I have been to Richmond International Raceway on two occasions, each with a different meaning. In 2010, the opportunity to cover the race on September 11 was very emotional, very challenging, because so many emotions were happening.
It was the final race before the NASCAR Playoffs, couple that with the emotion of the day, and it was a lot to take in for my first experience.
Two years ago, I spent my 30th birthday at the speedway, getting complements from other writers and broadcasters about the special day, one that I hope I get to experience in a few years when my birthday again lands on a Saturday.
But, one thing that Richmond has done since that birthday weekend is change one detail. Although some may not agree with the concept, drivers actually like the change.
The spring race for as long as I could remember, just like Bristol, was run during a Sunday afternoon. But for many years, both races were run under the Richmond lights. That’s not a problem because historically, night races are more popular with the fans, especially if unfortunately it gets postponed, then there’s still a great opportunity to have a great crowd for the next day’s action.
But, actually scheduling the race on a Sunday afternoon is better for the teams since for the majority of the time, the practice sessions and qualifying itself are run in daylight. It’s difficult to decide a setup for a night race when practice is run in daylight, sometimes in warm temperatures.
So when the spring race was moved to Sunday last season on purpose, it was a welcome change, and that is fine in my book.
It makes for more of a challenge when it comes to rain, but in the end, it’s a good move. Besides, Richmond this year hired a new marketing team to promote the speedway and bring in the fans. It’s led by the same guy who works with WWE part of the year alongside one of their talents, one who is part-time but is extremely revered as an individual that pretty much gets his way in the long run.
To paraphrase his catchphrase from his current WWE run, “Ladies and gentlemen. My name is Paul Heyman, I am the advocate for the reigning, defending, WWE Universal Champion, the Beast Incarnate, Brock Lesnar. But now, I am also the advocate for what NASCAR fans, teams and drivers alike have termed ‘Racing Perfection.'”
Hopefully when he does the night race later this year, Heyman doesn’t bring Lesnar to the track, unless he is there with Kevin Harvick since each have Jimmy Johns as a sponsor.
STAGE 1 WINNER: Matt Kenseth
STAGE 2 WINNER: Brad Keselowski
RESULTS: 1-Logano 2-Keselowski 3-Hamlin 4-Stenhouse Jr. 5-Harvick 6-McMurray 7-Newman 8-Kurt Busch 9-Almirola 10-Truex Jr.
NOTABLE FINISHES: 11-Johnson 14-Larson 16-Kyle Busch 30-Earnhardt Jr.
CAUTIONS: 9 for 53 laps. Lap 7-12 (#77 Incident-T4); 67-72 (#17 Incident-T4); 102-110 (Stage 1 Conclusion); 202-211 (Stage 2 Conclusion); 252-256 (Debris-FS); 345-349 (#88, 48 Incident-BS); 358-361 (#88 Incident-T3); 368-371 (Debris-T4); 378-381 (#41, 21 Incident-T3).
LEAD CHANGES: 18 among 8 drivers. M. Kenseth 1-163; B. Keselowski 164-204; M. Kenseth 205; D. Hamlin 206-228; K. Harvick 229-237; B. Keselowski 238-251; K. Harvick 252; D. Hamlin 253-286; B. Keselowski 287-319; R. Newman 320-344; K. Harvick 345; B. Keselowski 346-357; Kyle Busch 358; B. Keselowski 359-360; D.
Hamlin 361-362; B. Keselowski 363-370; J. Logano 371-378; K. Larson 379-383; J. Logano 384-400.
TIME OF RACE: 3 Hrs, 12 Mins, 8 Secs.
AVERAGE SPEED: 93.685 MPH
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 0.775 Seconds
POINT STANDINGS (Points/Behind Leader [Playoff Points]): 1. Larson, 398 ; 2. Truex Jr, -40 ; 3. Elliott, -52 ; 4. Logano, -65 ; 5. Keselowski, -71 ; 6. Harvick, -112 ; 7. McMurray, -116; 8. Johnson, -128 ; 9. Bowyer, -132; 10. Kyle Busch, -163 ; 11. Hamlin, -167; 12. Blaney, -169 ; 13. Newman, -173 ; 14. Bayne, -182; 15. Stenhouse Jr, -197; 16. Jones, -205.