Obviously, the NASCAR headlines this week have been dominated by Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s announcement Tuesday that he will retire at the end of the 2017 season. That momentous story has eclipsed everything else and by a wide margin.
But go beyond the tidal wave of Junior headlines and there’s plenty of news this weekend at Richmond International Raceway, site of Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400 (FOX, 1:30 p.m. ET).
Here are five NASCAR stories that may have been missed this week.
NASCAR via Getty ImagesMatt Sullivan
Joey Logano reaches 300
Less than four weeks shy of his 27th birthday, Logano will make his 300th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start Sunday at RIR. Logano, who drives the No. 22 Team Penske Ford, has 17 race wins, 86 top fives and 148 top 10s in his career. In the first eight races of 2017 Logano has seven finishes of sixth or better. And since joining Penske, Logano has become one of the sport’s elite drivers.
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Adios, short tracks
The Toyota Owners 400 is the third Cup short-track race in the last four races. Unfortunately, there isn’t another short-track race until Bristol in August. And that’s too bad because the previous two short-track races were really, really good, and we expect Richmond to be excellent as well.
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The forecast for Sunday, according to weather.com, is partly cloudy skies, a high temperature of 90 degrees and some passing clouds. That’s a sure-fire recipe for a hot, slick race, especially with NASCAR’s new low-downforce package. Add In NASCAR’s new stage racing format and there should be plenty of action on Sunday.
Getty ImagesKevin C. Cox
New crew chief
Richard Childress Racing director of operations Sammy Johns is replacing Slugger Labbe as the crew chief on Austin Dillon’s No. 3 RCR Chevrolet. Dillon made NASCAR’s playoffs last year, but right now is a disappointing 21st in points, with only one top-10 finish in the first eight races. This is the time of the year when teams that are struggling make changes, so don’t be surprised if some other teams make moves, too.
, LAT Images www.latphoto.co.ukRussell LaBounty
Back in the game
After a hugely disappointing start to the season, Joe Gibbs Racing is thrilled to be back at Richmond, where they team won the last three consecutive races. Matt Kenseth will start from the pole, and in the final Happy Hour practice, three of the team’s four drivers were in the top eight among those posting the best 10-consecutive lap average speeds. They should be stout on Sunday.