They used to call Richmond Raceway the “Action Track,” but after racing 400 laps without a non-manufactured caution flag, they might need to forget that nickname ever existed.
This isn’t the fault of the track. This isn’t the fault of the drivers. This is the fault of a rules package that makes a gentle rub against another car a death penalty for a driver’s chances. My dream is that NASCAR will change the template for short tracks and even tracks that race like a short track. Open up the wheel wells and dumb down the aero and let these drivers beat and bang again! Is it too much asking for the old cliche of “eight tires cornering better than four” to be used again? Let’s check the Power Rankings after Richmond.
- Kevin Harvick – A solid but unspectacular seventh-place finish is not going to change anything this week. Harvick is still the top dog, who has had the best season of any driver without a doubt.
- Denny Hamlin – NASCAR’s best driver in Cup history to never win a Cup title had a rough day at Richmond, mired in traffic. A 12th-place finish was like a win under the circumstances.
- Martin Truex Jr. – Except for winning more than one race, this has been an amazing season for Truex. He was the favorite to win last week, but could only manage to chase Bad Brad to the checkers. Speaking of Brad….
- Brad Keselowski – The fourth win of the season, but just the second time luck didn’t play into the final result. Bad Brad called his shot — ala Babe Ruth or Joe Namath (Use that Google machine if you are under 40) — and dominated the race from start to finish.
- Chase Elliott – After the Richmond race if the folks at Hooters don’t start touting their contactless NASCAR style delivery, they are missing out on a huge promotion! I know he had NAPA on the car but the Know How jokes wouldn’t have been as funny.
- Joey Logano – The cream of the crop seems to be rising to the top early in the postseason, and so far Sliced Bread is part of that rising cream. I believe the only way Logano can miss advancing in the playoffs is to get lost on his way to Bristol.
- Kyle Busch – What in the wide wide world of sports is going on around here with Rowdy? Now he can’t even seem to win in an inferior series! 2020 will be remembered for many things, but if he goes winless all season that will be the most surprising of all.
- Aric Almirola -.This has been a weird season for Almirola. It appeared the Nos. 10 and 14 would be battling in a virtual racing game of Last Man Standing with only one going on to next season with the team. Almirola just can’t close out wins.
- Alex Bowman – This has been a season of inconsistency for Bowman the Showman, but after the top six guys in the Power Rankings, the rest are basically interchangeable on any given week. This was a solid week for the No. 88.
- Clint Bowyer – That was a hard fought 10th place for NASCAR’s funny man. He is the Bubble Boy heading to Bristol Motor Speedway but might be just good enough to live another round.
- William Byron – Apparently Richmond was not a good iRacing track for Byron either. His effort on Sunday was very weak and could be the end of his Cinderella-like story this season.
- Austin Dillon – Did Paw Paw go down to New Orleans and meet with some Voodoo specialist? Did he find a way to channel the spirit of Dale into the grandkid for the NASCAR playoffs?
- Cole Custer – The rookie has an OK day at Richmond, but he needs more than OK if he wants to continue his improbable playoff run. Some teams are just happy to be there every year, and it shows with a first round exit. Could Bristol be Custer’s last stand?
- Ryan Blaney – How could a team car to the winner look so slow all day when the winner was so dominant? Is it the driver or just a team in disarray? The fact the driver has only had one win a season during his career means he gets part of the blame.
- Kurt Busch – There was a time this season that I was a believer that the best Busch in Cup this year was Kurt. But now I am just shocked he still has a chance to advance to the Round of 12.
- Matt DiBendetto – Speaking of teams that are acting like they were just happy to make the playoffs. I am a true believer that bigger things are ahead for the driver they call Guido and this historic team.