Bowman gets Cup pole at Richmond after rainout

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA - APRIL 01: A detail view of the Video Screen Leaderboard during a weather delay in practice for the NASCAR Xfinity Series ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond Raceway on April 01, 2023 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by David Jensen/Getty Images)

NASCAR Cup Series practice and qualifying from Richmond Raceway for the Toyota Owners 400 was canceled due to rain Saturday.

That means the field has been set by NASCAR’s metric, which combines owner points, finish, and fastest lap at last week’s race at Circuit of the Americas, giving Alex Bowman the pole with Kyle Busch next to him.

Bowman is now points leader after he and his Hendrick Motorsports teammates had their points restored on appeal following a penalty for illegal hood louvers. He would’ve started fifth if his points weren’t restored.

“Not a huge difference,” Bowman said, “but obviously having clean air at the start is important. This has been a tough place for me, even with a win here, so obviously just have a good solid day and keep chipping away at it.”

Losing track time before the race is especially impactful since NASCAR is using its new short track package for the first time at the track, as Austin Cindric pointed out immediately after hearing about the cancellation.

“Obviously everybody’s in the same boat, but certainly the opportunity to practice this weekend would’ve been great,” he said. “To be honest, though, it was part of our strategy for the week just knowing the percentage of rain on Saturday.”

“We came in knowing the challenges of the weather,” he added, “so I think Phoenix gives us a pretty good gauge.”

However, Bowman himself doesn’t even think the package will matter since Richmond always feels the same.

“I don’t even think the race changed much when we went to the Next Gen car,” he said.

NASCAR Xfinity Series qualifying at the track, scheduled to start at 8:00 a.m. Saturday, was already canceled with the rain. With the field having been set by owner’s points, Justin Allgaier will start on the pole for the race scheduled at 1.15pm, while Dawson Cram and Kyle Weatherman have been sent home.

The Whelen Modified Tour race is still scheduled to begin after the Xfinity race, tentatively taking green at 4:30 p.m.

AccuWeather predicts a high chance of rain until after 2:00 p.m. Sunday’s forecast calls for no rain and sunny skies.

Owen Johnson