Richmond provides endless Chase storylines

Even though we didn’t have any Chase positions change Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway, you have to admit we still had one of the wildest ends of the regular season that we’ve ever seen.

Richmond always seems to yield exciting racing. Like I mentioned last week and in previous columns, Richmond is that perfect little short track.

It is still short enough to be considered a short track but it is big and wide enough that there is good racing all through the field.

We had endless storylines Saturday night alongside some great racing. There were so many races within the race to follow despite the dominance by Martin Truex Jr. and race winner Denny Hamlin.

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There was the saga of rookie Chris Buescher and his quest to stay in the top 30 in points to qualify for the Chase.

That young man had one issue after another thrown at him. He had a flat tire on lap 308 and then had substantial damage in the big crash at lap 362.

He kept his poise, didn’t get rattled, eventually got a little help and luck along the way which earned him his first-ever spot in the Chase.

To me, no matter how he and the team fare in the Chase, this remains probably one of the top two or three feel-good stories of the 2016 season.

We saw Ryan Newman and his No. 31 team try everything under the sun to get into the Chase.

Unfortunately for them, they came up short and after making the Championship race last year, Newman will be on the outside looking in. 

We saw the same thing with different strategy by the No. 5 car trying to put Kasey Kahne in position to possibly pull off the upset of not only winning the race but making it into the Chase.

Chase is about to show why ugly is the new beautiful in NASCAR

As I mentioned last Friday, they had to win as it was their only chance to make the 2016 Chase. Just like the No. 31, they too came up short.

I know it sounds funny to say this but we had the "Big One" on a short track which not only damaged a lot of race cars, but also released a lot of pent up anger. We had tempers flaring between Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski but also Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman.

I mean c’mon, what is short track racing with out tempers being lost, right?

I don’t know what to say about the continuing issues on pit road. Saturday night brought us 10 pit road penalties again. If my math is correct, I think that puts us at something like 130+ pit road penalties for the year.

Believe me, with the Chase starting this weekend; you simply can’t win it all when you beat yourself on pit road time after time.

Saturday night gave us something going on all the time. I had picked Denny Hamlin to win the race.

I just liked what I saw from he and the No. 11 team from the minute they unloaded. Naturally winning the pole and having the primo pit box selection were huge factors in their favor.

Heading into Saturday night’s race, I expected to see the 16 drivers in Chase position all lock up spots for the playoffs and that’s exactly what happened.

Now it’s time to put the regular sesaon behind us and start the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

 

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