Fast Thoughts for Sept. 20: Time for the fans to show their appreciation to Richmond Raceway
1 Considering all the efforts International Speedway Corporation and Richmond Raceway have put into the track over the past year, here’s hoping the hard work pays off with fuller grandstands this weekend. It’s easy to bash NASCAR for not being what it was a decade ago — in terms of attendance — or 40 years ago — in terms of driver personalities. But what has been accomplished at Richmond Raceway is impressive. The track experience, which was never bad, has been improved tremendously with the upgrades, and anyone who hasn’t made the trip lately will be shocked when they see it this weekend. The biggest complaint by NASCAR fans in recent years is that they feel they’re being ignored. In this case, Richmond Raceway and ISC heard you loud and clear. Let’s hope the efforts go appreciated Friday and Saturday.
2 A quick rundown of this weekend’s races:
Xfinity Series (Friday): The playoffs open this weekend, but the biggest name in the field will be two-time series champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. Earnhardt makes his only NASCAR start of the year after retiring from full-time competition last year. Among the playoff participants, Emporia native Elliott Sadler will try to cap his NASCAR career with an elusive Xfinity championship.
Monster Energy Cup (Saturday): Brad Keselowski will try to extend his winning streak to four following one of the best races of the season at Las Vegas. He’s already punched his ticket into the round of 12. Several drivers will need to rebound after tire failures and accidents wreaked havoc with the points standings. Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott, Erik Jones and Manchester High graduate Denny Hamlin are currently below the cut line with two races remaining in this round.
3 Virginia’s governor will take a spin around Richmond Raceway as the grand marshal of Saturday night’s Cup race. Gov. Ralph Northam will lead the field to the green flag for the Federated Auto Parts 400, continuing his summer tour of sports facilities in the state. That brought him to each of the nine minor league baseball stadiums in Virginia, and last month he made the trip to Virginia International Raceway in Alton for the Michelin GT Challenge IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. A self-professed car guy, Northam should have plenty to talk about with those who make the trip to the track this weekend.
4 Local spotlight: Motor Mile Speedway owner David Hagan announced that racing will return to the track next season following a one-year hiatus. Classes competing include Late Model, Limited Sportsman, Super Street, MOD-4 and UCAR. Hagan also said in a press release the New River Valley track has contacted NASCAR about renewing its sanctioning agreement for 2019. Visit RacingVirginia.com for more information.