Parks Pit Report: Toyota Owners 400

I was in Richmond, but because of rain the race was moved to Sunday and I couldn't be there.  Big mistake, cause it was a race that saw redemption.

I was in Richmond, but because of rain the race was moved to Sunday and I couldn’t be there. Big mistake, cause it was a race that saw redemption.

This weekend’s race at Richmond was a special one for many reasons, but for me personally this was an opportunity that I’ve not experienced in about five years.

The reason why:  I was there, although not the entire weekend.

As was seen earlier, this race was postponed due to rain, and because of other commitments, I couldn’t stay for the Sunday make-up run.  One thing about this sport is unless you’re really “In the sport,” as in have a full-time job in it reporting, broadcasting, or are on a crew, you are bound by your travel arrangements.  If you can’t afford to change flights or extend a hotel stay, or in my case get another day off from the regular job, you have to leave without seeing the main event.

But even with that, the experience of being back at the track and in the garage area is beyond anything that can be compared to sitting in the stands.  You actually feel the horsepower of these cars, and also see the meticulous work that goes into making the drivers and teams compete on a weekly basis to make the cars even better.

Now at the same time when you’re a member of the media, it takes on a different role.  It’s not like you can walk up to a driver and ask for an interview or answer a question.  Normally, it’s their availability that one can do that, and often others are taking the lead in asking the questions.  That’s when a digital recorder becomes one’s best friend, because rather than a note pad to get pieces and parts, you have a voice to listen to, and not one word is missed.

At the same time, you’re constantly being monitored, maybe not by track personnel, but other media members are watching to see if you step out of line, or on the opposite side actually help them out.  They can easily appreciate a question being asked that they originally were going to, but also if the privileges are being exploited or used in a wrong manner, it’s easy to be reported and have them pulled.

I really had to stay on my toes because I haven’t gone to a race in nearly five years, so I had to be careful.  But at a place like Richmond, especially with the crews that were there, everyone was helpful, and didn’t mind helping out a “rookie” so to speak.

That being said, the weekend went off spectacular, with qualifying, practices, and the Xfinity race.  So the big Sprint Cup race was postponed; I didn’t mind, because it was the lone bad thing that happened over the weekend.  I saw so many people I’ve not seen in years, and even had some I’ve never met recognize me from my pieces on Twitter (@AllHorsepower).  People like Claire B. Lang, who is on Sirius-XM NASCAR Radio, and the MRN crew, plus Krista Voda, who just signed on to be with NBC when they start broadcasting races in the summer.  They recognized me, just like I recognized them.

I even caught up with some writers who started out with me on Bleacher Report who now have gone onto better things.  My friend Kelly now writes for Popular Speed, while my other friend Billy actually works at Richmond in the PR department.

Overall, it was a spectacular experience.  That’s what it really is, an experience.  Will I go back to Richmond; absolutely, just not sure as to when.  Will I go to another race this season; possibly, but that’s yet to be determined.

Will I treasure getting this experience; without a doubt.

RESULTS:  1-Busch  2-Harvick  3-Johnson  4-Logano  5-McMurray  6-Kahne  7-Kenseth  8-Gordon  9-Bowyer  10-Truex Jr.

NOTABLE FINISHES:  14-Earnhardt Jr.  17-Keselowski  19-Edwards  22-Hamlin  41-Stewart

CAUTIONS:  8 for 53 laps.  Lap 52-56 (Competition Caution), 129-136 (Debris-BS), 139-143 (#98 Spin-T1), 164-170 (Fluid on Track-FS), 271-278 (Debris-T4) 352-358 (Debris-BS), 361-367 (#14, 88 Accident-T1), 369-374 (#9, 23 Accident-BS).

LEAD CHANGES:  12 among 5 drivers.  Logano 1-94, Busch 95-129, Harvick 130, Busch 131-164, Harvick 165, Busch 166-258, McMurray 259, Busch 260-261, McMurray 262-264, Keselowski 265-272, Busch 273-352, Keselowski 353, Busch 354-400.

TIME OF RACE:  3 Hrs, 5 Mins, 16 Secs.

AVERAGE SPEED:  97.157 MPH

MARGIN OF VICTORY:  0.754 Seconds

POINT STANDINGS:  1. Harvick, 357 points*; 2. Logano, -33*; 3. Truex Jr, -42; 4. Johnson, -58*; 5. Keselowski, -74*; 6. Kahne, -82; 7. Kenseth, -84*; 8. Earnhardt Jr, -86; 9. McMurray, -93; 10. Gordon, -94.  OTHER CHASE DRIVERS:  12. Hamlin, -112; 18. Busch, -135

*Chase Eligible

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