NASCAR at Richmond After Thoughts from Just A Fan’s View

Well… Richmond lived up to my expectations Saturday night except for the fact that the JGR Toyotas of Kyle Bush and Denny Hamlin finished 1-2 with the RedBull Toyota of Kasey Kahne right behind in third on the night. Was I surprised? Well, yeah… but no, not really… I just expected the Chevys to do better than they did and I expected the Hendrick teams to make a bigger statement than they did.

When the Checkered flag finally dropped, Kyle Bush in his Toyota appeared like he dominated the night, (even though he didn’t) and the first Chevy was Clint Bowyer in sixth even after being involved in an accident. I have to tell you, I expected a good race but didn’t think it was going to end anything like it did. It does appear to this fan, the JGR Toyotas have definitely found something they like, and that works, at RIR very well for them.

Too be honest, (and of course from this fan’s view), much like Phoenix earlier this year, if there hadn’t been a big wreck back in the middle of the pack, the end of the race may have been a little different. The person I’m thinking of that would have probably been in there fighting for the win at the end that wasn’t is, Jeff Gordon.

In similar fashion to Carl Edwards being taken out of contention by that wreck in Phoenix earlier this year, Gordon was put on the truck following the incident involving several cars with around one hundred laps to go. He ended up sliding driver’s side first, hard into the inside wall in the incident he had nothing to do with other than being in the wrong place at the right time. Both of them suffered setbacks in the points because of the separate incidents several races apart, but Carl Edwards has rebounded from his incident quite nicely and it still isn’t too late for Gordon to get back into the hunt, IF, he is able stay out of trouble for a while. It has been an up and down year for him, so far, though.

Even though Jimmie Johnson had a very poor start to the weekend, he did manage to salvage an eighth place finish on the night. Of all the Hendrick teams I thought would come away from Richmond with a top ten finish, he was the one I least expected. In reality, I expected Dale Jr to finish well ahead of him, but, as it turned out, Jr finished a disappointing nineteenth, barely in the top twenty and wasn’t involved in any major accidents that I remember. (He just didn’t have a good night… despite the expectations of many.)

The Roush Fords didn’t do too bad, with David Ragan and Carl Edwards finishing fourth and fifth. Greg Biffle still hasn’t shown his usual strength yet and finished a somewhat disappointing fifteenth on the night. From my view, his struggle still seems to be carrying over from last season.

Even Tony Stewart ended up with a fairly good night by finishing ninth even though his Stewart/Haas driver/teammate Ryan Newman and Juan Montoya had some on-track disagreements and both of them ended the night twentieth and twenty-ninth respectfully. I don’t know what’s going on with them, but from this fans view, they do have a negative history between them and we all know Juan’s reaction to a little bumping is generally a bump returned with a vengeance on whoever bumps him before the race is over, even if it is incidental contact, like it appeared it was with Newman earlier in the race. (In fact, from my view, it looked a whole lot more like Montoya got into him more than Newman got into Montoya… but, then, the drivers usually do see things differently from their perspective…)

As I said earlier, I really didn’t expect the Toyotas to do as well as they did and to be honest, I didn’t expect Denny Hamlin to be near the front either. Yeah, I know he won two races to start off the weekend in Richmond, but his Cup ride hasn’t been going all that well.

Two of the three Toyotas in the JGR camp have been struggling for most of this first part of the year. Although we all know one race doesn’t make a season, I can’t help but think about how the Bush brothers did last year during the month of May and, if Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano have a similar month this year, it could very well be the Joe Gibbs teams will come out of May in a lot better shape than even they hope. Then again, it just may have been a good weekend at Richmond for them and nothing else may change. I reckon we’ll just have to wait and see on that one…

See ya next time…

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© May 3, 2011 – all rights reserved

Rusty Norman and

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