Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
OBSERVATIONS: Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway
Richmond Raceway has been long dubbed the perfect track, and it held up to it’s reputation with Saturday night’s Toyota Owners 400.
Despite a lack of cautions – imagine that on a short track, the race remained competitiveness to keep everyone’s eyes on the action. A pair of grooves enabled passes to be made, with drivers able to fight back despite adversity. Between the side-by-side racing and storylines, there is no shortage of stuff to talk about,
When Kyle Busch qualified 32nd, a lot of people believed his win streak would end at Richmond. Boy, how do you feel now? We know he has the ability to get the job done behind the wheel, and he showcased that driving from the back to eighth in 25 laps. If his runner-ups to start 2018 weren’t enough to convince you he is here to contend for the championship, is three straight wins enough?
Speaking of seconds, we know Chase Elliott has got to be annoyed with that statistic following his eighth runner-up on Saturday night. It wasn’t smooth sailing, though, as he faded back outside the top-15 at one point due to an ill-handling car on the long runs. Those late restarts and strong pit stops by the No. 9 crew paid off.
But there’s still work to do.
“Looking forward, we have to be realistic about how we ran tonight,”he said. “I think the result shouldn’t weigh into how hard we worked this week because we have some work to do. I think that we have to keep that in mind.”
Elliott has been criticized in the past by media and fans alike for being too hard on himself, but how do you get better if you don’t point out your weaknesses? That said, Hendrick Motorsports is further ahead than they were two months ago if you combine Elliott’s success with Jimmie Johnson fighting back to sixth despite getting in the wall and going down a lap at one point.
Mistakes have proven costly for some this year, and this week it cost Martin Truex Jr. He could have easily won the race, but a jack problem saw him finish 14th instead. Let’s just hope teams are getting these issues out of the way before the playoffs when they will cause bigger headaches.
Recall the big change this year that Richmond is no longer the last race of the regular season, but the first event of the playoffs. How do you feel about your driver’s chances?
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