Tag:Richmond International Raceway
Posted on: September 14, 2011 11:50 am

Richmond TV ratings increase

Posted by Pete Pistone

ABC's live telecast of the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday night, Sept. 10, saw a 19% rise in ratings from last year's race along with a 17% rise in viewership, according to the Nielsen Company. The telecast earned a 3.7 rating, up from a 3.1 for last year's race that also aired on ABC, and averaged 6,167,000 viewers (ESPN).

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Posted on: September 12, 2011 11:32 am

Video of the Day: Ambrose, Vickers crash

Posted by Pete Pistone

Marcos Ambrose was involved in an incident with Team Red Bull teammates Kasey Kahne and Brian Vickers Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway which as expected led to some high emotion in the aftermath:

Posted on: September 12, 2011 11:27 am

Around the Circuit: weekend web wrap

Posted by Pete Pistone

News, notes, observations and reaction from around the World Wide Web to the weekend's racing at Richmond International Raceway: 







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Posted on: September 11, 2011 10:22 am

Kevin Harvick, team post Richmond comments

Posted by Pete Pistone

THE MODERATOR:  Our winning team in tonight's 54th Annual Wonderful Pistachios 400 is Kevin Harvick.  He drives the No. 29 Chevrolet for Richard Childress.  He's joined by Richard Childress and also Gil Martin, crew chief.  This is Kevin's fourth win of the year.  He comes in with 2012 points now in the Chase, which points-wise is tied with Kyle Busch.  He's seeded second based on the tiebreaker.           

But Kevin, talk about your win here tonight and getting that extra bonus win I'm sure was very, very pleasing to you.           

KEVIN HARVICK:  Absolutely.  Everybody did a great job, and the guys on pit road had just a great last pit stop and were able to get us the track position.  I struggled on the restarts getting going with the races that we had, so to be in control of that last restart I felt like that was pretty important to get going.  Our car was really good all night on the restarts, and that last run there we were actually too tight and Carl was actually a little bit better, and then with about three or four laps to go, I just locked it on the bottom and hoped for the best there, so it all worked out.           

THE MODERATOR:  Richard, talk about this win tonight.           

RICHARD CHILDRESS:  It was great.  Like Kevin said, the pit crew come alive when we needed them, and the momentum, you start building into the Chase and get those extra points to put us right up there.  Last year that was one thing we were short in the Chase was some wins, and now we're right up there with them.  So it's up to us to keep it up.           

I couldn't be prouder of Gil Martin and his guys, and Kevin.  We've had a few tough races and that's what championship teams are built of.  When you do have a tough day you've got to go back and work on finding out what was wrong and get it fixed, so I couldn't be prouder of them and proud of this Chevy to win tonight.  It was a big win tonight for all of us.           

THE MODERATOR:  Gil Martin, crew chief.  Talk about how this team really has performed very, very well all season.  Certainly has got to be a team to contend with for the championship.           

GIL MARTIN:  It really has.  We started off the season really well.  We had good consistency, good runs, and we were able to put together good runs all day long.  But during the middle of the summer, to be quite frank, we've run like crap.  We got off our game trying to do some things to just win races because I think after we won the three races and kind of thought we were locked into the Chase, we kind of got off our game some trying some things that probably we shouldn't have.  I think that taught us a valuable lesson through the summer and going into Atlanta we had a huge team meeting on a Sunday after Bristol because we had such a horrendous Bristol race for the whole company, and I think that we had a great meeting and the whole company came together, and we've learned a lot about ourselves, I think, in the last month.           

But to go to Atlanta and run like we did and come in tonight and winning the race on pit road basically, but Kevin did a great job on the track, but it's been a solid two races for us.            

Q.  Kevin, what's more important, being able to match Kyle Busch as far as the points go, or just the momentum that you're going to take from this win into the Chase?           

KEVIN HARVICK:  Well, I think last year we felt like, as Richard said earlier, felt like we were a little behind on the win total, so to be even on the bonus points and the win total is a good accomplishment for us.  I think the momentum is just as important.  Obviously, like Gil said, the Sunday morning meeting wasn't pretty.  Most of the meetings haven't been pretty the last month or so, but we went back and found a lot of things that we felt like we had done a little bit different.  We went back and looked at the races that we felt like we were the fastest at the beginning of the year and we put that stuff in at Atlanta and we ran in the top 5 all day and come here and did the things we traditionally do and had a solid weekend from the time the car unloaded off the lift gate.  It's been stressful the last month, but I think as you see the last two weeks it's paid off.            

Q.  You guys seemed to be in this cycle that you couldn't snap out of and Bristol was so bad all around.  What was said that just snapped it that way and sent you back in the right direction?           

GIL MARTIN:  He's always smiles at the racetrack.  A Sunday morning meeting, it'll snap you out of a lot of things.  You can jump over Godzilla after you have a meeting with him.  It was a pretty inspirational meeting for everybody no kidding because I think we went to all of our people and our people stepped up and they started saying, hey, these are some things that we've changed.  Even though they're very subtle we've changed them.  I think all the managers plus all the people in the shop just got together and decided that we had to put everybody's feelings aside and just do what was best for the company, and that's what we've done.  The last couple of weeks I don't think our company has worked any closer together than -- I've been there for ten years, and for the last two or three weeks, this company has worked closer together with everybody and each individual team than we ever have.            

