Written by Rob Layman
Monday, 30 April 2012 16:39
Richmond International Raceway was the site of some pretty good racing over the weekend. Thursday night had the K&N Pro East Series and the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown, the latter featured the weekly NASCAR Late Model Stock Cars, driven by mainly weekly racers with a few of the Sprint Cup Series stars mixed in for good measure.
The K&N race was terrific from start to finish, including a great late race battle between Chase Elliott, Brett Moffitt, and Cory Lajoie. There was a green-white-checkered finish with all three racers side by side on the white flag lap.
Elliott and Moffitt would head off to turn three still side by side and finish just inches apart with Moffitt squeaking ahead for the win. The showdown also featured some pretty good racing throughout the field, but the finish didn’t have much doubt as Tony “Smoke” Stewart was definitely the strongest car at the finish.
Langley Speedway (Va.) racer Greg Edwards would be impressive, leading the first 32 laps after setting fast time, enroute to a second place finish. It was pretty cool to be able to watch these events live on SPEED, much thanks go to them for airing both of these events live.
Equally impressive to the K&N finish was the last two laps and finish of the Nationwide Series race Friday night.
Kurt Busch (driving for brother Kyle’s new team) and Denny Hamlin waged a tremendous battle over the last two laps, with the two men swapping paint all the way to the checkered flag. Kurt managed to stay ahead of Denny at the stripe, winning the first Nationwide race for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
Equally cool to getting that first win was seeing brother Kyle practically speechless and pretty emotional over the victory during his TV interview.
The Sprint Cup race Saturday night did not have the same dramatic ending, as Kyle Busch was able to take advantage of a late race caution and a great pit stop to win his fourth spring Richmond race in a row. This created a basic Kyle Busch sweep of the Friday and Saturday races.
There was some drama in the race with about 85 laps to go when Carl Edwards who thought he was leading, but in fact was second to Tony Stewart; got black flagged for jumping the start and had to serve a pass through penalty.
Edwards would get back to 10th but was pretty irate after the race. Tony Stewart was also pretty upset after the race having lost a pretty healthy lead late in the race due to a caution for a plastic water bottle on the track. His pit crew let him down, he came out of the pits second; and ended up finishing third. I can’t repeat here what I heard him say over satellite radio to his crew after the race!!
The point chases in both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup series are pretty tight at the top, with Elliott Sadler maintaining a slim two point lead over last year’s champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr.; and 23 points back to Austin Dillon in third. The bad thing though is that there is already more than a races worth of points back to Sam Hornish in fourth. We are only seven races into the schedule. In the top series,
Greg Biffle is still on top of the points by five over Dale Earnhardt Jr. and after nine races, eight drivers are still within a single races points.
There is however a bit of a gap back to ninth and further down the points list after just nine races in the schedule. Sure seems like only a handful of cars are steadily gaining points week after week.
Next week comes restrictor plate race number two of the season at Talladega, Alabama. Let’s watch and see what the points look like after the mayhem that often ensues at the two plate tracks….
I made a visit to a new track for me this week in Dillon, South Carolina and while the car count was pretty low in four of five divisions, this is a place worth catching a special event race at; it has some real character to it……
Well that’s all for me. Until next week keep the shiny side up!
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