NASCAR Saturday: The Dan Lowry 400 at Richmond International Raceway

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The only NASCAR race on the Sprint Cup schedule named after an essay winner takes place this Saturday at Richmond, where two-time defending Cup champion Jimmie Johnson is the favorite at +500. Johnson swept both races at Richmond last year and finished in the Top 4 in three of his last four events this year, including his first win of the season in Phoenix. Both Phoenix and Richmond are short tracks; the RIR track is especially tiny at three-quarters of a mile.

The Cup driver with the best record at Richmond is Kevin Harvick, with six straight Top 10 results and a victory in the 2006 fall race. But Harvick is buried in the middle of the pack at +1500; his No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet took the checkered flag just once last year and has yet to do so in 2008.

This year’s top winner has been Carl Edwards, who has brought Roush Fenway Racing back into the Cup picture by taking first place at Texas, Las Vegas and California. He’s the second favorite behind Johnson at +600. Richmond, however, has not been kind to Edwards. He has yet to win there in seven tries and conked out after 182 of 400 laps in his last attempt. Edwards also endured engine failure in Atlanta this year and limped to a 40th-place finish last week at Talladega.

Kyle Busch, who won last week’s Aaron’s 499, is the third favorite for Saturday’s race at +700. The race begins at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.

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