Ah…. Virginia in the Spring! Richmond Raceway had a push from Friday evening as rain came in just as green flag events were set to start. The march 31st Spring opener, NASCAR Whelen Modifieds, was rolled in to XFinity Saturday. The Virginia Is For racing Lovers 150 was now held over to Saturday afternoon to follow the ToyotaCare 250.

Saturday was April 1st… April Fools Day, as it were… The weather pulled more rain out of the jester’s hat and pulled the plug on XFinity practice and qualifying. The same for NASCAR Cup… No practice and no qualifying. The starting order to be determined by the “rules”, or points, or numbers from a hat, or magic. With that, Justin Allgaier was determined to start in the first slot.

He would lead the field to green when racing could get started. The rain held the new schedule back by a bit with racing going green about an hour late. This also pushed everything else back, as in the start of the Whelen Modified race. This might not have been a thing but some of the drivers, such as Bobby LaBonte, also had eyes on South Boston Speedway and the SMART Modified Tour which was now set for later Saturday night.

Yes… It’s all a bit confusing… Mostly wet and windy… But still confusing.

Once the rain had moved on and the green flag had waved, racing progressed with few incidents. The day set a second place finish for John Hunter Nemechek which extends his “almost but not quite” set as a runner up at Richmond. Nemechek has run 2nd in Trucks and XFinity for his most recent visits.

It was Chandler Smith taking charge on the final restart to get by Nemechek and take his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series win. The rookie was able to make the pass and the victory run over the final six laps to put the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet in Victory Lane.

Josh Berry also made the top three with a front running performance. Smith, Nemechek and Berry all had leading laps and solid racing for the entire rum of the ToyotaCare 250.

The Whelen Modifieds took the track as soon as the XFinity teams could clear it out. Early spins and crowded racing put several cautions on the field early on. The late half settled down as the laps began to turn with challenges for place on the longer run.

At the finish of the Virginia is for Racing Lovers 150, it was Austin Beers who led the field under the checkered flag. The performance carried forward his fast practice and pole winning drive at qualifying from Friday.

PHOTOS: NASCAR XFinity ToyotaCare 250 – Richmond Raceway – April 1, 2023

PHOTOS: NASCAR Whelen Modified – Virginia Is For Racing Lovers 150 – April 1, 202

A little luck and some lap traffic brought a come back win to Justin Bonsignore Friday evening at Richmond Raceway.

The Whelen Modified Tour ran at Richmond on April 1st, 2022 following the season opener at New Smyrna, Florida. A mechanical issue put Bonsignore off the race to finish last in Florida. The win at Richmond brought back some of the form for the three-time series champion.

Justin won the pole and ran well but it was Tommy Catalano that raised the pressure with a fast car and first position as the race came into the later laps. Slower traffic put Catalano off the pace which allowed Bonsignore to get back up and in position. Catalano spun slightly and with 10 to go, allowing Bonsignore to get by and lead to the finish.

Top Five at the Whelen Modified – Virginia is for Racing Lovers 150

  1. Justin Bonsignore
  2. Tommy Catalono
  3. Chuck Hossfeld
  4. Kyle Ebersole
  5. Tyler Rypkema

Well… Now it’s on! NASCAR has packed the April schedule with a Virginia run on short track racing.

*OK fine… Technically, the Bristol Motor Speedway is in Tennessee. However, Bristol itself is split on the Virginia border…

Richmond is up first. Martinsville the weekend after. Bristol (yeah yeah) is on Easter Sunday. This is reversed from Spring of 2021.

So far, season points races have seen young and newer Cup stars in the victory spotlights. Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski have wins in non-point, pre-season events.

Austin Cindric made his NASCAR Cup points debut in the #2 Penske Ford and won the Daytona 500. Defending Cup Champion Kyle Larson grabbed a win at Auto Club Speedway in California. Alex Bowman took Vegas making 7 career Cup wins. Chase Briscoe also notched his first Cup win with a checkers at Phoenix. William Byron added to his two previous wins (2021, 2020) with a victory in Atlanta. The most recent success came at Circuit of the Americas as Ross Chastain placed his first Cup win.

Ross Chastain places his first Cup win with the new Trackhouse Racing (formed from previous Ganassi team)

Oddly enough, Chase Elliott is currently leading the points with no wins but “top finish position” math adds up. Elliott is, oddly enough, the lone Hendrick driver without a win but is certainly making the effort.

Early season racing has focused on speed, drafting and shaking down the “new generation” car in race conditions. One exhibition short track outing gave a clue but the Virginia sweep will find all the tight pack nuances of how these bigger brakes and sequential shifting play out. The tight quarter pit stops will also make the teams hit all the new marks for tires and fuel.

NASCAR Cup features runs at all three tracks. The Xfinity Series runs at Richmond and Martinsville but skips the “dirt race” of Bristol. Camping World Trucks skip Richmond but run Martinsville and Bristol. Richmond Raceway also will host the Whelen Modified Series with the Virginia is for Racing Lovers 150 to fill out the Toyota Owners / Toyota Care weekend.

Xfinity will be on race number seven coming away from Circuit of The Americas. AJ Allmendinger grabbed the road course win. Ty Gibbs has two wins so far with Austin Hill and Noah Gragson holding one each. Cole Custer also has an Xfinity win but is running points in the Cup series. Gragson barely has a points lead in the series.

Noah Gragson wins at Phoenix and carries a slim Xfinity points lead

Camping World Trucks will be running their fifth race of the season at Martinsville. Chandler Smith and Corey Heim have one win. Zane Smith has two wins from Daytona and COTA. The math of finish positions and a win has Chandler Smith currently on top of the points going into Martinsville.

Chandler Smith wins at Las Vegas and holds the current Camping World points lead

Also, Richmond and Martinsville invite fans to the tracks on race week for “Charity Laps”. For Richmond Raceway on March 30, register and drive your car on the track with funds benefiting the Henrico Firefighter Foundation. For Martinsville on April 6, your car on the track benefits Vet Tix (Organization supplying sport and entertainment for United States Veterans).

Another highlight for the season in Virginia is Martinsville Speedway celebrating 75 years of NASCAR racing history at the track. The honors are reflected with a special anniversary display at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. However, Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400 weekend at Martinsville is just beyond. We have Richmond Raceway first up for April short track racing. The Whelen Modified race is a welcome return at Richmond with series runs there peppered back to 1990. Modified racing made a NASCAR sanction first for Virginia and Richmond way back in 1948.

Ryan Preece and Ryan Newman racing close at Richmond in the Whelen Modified Series – 2021

It’s time. April is NASCAR in Virginia. Also – Don’t forget to check your short tracks, too. Home tracks, dirt tracks and drag strips are all coming alive this month! Go racing!

Richmond Raceway – Toyota Owner’s Weekend – April 1-3

Martinsville Speedway – Blue Emu Pain Relief Weekend – April 7-9

Bristol Motor Speedway – Food City Dirt Race Weekend – April 15-17