The weather was out there and on the radar days before the weekend at Richmond International Raceway. The hope, of course, was that some supreme intervention would take place and push the rain off by just one day. It was the race that was pushed as the rain came all day and into the scheduled race time Saturday night. The Toyota Owners 400 was run on Sunday.

It was a week before that the scheduled daylight race at Bristol was pushed under the lights by wet weather. It was the flipside at Richmond as the Saturday night race went off the stripe in the early afternoon of Sunday.

The Friday events went off under comfortable blue skies and a nice, but cool, evening. Practices and qualifying were played out as teams gathered their data and set up for racing. The Xfinity Series ToyotaCare 250 was, apparently, the star shine for Toyota as Denny Hamlin took off from the pole in the FedEx #11 Toyota and, except for two laps, was out in front to the finish.

The rain delayed Toyota Owners 400 was a runaway for Kurt Busch and the HAAS Automation #41 Chevrolet. Joey Logano gave up the lead from the pole at lap 95 and Busch kept himself out front. Team mate Kevin Harvick gave him a go as did Jamie McMurray but Busch held it. Justin Allgaier even chased from the 2nd spot for a few laps. Jimmie Johnson was up close as was Kahne, Kenseth and Gordon but were mostly trying to hang on to single digit finishes.

At the checkers it was Busch, Harvick, Johnson, McMurray and Logano rolling through as winner through five.

There was also a brief and fiery reminder of just how much this sport rides the line. It was what seems to be a freak accident Friday night involving the gas can and nozzle as fuel went onto pit toad at the tail of Brendan Gaughan’s #62. Something sparked and the pit was a fireball as the Gaughan frantically pulled from the pit with flames licking off the back. Crewmembers were treated and or hospitalized but all, at this time, are reported to be OK and recovering.

It was just a day or two shy of a year ago when fire was also an issue at RIR as Goodyear tires were over heating and flaming up. Remember Clint Bowyer’s #15 rolling on flames….?


Footage FOX Sports Broadcast

Photos: Xfinity Series ToyotaCare 250 (Friday 4-24)

Photos: Sprint Cup Toyota Owners 400 (Sunday 4-26)

BONUS PHOTOS: Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown at South Boston Speedway (Thursday 4-23)

There was a bit of James Taylor in the mix over race weekend at Richmond. Yes, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain.

Not in that order, but it was there.

The rain was Friday. The sun was out for practices and qualifying for the Nationwide ToyotaCare 250 and the K&N Series Blue Ox 100.

However, just before the clock ticked over for Sprint Cup qualifying for the Toyota Owners 400 the skies went dark and opened up. There was wind and lightning and rain. The scheduled start of the ToyotaCare 250 was on hold. Then it stopped and the track dryers were racing to get it done. Covers were coming off cars. Fans were getting back in the seats. Drivers were suiting up. (more…)

Racing is NOW. The options play it on the moment. There is no “what if” and hindsight is only useful, possibly, for taking knowledge to the next track.

Richmond and the Toyota Owners 400 offered up a perfect scenario as an example. The race also, for anyone willing to listen, threw a lug nut at the “rednecks turning left” stereotype.

Second point first. Too often, people who do not follow racing actually turn an eye of disdain towards the sport in general. It’s a bunch of rednecks, crashing around, turning left after left, stupid, cheap beer and fat and loud.

Not so much. Granted, there are a few out in the stands that may loosely fit the mold. The rest of us give them a nod and wave and a “have a good time”…

On the track, the race plays out as a result of engineering, technology and planning. The people involved in building, maintaining and driving these cars are quite intelligent and often could be very successful with any venture. However, they work for a race team so that is supposed to make them, somehow, less than employees of some other technology business. No.

Beyond any of the engineering and hi-tech construction, there is a chess match being played out at speed on the track every second of every lap. The game of chess is assigned as a “smart” person’s game. How “smart” do you need to be to play chess when the pieces are moving at 100-200 miles per hour?

Pretty damn smart.

Now for the first point concerning the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond and the “now” factor… (more…)

Richmond is coming up. It’s a big week with four races beginning Thursday with the K&N Pro Series Blue Ox 100 followed by the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown. Friday is the Nationwide Series ToyotaCare 250 and the big dance is Sunday for the Sprint Cup Toyota Owners 400.

Now, with Thursday racing featuring the name of a certain driver questions remain. The 100% GO has not been issued for Denny Hamlin to race this week although there was speculation he could be. We’re certain he’ll be around as he has been for the past few races since Martinsville but not in the seat. Speculation was on with a “50-50” shot at being back for the Toyota Owners 400 but as of this point Brian Vickers is entered as the driver of the #11 FedEx Toyota.

It’s on the doctors to give the green but they will not unless they are sure he is 100%. We’ll hold on and see. (more…)