It doesn’t matter how it happens, when it happens, or who causes it, but it always seems NASCAR’s final regular season event always has some drama, and controversy.
That’s to be expected when NASCAR comes to Richmond in the first place. A short track constantly brings out emotion, and that emotion often boils over. Add in the fact that a spot, or three, in the championship was on the line, and the drama was pushed to a level that meant teams would go all out in order to show they deserve to be a title contender.
A race that began at just after 7:30 p.m. went deep into the night, ending four hours later. There were battles, wrecks, and arguments.
In the end, a home town boy was seeing the checkered flag wave, even if it came beyond the scheduled distance. Denny Hamlin has always seemed to find success in Virginia, and when it came to Richmond, his time had come once again. The checkered flag waved, and the No. 11 had a special delivery in victory lane.
That win gave two writers one final victory in the regular season, improving their status for the upcoming Chase. When the points for the regular season came to a conclusion, one of the veterans of the league could say that before things go into a change, he was the one everyone was looking up at.
The California native, who this year got engaged, is celebrating now. Sal Sigala Jr. can say he was the best through 26 races. The question is, can he be that leader at the end of the final 10?
What the Chase means is that points are evened out, and for the first round all those wins mean bonus points. For one writer, that means a jump to the top. With nearly one-third of the regular season resulting in victories, that is a significant amount of points to have earned. Now, the question becomes who can make those wins count when a title is at stake.
Here is a look at the restructured Challenger Round following the Federated Auto Parts 400:
Ashley Hull (2024) Kyle Busch finished 9th – 8 
Rob Blount (2012) Kyle Busch finished 9th – 4 
Misan Akuya (2012) Denny Hamlin WON – 4 
Patti Rodisch (2009) Kevin Harvick finished 5th – 3 
Billy Fellin (2009) Denny Hamlin WON – 3 
Mary Jo Buchanan (2009) Joey Logano finished 10th – 3 
Sal Sigala Jr. (2006) Kevin Harvick finished 5th – 2 
Ashley McCubbin (2006) Kevin Harvick finished 5th – 2 
Rob Tiongson (2006) Carl Edwards finished 32nd – 2 
Ashley Hobbs (2006) Kevin Harvick finished 5th – 2 
Dustin Parks (2003) Carl Edwards finished 32nd – 1 
Klarissa Mitchell (2003) Jamie McMurray finished 7th – 1 
Next Race: The championship battle begins now. It comes down to 10 races, four rounds, and three eliminations. In the end, only one will be victorious. But in order to win a championship, one must win a race to ensure they are going into the next round, and take that next step to win that title.
The Chase is here, and it begins next Sunday in Chicagoland, as it has for many years.
Writers, things have changed in how you do your picks, and it means a new season, and new rules. Check your emails, because the rules will be showcased. But don’t forget, those picks are due by Thursday, September 15, at 10 p.m. ET for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400.