What Happened to Richmond (or Is It NASCAR)

What Happened to Richmond (or Is It NASCAR)

Monday, 01 May 2017
Dennis Michelsen

What Happened to Richmond (or Is It NASCAR)

Couch Potato Corner- Richmond

When I hear the NASCAR announcers talking about “Clean Air” and “Great Racing in the Pack” at a speedway I have no issue with that because in today’s NASCAR this is what we have come to expect. But when these phrases are used at a short track in NASCAR there is something seriously wrong with your aerodynamic and engine packages. It isn’t rocket science folks just a few years ago it was tough to get tickets to Richmond because the racing was insanely great every time. Unlike Bristol where they built enough seats to house the entire state of Tennessee, Richmond Raceway only seats a little over 70,000 and there were plenty of seats available for this race weekend. The race almost featured more commitment cone violations heading to pit road than green flag passes for the lead on the track! What happened to Richmond?


Cup Race Grade: D+

This was a weird race from the start. Richmond used to be famous for epic battles for the lead but Matt Kenseth who had not led a single lap in the entire season led the first 164 laps and did so comfortably. Yes the racing was great for 2nd through 22nd place but has any fan in the history of the sport ever said, “Man, I gotta get me some tickets to that Richmond place they have the best racing back in the pack in NASCAR!” Clean air should not be such a big factor at a short track ever! There was some decent racing late in the day that saved this race from being a complete waste of time but if this is the best Richmond can offer they might need upside down clowns to sell tickets in the future.

Xfinity Race Grade: D

The old Busch Series races at a track like Richmond used to be epic battles between the Cup guys invading the series and the Busch regulars. Now it seems the battles on the track among the Xfinity Series regulars are for the bonus checks that the Cup regulars are not eligible to win. How can NASCAR develop the next set of stars in this sport if they are racing for 5th place all day? The races in NASCAR’s “Second Series” used to be a great appetizer for the big show on Sunday but lately they have been a waste of two hours.

Gripe of the Week

The hatred spewed out at Dale Earnhardt Jr by some on social media was disappointing to see but sadly not unexpected. Dale Earnhardt Jr was not as great as his famous Daddy but I have news for you haters neither was Jeff Gordon and many others who won Cup titles in this sport. You might have hated his Daddy but Dale Jr was his own man. Maybe you hated Dale Jr because he had an automatic career based on his famous last name but that is pretty pathetic too. Only 28 drivers won more Cup races than Dale Earnhardt Jr in their careers. Only 10 other drivers in NASCAR history won more than one Daytona 500. Dale Earnhardt Jr should be graded on three things. His own career without being compared to his Dad. His impact on the sport we all love. How he treats people. Dale Earnhardt Jr grades out well on the first one and gets an A+ on the last two.

This week on “Extry Slice” Lori Munro and I discussed the replacement for Dale Jr and what that might mean about NASCAR today.


Checkered Flag

It’s good news for NASCAR that after that lackluster weekend of racing that they head to Talladega next. The racing is sure to be crazy all weekend long and hopefully the racing for the lead will be as epic as the racing “Back in the Pack.” Then again if Dale Earnhardt Jr wins we will get to hear all about how NASCAR rigged the race with the magical restrictor plate to get him the win!

Sound Off

What did you think about the race weekend? Give us your grades and the reasons why you thought that and the best comments might be used on “The Final Inspection” on 105.7FM The Fan in Milwaukee on Saturday at Noon CT. Steve Zautke hosts the most entertaining two hours covering all things racing and Lori Munro and Dennis Michelsen will have your NASCAR news and views every week.



  1. Robin Cox says:

    D+ for the Monster race, uhh, I think that is low once kenseth lost the handle. I would have rated it a B, due to the fact that Kesolowski was slow on new tires and made it interesting once his car came in. If not for being behind a slower car that stayed out, it would have got very interesting at the end between Lagono and Keslowski. In the second and third stages, racing for the lead was pretty good, until Kes took over. I would say overall it was a good race. I would agree for the D grade for the X-race. I think it would have been more exciting if the top tear cup drivers had been in the race, but I can understand Nascar wanting to let the X drivers do more on their own, other than learning from the cup drivers.

    • Dennis Michelsen says:

      Kenseth lost the lead and the clean air. There were 4 green flag passes of the lead except for the few laps of a restart (8 total) versus 6 commitment cone violations. This would have been a B- for a speedway but can’t we see more of a battle for the lead at a short track? Thanks for adding your 2 cents to the discussion. DMIC

  2. Ken says:

    I’ve always been a fan of short track racing and I think your grade is accurate. It breaks my heart to see how NASCAR has turned short tracks into mini-versions of large tracks with lack of excitement and boring follow the leader racing. The lack of entertaining racing was once blamed on points racing. However, the current stage racing format makes points racing even more important. Who cares who wins a stage because the only thing that matters is who wins the race and not who gets the most points for the race. What driver is going to take a big chance during the race when a minor accident could knock them out of the race because of the rules and mess up their points day?

    If I were in charge of NASCAR, I would make this aero nonsense less important. I would simplify the rules. I would require that a baseball or softball fit under the vehicle. I would give rules on the width, height, length and weight and allow anything within those rules that fit a simple template. The rules as they are now has stymied innovation.

    • Dennis Michelsen says:

      This was a tough race to grade…if this was a 1.5 mile speedway I might have graded it higher but I was disappointed since this is SUPPOSED to be a short track. (I am worried I am turning into one of those old guys screaming, “Get off my lawn” though because I am whining so much) DMIC

  3. Mark Floth says:

    D- at best…I was a die hard Nascar Fan years ago. I wouldnt even dream of missing a race back then. Now it is all about money and rules,rules,rules. Gone are the days of race on sunday buy on monday..Nascar is a big rule filled bore. Good bye good ole boys and hello rich spoiled kids playing with toys with their friends

  4. Sander R.Taylor says:

    D- for the Cup race. Richmond is such a little Las Vegas. Clean air is king, and I’m boring of that kind of racing.
    Cars are horribly ugly. Too many rules. Races decided by pit penalties. Track racing is too “politically correct”. No rivalries. No differences between makes. It’s a whole wrong thing with no conection with the things who makes this sport big and widely loved.
    Sorry for my poor writing. Best regards from Tigre, Argentina

    • Dennis Michelsen says:

      Sander…you typed better English than I do!! Thanks for adding to the discussion from Argentina!!

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