Mending Relationships in NASCAR Richmond: An Essential Element of the Race


NASCAR’s Toyota Owners 400 at the Richmond Raceway provided drama, strategy, and a thrilling finish for viewers. The race began with Denny Hamlin in pole position, leading much of the first stage before pitting and being eliminated from contention later in the race when he received two speeding penalties on pit road. Ryan Blaney, who finished in second after leading for nineteen laps, provided strong competition for eventual winner William Byron, who won the race when Christopher Bell spun him in the first turn with only ten laps left running. Also in the top five were Ford driver Kevin Harvick and Michael McDowell, who was the top finishing Ford driver with a sixth-place finish after putting in a strong chase at the end of the race. Meanwhile, Ty Gibbs and Martin Truex, Jr. had strong drives, respectively finishing in ninth and eleventh place.

Daniel Suarez, who drove for the Trackhouse team, was assessed a $50,000 penalty after the checkered flag waved after he hit team-mate Alex Bowman who was brake-checking him. He provided commentary in the wake of the assessment, explaining that he thought it wasn’t the right thing to do but accepted the decision as his team tried to message him on the repercussions of his actions.

NASCAR Cup drivers highlighted a difference between settling disputes with teammates and other competitors due to their need to work through their differences with each other. Denny Hamlin noted the rules to avoid on-track retaliation, while Ryan Blaney noted the difference between “mending” issues with one another and outsiders. Kyle Busch recalled how Rick Hendrick, owner of his former team, brought him and Jeff Gordon together to mediate their differences.

Brad Keselowski noted different contributing factors to the lack of respect on the tracks, such as the cars’ durability, different track layouts, and changes in driver behaviour, while still noting that the racing can be compelling to watch. Kevin Harvick topped the ranks of the Ford team at Richmond Raceway, finishing fifth with a rough day at the short track, while Michael McDowell had a surprise run at the track and posted his first top-ten this season, providing a hint that his short track program is turning the corner. Ty Gibbs never entered the top ten but managed a ninth-place finish with a strategy call from his crew chief, and Martin Truex Jr. had an unfortunate run for the front of the field after his Joe Gibbs Racing team had to put scuffed tires on his Toyota during the final pit stop.

Overall, the Toyota Owners 400 at the Richmond Raceway was an exciting and thrilling race with many memorable moments. It showcased the different strategies and differences between working with teammates and other competitors, as well as the varying impact of the rules and different track designs on the competition.