RICHMOND BRINGS NASCAR BACK TO PAR

Last week’s NASCAR Cup race at Talladega put up some record-setting statistics. Lead changes and number of leaders for a single event now have new heights to match. It was impressive and enjoyable. But it can’t be considered a norm.

Fast forward to the next weekend and the circuit rolls into its first of two annual Richmond weekends. The Virginia three-quarter mile oval is of exceptional design and usually provides great racing. Backing it up to Talladega puts it in a nice spot.

The biggest track and one of the shortest tracks scheduled consecutively provides teams with available equipment and fans with racing variety. The contrasting speedways add some spice often sought in the world of downforce facilities.

Richmond showcased another good race. It just was not historic like Talladega. And that is all right. Not every race can be one for the record books.

Two drivers, Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon dominated Saturday night. Busch won the pole, led the most laps, and wound up in victory lane. Gordon led most of the remaining laps and finished second. On a score sheet this could be interpreted as a bad race.

Richmond is a track that provides qualities both fans and drivers want: multiple grooves.

Drivers want to be able to have input into their car’s speed. It is impossible for all the cars to be perfect anywhere on the racetrack. The men behind the wheel want to search for a groove when the car does not run quick in a particular line. They also want to have some grip and room to pass another car when the opportunity is there. Richmond provides that.

Attendees want side-by-side competition for their hard-earned money spent on tickets. Single-file parades just do not cut it for the expense of Cup competition. Again, Richmond steps up to the plate.

But no matter what, we can still view dominant performances at any track at any time. Auto racing is no different from the rest of the sports world. I have watched thrilling Super Bowls. And viewed some blowout Super Bowls too. That is the nature of competition.

Talladega was exceptional. Richmond’s next event did not stand up to the superspeedway’s show but should not be held short. As it often does, Richmond hosted a good race.

Some rule and policy changes helped make Talladega a record-setter. Just good old fashioned short track racing a week later still made fans smile in spite of watching two guys dominate the lead.

We all can’t expect an instant classic every week, but we have the right to expect some good competition. Richmond is a good bet whenever the green flag waves.

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