Passion is intrinsic to racing. Without that fire and drive, all we see are cars in a single-file line, wheeled by guys looking for paychecks. There are times where you wonder if that’s what will happen sooner or later, if greed will overwhelm the fun.
Short tracks on Saturday nights -like Richmond- debunk that theory.
It’s something about being under the lights, beneath a full moon that shakes the coals and makes sparks relinquish their defeat. That factor is beautiful in every aspect and should be preserved, special.
What we saw was quite special. Unbelievable, actually.
We saw racing.
When Juan Pablo Montoya was leading with ten laps to go, everyone was buzzing with the idea that he would get his first oval win. A charging Kevin Harvick was looking to crash that fantasy. It was a storybook climax; a driver who is a sitting, lame duck running down a driver who hasn’t lived up to others’ -and personal- expectations.
Yet, with a glimmering light at the end of this short track tunnel, a bend in the road: that wild caution with four to go. The banging of a steering wheel with clenched fists told everyone what Montoya was feeling.
In a split-second decision, the leaders decided to go down pit road. Some stayed out, some took four tires, some took two. This became a mixed bag; thrust your hand in, and you had no idea who you were going to draw.
Shockingly, the green-white-checkered finish was raced clean, and Harvick came out with the victory. An aggressive driver by nature, it was his hard-nosed demeanor that got him the trophy, along with his unwillingness to lay down.
With plans to go over to Stewart-Haas Racing next season, the Richard Childress Racing driver is putting together what might be the BANG to the ending of an era.
Speaking of BANG, we were preparing to see some heads explode, particularly the ones of two Busch brothers.
Kyle Busch was a popular pick to win his fifth-straight Spring race at Richmond, and he was on his way until a cycle of pit stops under caution threw him off. NASCAR first penalized him for not committing to pit road before the box (where the commitment cone would usually sit). However, while the cars were still riding around under caution, NASCAR rescinded the penalty.
NASCAR usually doesn’t take back penalties, so this was a big deal. Even though Kyle fell back and got caught up in a wreck, it said a lot.
The elder Busch brother was shaping up to have a great night before that green-white-checkered. When that restart occurred, he was beat up by -apparently- Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart.
So he had a bad time getting yelled at by Stewart after the race, but he ran well.
Short track racing is over for a while (excuse me while I cry), yet we have treacherous Talladega next weekend. The carnage quota will be filled because there will be fire in the air.
Fire lit by passion.
Point Standings after Richmond
1. Jimmie Johnson (–)
2. Carl Edwards (-42)
3. Kasey Kahne (-46)
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (-46)
5. Clint Bowyer (-53)
6. Brad Keselowski (-59)
7. Kyle Busch (-65)
8. Greg Biffle (-71)
9. Kevin Harvick (-72)
9. Paul Menard (-72)
11. Aric Almirola (-85)
12. Jamie McMurray (-98)