.
“It’s gonna be a fun two weeks,” Cindric promised with a smile.
Although he has yet to win at Richmond, Cindric has been very good at the track scoring five top-10 finishes in six starts. He was runner-up in both 2019 races and led 64 laps in the spring Richmond race last year, finishing fourth. Allmendinger, on the other hand, has only one Xfinity Series start – a 14th-place finish back in 2007. The veteran competed in 23 NASCAR Cup Series races at the track with only three top-10 finishes – his best showing a sixth place in 2014.
As productive as Allmendinger has been this year, it’s easy to forget he’s only had 51 total Xfinity Series starts in his career and that this is his first full season in Xfinity.
Conversely, the 12th and final Playoff position is also still very much up for grabs – via a new race winner who would automatically transfer in or simply the points battle between Riley Herbst and Michael Annett.
The JR Motorsports driver Annett held that Playoff position before a leg injury forced him to miss four of the previous six races. Meanwhile, Herbst, who drives the No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, has earned four top-10 finishes in the last six races. Herbst has two top-10 finishes in three Richmond starts. Similarly, Annett has scored top-10 finishes in the last three Richmond races.
The latest driver to lock himself into the postseason is Noah Gragson. Gragson, 23, earned his first NASCAR Xfinity Series victory of 2021 this past weekend at Darlington, S.C. and has top-10 finishes in four of his five Richmond starts, including a runner-up showing in 2018.
Gragson, as with the rest of the field, can count on a legitimate threat from his boss Earnhardt, who has been a master at Richmond. In eight Xfinity Series starts, he has four wins and seven top-10 finishes. He won three consecutive starts in three decades – 1999, 2002 and 2016 – four of five starts including a 1998 win as well.
And Earnhardt’s No. 8 carries a special nod to the Sept. 11 race date. The Chevrolet’s paint scheme will include tributes to the people lost in the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks – with the two World Trade Center Towers, the Pentagon and the Flight 93 Memorial in the design with the phrase, “Never Forget” on the quarter panels.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since that terrible day,” Earnhardt said. “The spirit of unity and togetherness our country felt on Sept. 11 is just as relevant now as it was then. I’m honored to be driving this car and championing Unilever’s United for America program.”
RICHMOND, VA- The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour makes their first appearance at Richmond Raceway here in Virginia tonight for the first time in 19 years for a 150-lap event. For most, what will happen is very much an unknown, but there are a few here in the pit area, before the cars head out to practice that have an idea of what we might witness at 7:00 PM tonight.
One thing that everyone is raving about here is the facility. It is clearly the nicest infield and garage area that most of these race teams have ever experienced. It is the cleanest, most spacious work area these teams have ever had, and with it being a smaller infield, everything is easily accessible, even if you want to take a quick walk outside of the track through the tunnel that quickly leads you to the grandstand area.
“It’s so awesome to be here,” NWMT points leader Justin Bonsignore beamed. “Since I was a little kid it’s always been a talked about thing that the tour should be at Richmond. It’s really cool that we can get back here and have our own night, to showcase our series. Hopefully we get a good crowd and it becomes a yearly thing.
“A lot of unknowns. Some people think it will race a bit like Loudon. I don’t think it will. I think with the tire wear it will probably get strung out. You might see a guy pit late and have better tires. There’s a lot of tires available. We should have two pit stops if we want, and fuel involved.
“A lot of questions to think about all day long, but until we get out and run the race I don’t think anybody is going to know what might happen, or what the winning race strategy will be.”
Two Modified veterans are here for this event and they might have an idea of what will happen when the sun sets on this ¾ mile track tonight. Jan Leaty raced here 20 years ago. He will be crew chief for standings runnerup Patrick Emerling for their western New York based team.
“I’ve run here a bunch of times,” Leaty confirmed. “Very cool race track. I’ve been looking forward to this event. With the setups that we are running nowadays it’s different though. The track is 20 years older since we last ran here, so we’re going to have to feel our way through it here.
“A 90 minute practice will help, but I kind of know how the old girl changes at night when you get racing, but we’ll still have to be ready for most anything. I think that (knowledge) will help a little bit. Time will tell. While the cars look the same, the setups we run are not, and the tires are not the same either. There’s a lot to be considered. Hopefully we’ll be the ones to make the right changes.”
The weather here is splendid sunshine, with not a cloud in the sky, and very unusually dry air. The dewpoint is forecasted to be at 49. During practice the air temperature is expected to be near 80 degrees. By the time the race ends it will be in the 60’s, and the humidity level forecast goes from 53 when the race, to 72 by the time the checkered flag waves.
Phil Moran is a veteran crew chief, who has seen it all. Today he helps Doug Coby try to reach victory lane at a place that Coby called home for four years of college. This race is extra special to both, and Moran offered his thoughts on how it might play out.
“I think with a lot of the stuff that we’ve learned over the past 19 years, I think it’s going to be a pretty good race,” he began. “The lap times are going to be good, with no restrictor-plates on. “The 51 (Bonsignore) came down and tested the tires so we know we’re going to have a pretty good tire for here.
“I think it will be really interesting. I think it’s going to do like any other race track does (at sunset). It’s either going to free up or tighten up. One of the two. It’s an unknown here because of the surface. Once Loudon (New Hampshire) starts cooling down the track tightens up, where at Monadnock (NH Speedway), when the sun goes down we loosen up. It’s just the way the track takes rubber.
“It’s going to be who makes the best guess with us practicing and starting in the sun, with it coming down. But I don’t think the track temperature will drop a lot because it’s not going to cool down that fast, but it should be really interesting to see how it all plays out.”
Jamie Tomaino is the only driver to have raced in all ten previous RIR Modified Tour events. The New Jersey native, now living in North Carolina is also eager to see how this event will play out. Tomaino used his experience at Martinsville (VA) in the spring to earn a top ten finish.
“The first thing is that there aren’t as many cars as I thought there would be,” he noted. “Last time we ran here I think we were in the high 30’s. The more cars you have, the more action you will have. But you have quality drivers and equipment, so those two factors should mean that the cautions will be few.
“The one thing we all don’t know is, after 20 years the surface has to be more abrasive and there’s going to be more wear and tear on the tires. That is going to be the biggest thing. How fast do the cars fall off? Maybe if some of the teams go out there and run a lot of laps today in practice, to see how fast the tires fall off, we’ll know some more from that.
“It could be a shootout where an upset winner gets his first win because of the tire situation. Plus we’ve got to put fuel in the car. It should be an interesting race for sure.”
Ron Silk, winner of the previous two NWMT events, can’t wait to get his first laps around Richmond Raceway. He will put the Kevin Stuart owned car to the test as he tries to make it three wins in a row.
“I’m not really sure,” he smiled when asked what it will be like tonight. “This place is unknown to most of us. A beautiful place. Happy to be racing at a place like this. I don’t know, but it will probably be the same people that you’ve got to try and beat to win the race, and we are going to do the best we can to do just that.”
Two drivers who weren’t readily available this morning for interviews figure to be major factors when the green flag drops. Both Ryan Preece and Ryan Newman have plenty of laps around Richmond, and they not only bring name recognition to this 150-lap event, but they bring in two more potential race winners in a field that has many.
If you can’t get here to experience this event in person at 7:00 PM tonight, you can watch it on NBC Sports Trackpass. It has all of the makings of an epic night, on a big stage for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. It also has great potential to become an annual fall stop leading into tomorrow’s NASCAR Cup Series event for years to come.