The one thing about short track racing is that emotions are worn on every driver’s sleeve. It is not like two weeks ago at Talladega where you had to work with someone to get to the front of the pack. No, at a short track, the way to the front is often beating and banging someone out of the way.
Couple that with doing it under the lights on a Saturday night, and it is officially the perfect complement.
At the same time, those emotions can often mean someone is going to be upset at another driver. It’s those kind of incidents that keep the fans intrigued, and very into the sport.
Saturday night, the track on the schedule was the Richmond International Raceway. It has the nickname of “Racing Perfection” and quite honestly that is accurate. This track has speeds that you would see at a mile or 1.5-mile track. But, then you get to have that kind of speed crammed into a 0.75-mile, D-shaped short track. Plus, the race was on a Saturday night. In a way, it’s the perfect storm for racing because the bumping, banging, and tempers all come out at this track.
Some of the incidents that come to mind that bring out those tempers are Jeff Gordon vs. Rusty Wallace in 1998 when Wallace spun Gordon entering turn 1. Possibly the most infamous in the last 10 years came in 2003 when it was Kevin Harvick and Ricky Rudd having an altercation on the track.
With Rudd finishing higher, Harvick came to showcase his displeasure, and did so by standing on his car and going off on Rudd. Suddenly Harvick’s crew got involved as they jumped on Rudd’s No. 21 car, destroying the nose after it came onto pit road without a scratch.
Saturday night, a new incident can be added to that long list.
It all started when Ryan Newman got into Juan Pablo Montoya, with Montoya hitting the wall just past turn 2. Newman apologized, saying he didn’t mean to do so. The message was relayed to Montoya’s spotter, but even Newman wasn’t sure the message got delivered.
Apparently it didn’t, because later in the race, Montoya found himself outside of Newman, and entering turn 3, he turned hard left into Newman’s right-rear corner. The move sent Newman into the outside wall, and causing a lot of damage to his No. 39 Chevrolet.
Newman was upset, but he didn’t want to do anything in the race, despite NASCAR telling Montoya that if he got into Newman one more time, he would be parked for the night. Instead, Newman decided to take care of things post-race, but in possibly the most unconventional way. He didn’t confront Montoya, although he wouldn’t have the chance since Montoya made a hasty exit on the back of a golf cart.
What Newman decided to do was go to the NASCAR hauler and discuss the incident, and what was going to be done about it, with NASCAR President Mike Helton. He got some answers, but still isn’t sure if it will be taken farther.
Lost in all that commotion was Kyle Busch winning his third consecutive spring race at Richmond, but in a way that is understandable. Let’s face it, it’s those kind of incidents that are supposed to be the most talked about after a short track race. It’s what bring the fans to the track, and what keeps them coming back each year.
Tracks like Richmond are built on having short tempers. This was just another chapter in a never-ending book.
RESULTS: 1-Kyle Busch 2-Hamlin 3-Kahne 4-Ragan 5-Edwards 6-Bowyer 7-Allmendinger 8-Johnson 9-Stewart 10-Vickers
NOTABLE FINISHES: 12-Harvick 15-Burton 19-Earnhardt Jr. 21-Kenseth 39-Gordon
CAUTIONS: 8 for 60 laps. Lap 108-115 (Debris-BS), 187-193 (Debris-BS), 238-244 (No. 39, 42 accident-T3), 257-264 (No. 20, 48 accident-T2), 266-270 (No. 2, 13 Spin-T1), 280-284 (No. 2, 09 Spin-T2), 293-299 (No. 2, 83 Spin-FS), 305-316 (No. 00, 1, 5, 17, 22, 24, 27, 33, 34 Accident-BS).
LEAD CHANGES: 14 among 10 drivers. Montoya 1-25, Bowyer 26-43, Kahne 44-72, Hamlin 73-89, Kyle Busch 90-199, Gordon 200-203, Kyle Busch 204-238, Hamlin 239-245, Truex Jr. 246-257, Kenseth 258-273, Hamlin 274-287, Kyle Busch 288-293, Edwards 294-304, Burton 305-316, Kyle Busch 317-400.
TIME OF RACE: 3 Hrs, 8 Mins, 55 Secs.
AVERAGE SPEED: 95.280 MPH
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 1.805 Seconds
POINT STANDINGS (Top 12): 1. Edwards, 335 points; 2. Johnson, -9; 3. Kyle Busch, -30; 4. Earnhardt Jr, -34; 5. Harvick, -35; 6. Kurt Busch, -46; 7. Bowyer, -51; 8. Newman, -58; 9. Kenseth, -59; 10. Stewart, -60; 11. Allmendinger, -72; 12. Montoya, -73.