Q.  Gil, certainly there's been a lot of talk about how strategy has played a big role in some of these races with track position being critical, with the tires not falling off.  How much more pressure is on your shoulders going into this Chase?  How do you approach it?  What kind of challenges are out there for you the next ten weeks.         

GIL MARTIN:  I think a tremendous amount is going to be on us just because of the simple fact of throughout the summer we've been able to do some, I would say, off-the-wall things during the race because the consequences weren't so bad.  But now when you make a decision on pit road, if a caution comes out like it did tonight or if you try to pit early on the field and it goes bad for you, it's going to be a lot worse because now that you're in the Chase you can't afford to have one of those decisions go bad and finish 14th or 20th trying to gamble to win.  I think you're going to see some of the guys in the Chase not be so strung out on trying to make a decision that's going to just win the race because it's going to be too much on the line.

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Posted on: September 11, 2011 2:04 am
Edited on: September 11, 2011 9:36 am

Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch feud boils over

By Pete Pistone

The rivalry between Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch boiled over Saturday night in Richmond with a pair of on track incidents and another war of words after the checkered flag flew. 

Busch began the fireworks when he slid into Johnson as the pair raced through turns three and four on lap 186. 

Johnson’s car slid into the outside wall and was heavily damaged, sending the five-time champion to the garage area for repairs. 

When he returned to the track several laps down he eventually hunted down Busch and turned him around racing out of turn one on lap 246 to settle the score. 

While Busch was able to recover and finish fifth, Johnson was left with a 31st finishing position and much anger toward the driver of the Penske Racing Dodge. 

“He has no one to be upset with except himself. If he didn’t run me over going into turn one, nothing would have happened,” Johnson said. 

“We were at Atlanta and raced just fine with one another, passed each other on the track and everything was great and I had passed him a couple of times tonight without any issues and then we go into Turn 1 and I get run over and it damages my car. So at that point, I’m going to equal the scale out and settle the score. Simple stuff: You wreck me, I wreck you.” 

Despite the two making contact on track at Pocono last month and then exchanging heated words afterward, Johnson thought things had calmed down between the duo. 

“I’ve worked very hard to not have any contact with him,” Johnson said. “And even the Pocono thing; I made a move to break draft. I didn’t touch his car; he instigated and ran over the side of me. So if he can stop running into my Lowe’s Chevrolet, everything would be just fine.” 

Busch gave his view of the situation after he climbed from his racecar Saturday night. 

“When he came back to us, you could see it coming,” Busch said. “That’s not something you see from Jimmie Johnson every day so I know we’re in his head. If we’re going to race this way, he’s got to worry that there’s ten other guys in this Chase, not just the 22.” 

But Busch’s anger raged further as the night went on when he first confronted a reporter asking about the incident on pit road and later lashed out again in the media center during his post race interview. 

“He’s got to learn to race,” Busch said angrily, denying he said anything about getting inside Johnson’s head and then tearing the post-race transcripts with those quotes in half when they were given to him by another reporter. “He’s been able to beat guys the last five years just by outdriving them with what he has for equipment. If he wants to switch equipment, lets see what we can do but I’m going to beat him fair and square with my Penske Dodge.” 

Johnson said he’d be willing to discuss the matter with Busch but was not confident about the outcome.

“I’m sure he’s going to have plenty of fine words to say to me when I do see him – he spun me and I had to turn him back around, that’s just how it goes,” Johnson said. “He’s always going to run his mouth.   

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Posted on: September 11, 2011 1:15 am
Edited on: September 11, 2011 9:39 am

Speed Read: Richmond

By Pete Pistone


Wonderful Pistachios 400 Recap 

For the fourth time in the last five years the final Sprint Cup Series race of the regular season failed to change the lineup for the Chase. 

But after watching Saturday night’s Wonderful Pistachios 400 at Richmond International Raceway, so what? 

Even though there was no underdog story of a driver overcoming a deficit to race his way into this year’s NASCAR playoff season, Saturday night’s race was one of the best of 2011. 

It was full of hard racing, high emotion, hard feelings, wrecked racecars and playoff drama. In short it was exactly what NASCAR had hoped for to set the stage for the ten race championship season.

Nine drivers had already punched their Chase tickets coming into the race leaving three positions up for grabs. The three who eventually survived the night’s craziness – Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Denny Hamlin – didn’t have an easy time of it by any means.

Stewart, who entered the weekend in the tenth and final transfer spot in the point standings, actually had the easiest time of it with a relatively calm night and the Top 10 finish he was after, turning around his recent Richmond doldrums.

“We still weren’t as good as we wanted to be, but, we definitely made gains on it from the last three races that we’ve been here,” said Stewart.

Things were a bit more complicated for Earnhardt and Hamlin, who were both involved in a lap eight accident that swept up thirteen cars before it was over. 

