The elite of NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series will be racing under the lights again, this Saturday night, at the Richmond International Raceway the short track that thinks it's a super speedway. The name of this particular race prompts a major question: WHO IN THE WORLD IS GARY FRIEDMAN?
Earlier this year Crown Royal Whiskey, the official race sponsor, launched a promotion they called "Your Name Here." Racing fans were invited to submit online videos detailing heroic acts. They received over 5,000 of these videos featuring a wide range on contestants that included members of our Armed Forces, firefighters and even dedicated Dads who were willing to go the extra mile to resolve a situation.
The winner of this grand prize is Gary Friedman who is a solider from New York State. Friedman recently returned from a tour of duty in Iraq and is a two time recipient of the purple heart. Friedman gets to participate in all prerace activities including giving the command to start the engines. He said he's looking forward to all of this fun and the opportunity to salute his fellow members of the Armed Forces who are serving in the middle east.
Saturday night's race has been officially named the Crown Royal Gary Presents The Friedman 400. The soldier's name will be included in all official race logos including souvenirs such as race programs, hats and shirts. The name will also be used by all of the racing media including the live television broadcast. THE BREAKDOWN
|Ragan and Kenseth collide in last year's race|
The Crown Royal Gary Friedman 400 is 400 laps/300 miles, around the Richmond International Raceway's three fourths of a mile D shaped oval.
The race has 45 entries with ten of them being on "go or go home list" meaning they will have to drive their way into the race via qualifying because they are outside of NASCAR's top 35 in owner's points.
The live broadcast of the race will be aired by Fox Sports beginning 7 pm eastern time.
The defending race winner from last year is Clint Bowyer. Jimmie Johnson won the Fall race held in September.
Brian Vickers holds the track qualifying record, 129.983 MPH, set in May 2004.
King Richard Petty leads the all time driver's list for the most wins at Richmond with 13.
Among the active drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson and Terry Labonte have three wins each.
Richard Petty and Bobby Allison are tied for winning the pole position at Richmond. These drivers have led the field under the starting flag eight times.
Among the active drivers Jeff Gordon has the most number one starting positions with five.
Richmond has been kind to Chevrolet teams over the years. The bow tie brigade has won there 34 times. Ford has 28 wins while Dodge drivers has visited victory lane 17 times.
A race at Richmond is capable of becoming a crash fest. The record for the most cautions there is 15 set in 2003. At the same time it's possible to go the entire distance without a yellow flag but the last time it happened was back in 1976.
The Richmond International Raceway has played a very prominent role in NASCAR's history. The first race there was in 1946. The track, originally named the Atlantic Rural Exposition Fairgrounds, was a half mile dirt oval.
The first NASCAR sanctioned race there was held in 1953. Buck Baker was the fastest qualifier. Lee Petty won the race.
Since 1953 NASCAR has presented 105 Sprint Cup races at Richmond with 45 different winners going to victory lane.
The track was converted from dirt to asphalt in 1968.
In the winter of 1988 the track underwent major renovations and was transformed into the three quarter mile D shape oval, with 14 degree banking, that we know today. The track presently seats 112,029.
Over the years the track was extremely kind to Petty Enterprises who has 15 wins there. In 1986 Kyle Petty won his first race at Richmond and became NASCAR's first ever third generation winner.
THE VEGAS REPORT
"Vegas Insider Dot Com" is telling us that Kyle Busch is going to win Saturday night's race and is backing that at 3 to 1 odds. He's followed closely by three time winner Jimmie Johnson at 4 to 1. There are a lot of Virginia racing fans who may disagree with "Vegas Insider" placing hometown hero Denny Hamlin at 5 to 1. Hamlin does extremely well at this track.
Other NASCAR Sprint Cup notables include Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon at 6 to 1 and Mark Martin at 8 to 1. The Junior Nation will not be thrilled about Dale Earnhardt Jr coming in at 10 to 1 despite the fact that he's had a lot of success at Richmond. Carl Edwards joins him in the 10 to 1 ranking. "Vegas Insider" is not showing any love to Richard Childress Racing this week. Defending race winner Clint Bowyer is rated at 15 to 1 followed by Kevin Harvick, 18 to 1, and Jeff Burton who was ranked at 20 to 1.
NASCAR reminds us that these numbers should be used for entertainment purposes only and they do not recommend or condone the placing of wagers on their races.
But if you're going to do it anyway, and many of you will, you may as well be provided with the latest information.