Richmond sets the stage for short track showdown on the track and off...
RICHMOND, Va. – NASCAR to returned to its short track roots this weekend.
And the Toyota Owners 400 delivered an ideal Saturday night showdown under the lights at Richmond International Raceway.
When the smoke cleared, Joey Logano celebrated by burning the rubber off the tires of the No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, but it was the tempers still flaring among the competitors that stole the spotlight.
While Matt Kenseth tried desperately to hold off Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski in the closing laps, Logano powered around the row and took the lead with three laps remaining in the race. Gordon, Kyle Busch, Keselowski and Kenseth rounded out the top five.
After being bounced around like a pinball, Keselowski showed his displeasure to Kenseth after the race.
“Yeah it was a wild finish,” Keselowski said. “It just came down to really a four way battle between the 2, the 20, the 24 and 22 and we had a great car for the short runs and we got up there challenging for the lead…We just got ran off the race track but that is racing and we will move on.”
Kenseth, who remains second in the point standings, just dismissed the contact as simply short track racing.
“He was mad because I ran into him a little bit getting into (turn) three, but we were going for the win,” Kenseth said. “I ran him up to the to the third groove or so, but I’ve witnessed him racin that way a lot like I think he did to Jimmie (Johnson) at Texas a few years ago.
“I thought once we got to the straightaway I left him enough room unless I wasn’t clear. I need to re-watch it. I guess he’s upset about that and we were all going for the win. That’s what we’re supposed to be doing.”
But it was the post-race boxing match between the 18th and 19th-place finishers – Marcos Ambrose and Casey Mears, respectively, which caught the attention of the sanctioning body. What started as a pushing match escalated when Ambrose landed a right hook on Mears.
NASCAR official reviewed the tape following the altercation.
“We were looking at the video in there,” said NASCAR vice president Robin Pemberton. “There doesn’t seem to be much. But we’ll take our time Monday and Tuesday and look at it some more.
“We haven’t called anybody yet. We don’t think it was anything too severe. We’ll get all the footage that we can and look at it and see what happens from there.”
The fireworks began on the first lap as the leaders raced into Turn 1 and Clint Bowyer sent polesitter Kyle Larson spinning into the wall. While Larson recovered and finished 16th, Bowyer cooked his brakes after completing 159 laps before leaving the pits, a fire ignited in the right front of his car and sidelined the No. 15 for good. Bowyer finished 43rd on Saturday, his worst finish at Richmond.
Cole Whitt and Reed Sorenson also experienced fires during the race. Sorenson’s blaze continued around the track and onto pit road. He retired in 42nd, while Whitt was 41st in his debut with BK Racing.