Hamlin’s car suffered damage that hurt his handling but a gallant effort by crew chief Mike Ford and the Fed Ex Toyota team kept the No. 11 car in the hunt and eventually led to a ninth place finish. 

“That was not what I planned on happening,” Hamlin said. “My car is just in shambles. It is in bad, bad shape.” 

Earnhardt’s car was also in a shambles as was probably the case with crew chief Steve Letarte’s nerves. The sport’s most popular driver appeared in serious danger of falling out of Chase contention after the accident and a variety of other maladies struck the Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

But after a multitude of pit stops and adjustments, Earnhardt limped home 16th, good enough to earn his way into the playoffs. 

“We just kept working and trying to fix the car. It was tore up pretty bad in the front,” Earnhardt said. “We just worked hard the rest of the night.” 

NASCAR will have to work hard for the ten races of the championship season to match what took place Saturday night in Richmond. 



Dale Earnhardt Jr.  

Somehow survived 16 trips to pit road, an early race accident and about three Lucky Dogs to find his way into the Chase. Earnhardt was swept up in the multi-car accident that broke out on lap eight and suffered pretty severe front end damage on his Chevrolet. But with cheerleader crew chief Steve Letarte rooting him on, Earnhardt and company made it to the finish to hang on to the tenth and final transfer spot in the standings. 

Tony Stewart   

The driver that came into the night in that precarious tenth transfer position had a relatively quiet night and a seventh place finish was more than enough to punch his ticket to the Chase. Stewart insisted he didn’t feel any pressure coming into the Richmond weekend and turned in the cool, calm and collected performance he desperately needed. 

Denny Hamlin   

Didn’t write the storybook regular season ending of winning the regular season finale on his home track, but Hamlin got the Top 10 finish he needed and made the Chase as the second wild card. Like Earnhardt he was involved in the early lap melee but he and crew chief Mike Ford persevered to earn another shot at running for the championship.



Paul Menard  

Was on a “Win and In” plan with a trip to victory lane locking down the second wild card spot. But Menard was not competitive at all Saturday night and was involved in a pair of accidents that doomed him to a 34th place finish. 

Joey Logano  

Had no chance at making the Chase but was trying to keep his solid second half in gear with a good night. Those went up in smoke with yet another Joe Gibbs Racing engine failure, which had to send shivers up the spines of teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin as they prepare for a title assault. 

Jimmie Johnson  

His feud with Kurt Busch reached a boiling point with the duo involved in a pair of incidents, the last one sending Johnson to a 31st place finish. While Johnson had nothing on the line Saturday night, his rivalry with Busch now looms large in his quest for a sixth straight championship. Paybacks hurt much more when they’re delivered during the Chase.



(Choice comments and communications from drivers and crew chiefs)

"I am sure I'll go find him and talk to him and he'll run his mouth." – Jimmie Johnson after his altercations with Kurt Busch 

"Jimmie is too smart to mess with him during the Chase. Now is Kurt smart enough? I don't know." – Rick Hendrick 

"I can't think of the big picture because I really can't see it." – Dale Earnhardt Jr. after he fell out of the Top 20 

"I thought it was interesting when I saw a Childress car sitting in the grass.'' – Jeff Gordon on Paul Menard’s late spin with teammate Kevin Harvick needing to pit



On a scale of one to five "Pistone Pistons" I’ll give Saturday night’s Wonderful Pistachios 400 a five. Not sure how much better a NASCAR race can get than what we saw Saturday night in Richmond. There was drama, high emotion, close racing, paybacks, retribution and championship ramifications all rolled into 400-laps on what might be the best track on the circuit. Richmond has solidified itself as the perfect place to wind up the regular season and cement the Chase field. Even though the twelve that came into Saturday night are the same dozen that will battle for the title, it was sure entertaining to watch their fates unfold.



For the first time in history the Chase kicks off in the Windy City with next Sunday afternoon’s Geico 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. In recent years the 1.5-mile oval outside of downtown Chicago has provided better racing as the track surface has weathered and a second groove came into play. But what will it be like now under a September afternoon sky rather than the mid-July night racing the track has hosted in recent years? And there will be as much attention paid to the grandstands as well as on the race track as the Joliet facility tries to draw a sizeable crowd smack dab in the middle of the NFL season and with a PGA Tour national event being held just down the road at Cog Hill Country Club. The opening weekend of NASCAR Playoffs 2011 is going to be very interesting indeed.

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Posted on: September 11, 2011 1:07 am
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Posted on: September 9, 2011 6:48 pm

Reutimann races to Richmond pole

By Pete Pistone

David Reutimann topped Friday's qualifying session to set the field for the Wonderful Pistachios 400 at Richmond International Raceway.

The Michael Waltrip Racing driver will start Saturday night's final Sprint Cup Series regular season race from the number one position flanked by Earnhardt Ganassi Racing's Jamie McMurray.

Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin and Clint Bowyer rounded out the Top 5.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., who sits ninth in the series point standings, will start 27th while tenth place in points Tony Stewart takes the green flag from the 22nd spot.

Saturday night's Wonderful Pistachios 400 will begin at 7:45 p.m. ET.


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