Motorsport News

When NASCAR Rules are Recommendations

2024 Cup Richmond I pack racing - Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Toyota, and Martin Truex Jr., No. 19 Toyota (Credit: Alex Slitz/Getty Images via NASCAR Media)

I’d like to start off this week by thanking two people for making this week interesting.

Martin Truex Jr. and Elton Sawyer.

First, Truex is my MVP of NASCAR’s Richmond Raceway weekend.

Truex went above and beyond the call of duty.

Sunday (March 31) night, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver could have been his usual calm, cool and collected self.

The kind of driver that reminds one of Mark Martin.

Instead, his inner Kyle Busch made its first appearance since the inaugural race on the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL in 2018.

It wasn’t until Truex roughed up Denny Hamlin‘s car on the cool-down lap of the Toyota Owners 400 that anyone had any idea something may have been fishy on the overtime restart.

Not that whoever directs the FOX broadcasts did anyone favors when it came to the camera work on the restart.

If Truex had been his normal Clark Kent self and not clued us in, what would we be talking about this week?

The successful use of wet-weather tires for the first time in a NASCAR Cup Series points race on an oval track for one stage and then yet another mind-numbing race at Richmond.

Brief sidebar: Give credit to NASCAR for pulling off the wet tires experiment after last year’s initial try in the heat races for the All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

That will be immensely beneficial to the sport going forward, as long as they don’t tempt fate and try it anywhere a mile or bigger that has significant banking.

Second sidebar: According to Jordan Bianchi at The Athletic, Richmond is “the leading candidate” to lose one of its two race dates in favor of a potential international race in 2025.

If so … good.

It’s not the late ’90s and early 2000s anymore.

Richmond lost the ability to be called the “Action Track” more than a decade ago.

A result of a dwindling race product has seen the dwindling amount of butts in seats in the grandstands.

Other tracks have lost their second race dates and flourished.

Just look at what Pocono Raceway — a track that hasn’t always been known for competitive Cup races — has produced attendance-wise in the last two years. In 2023, the Tricky Triangle had a sellout and the biggest crowd since 2010.

If Richmond does…

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