By: Becca Cottingham
Headline Photo Credit: NASCAR Twitter Page
After missing the spring race here in Richmond, Virginia we are back under the lights for short tracking racing. Covid-19 canceled the first Richmond Raceway race back in April. Tonight we are missing the fans in the stands and infield at Richmond that brings a little more excited to the track. But that will not keep the action and drama from unfolding tonight. Short-track racing will cause tempers to flare tonight. Drivers in the chase that are on the bubble of not making the next round of the Chase will be fighting for every possible position on the track. Just before the start of tonight’s race, two drivers will fall to the back of the field. Kyle Busch failed pre-race inspection twice and Christopher Bell had unapproved adjustments made in his car.
Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano will bring us to the green flag tonight. Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, and Austin Dillion have placed some space between them and the next group of drivers. Kyle Busch who fell to the back has already made up multiple positions stance the drop of the green flag. He is hoping that his experience from last night will carry over to the race tonight. Chase Elliot and Martin Truex Jr are running right next to each other just twelve laps into tonight’s race. The battle for second is heating up between Austin Dillion and Joey Logano. Austin will get around Joey on the front stretch of the race and is trying to catch race leader Kevin Harvick. Kevin Harvick and the front pack of cars are quickly catching the back several cars. This will be the first set of lap traffic that Kevin Harvick will have to navigate as Austin Dillon is right in his rearview mirror. Austin Dillon gets the bottom line going into turn one and two around lap twenty and in three and four he gets around Kevin Harvick. Austin Dillion is trying to show why he deserves to be in the playoffs. Kevin Harvick is starting to fade some, as Joey Logano has also made his way around him. Brad Keselowski is also trying to get around him. The drivers get the first time to choose where they want to restart after the competition caution. Austin Dillon will lead us to the green. However, the local hometown driver of Denny Hamlin has gotten to the front of the race. We get some bumping between Clint Bowyer and William Bryon. Clint Bowyer is currently below the cut off line and is trying to make up any ground possible to get into the next round of the chase. Denny Hamlin will stay out front and will get the stage one win.
Denny Hamlin was set to bring us back to the green but, he is set to fall to the back due to a pit road penalty. Along with Austin Dillon, both were caught speeding on pit road and had to fall to the back. Joey Logano brings us to the green and gets to lead for the first time tonight. Austin Dillion has added great progress through the field after falling back due to the penalty. He has made it back into the top twenty on a track that can be difficult to pass on. Denny Hamlin has made good movement but is still outside the top twenty. Joey Logano will keep the lead for the first forty laps of stage two as Brad Keselowski closes the gap between the front two drivers. Brad Keselowski gets down on the bottom of the track and was able to get around Joey Logano for the lead. Due to the length of stage two, we will probably see green flag pitstops if no one brings the caution out. With green flag pitstops, Kevin Harvick will take over the lead until he pits. Austin Dillion gets to lead a couple of laps before Brad Keselowski can catch back up to him and pass him. This will give Brad Keselowski the stage two win.
We enter the third and final stage with Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano bringing us back to green. They are followed closely by Martin Truex Jr who has won several Richmond races. The entire top ten is made up of all Chase drivers. While several more are just outside of the top ten. Everyone knows that a win at Richmond will punch their ticket to the next round. Drivers will need a pitstop for at least tires if not fuel. Penalties in this stage can cause havoc on a driver so they will need to be extremely cautious. Everyone is trying to chase down Brad Keselowski especially Martin Truex Jr who has had multiple back to back second and third-place finishes. But with two laps to go, he does not have enough and Brad Keselowski will be our unofficial winner of Richmond.