[media-credit name=”Barry Albert” align=”alignright” width=”242″][/media-credit]1. Carl Edwards: Edwards finished fifth at Richmond, posting his fifth top-5 result of the year. He led 11 laps on the night, and extended his lead in the Sprint Cup point standings from 5 to 9 over Jimmie Johnson.
“My friends call me ‘Cousin Carl.’ If asked to describe their rapport with me, most of my fellow driver would say ‘no relation.’ Now, should I maintain the points lead, by year’s end I hope to have all my rivals saying ‘uncle.’
“It was a wild night in Richmond, one characterized by survival. The fans had to survive the boredom of the first half of the race, and the drivers had to survive the second half. Figuratively, all hell broke loose. Literally, judging by the language used, ‘aw hell’ broke loose. I think NASCAR introduced a new flag, a solid blue one, that signaled drivers to tone down their ‘blue’ language.”
2. Kyle Busch: Busch led 235 of 400 laps at Richmond, and stretched his last tank of gas for 107 laps to hold off Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin to win the Matthew And Daniel Hansen 400 Presented By Crown Royal, his third consecutive Richmond spring win. Busch is third in the point standings, 30 behind Carl Edwards.
“Hey, I love the Hansen brothers,” Busch said. “Maybe they’ll compose a tribute song to me and my sponsor called ‘M&M Bop!’ What’s that? They’re not the Hanson brothers? Very well. I, of all people, should know about imposters posing as brothers.
“I found it quite satisfying that amidst all the chaos around on Saturday night, I was one of the few drivers to remain calm. And one of the most profanely vocal of the foul-mouthed bunch was my brother Kurt. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: ‘On an A to Z scale, Kurt is truly ‘R’ rated.”
3. Jimmie Johnson: Johnson salvaged an eighth-place finish at Richmond, surviving an ill-performing car, as well as a run-in with Joey Logano’s No. 20 Toyota, to register his sixth top-10 of the year. Johnson is second in the point standings, nine behind Carl Edwards.
“What can you expect when the Lowes and Home Depot cars get together?” Johnson said. “Repairs, of course.
“I hear that Logano’s crew chief Greg Zippadelli called me a ‘bleeping’ moron in a radio shouting match with Chad Knaus. I’m not offended at all. In fact, let’s give Zippy credit. Apparently, there’s only one thing he can do like a champ, and that’s curse.”
4. Clint Bowyer: Bowyer, in the No. 33 BB&T Chevrolet, led 18 laps early and finished 6th at Richmond, Saturday’s top Chevrolet finisher. He moved up two spots in the point standings to 7th, 51 out of first.
“Unlike some people,” Bowyer said, “I have nothing but good things to say about my pit crew. In fact, the BB&T pit crew is so reliable, I call them ‘Money In The Bank.’ Donald Trump surely has to recognize his boundless influence creeping into NASCAR, because between Kurt Busch and Martin Truex, Jr., enough ‘F-bombs’ and ‘you’re fired’s’ were dropped to make the Donald proud. Busch and Truex sure were unhappy about mistakes made by their teams and pit crews. It seems they’ve declared a war on error.”
5. Dale Earnhardt, Jr.: Earnhardt endured a discouraging night in the Matthew And Daniel Hansen 400, finishing two laps down in 19th and ending a three-race run of top-10 results. After the race, a frustrated Earnhardt uncharacteristically left the track without talking to reporters.
“Sometimes,” Earnhardt said, “frustration gets the best of you. But I won’t let it hold me down for long. Luckily, frustration is one thing I can beat.
“My winless streak now stands at 102 races. I recall fondly, as a little boy, dreaming of one day ‘going over 100.’ Well, dreams do come true.”
6. Kevin Harvick: Harvick started 12th and finished 12th at Richmond, battling loose-handling conditions and falling a lap down to the leader late in the race. He dropped one spot in the Sprint Cup point standings to fifth, 35 behind Carl Edwards.
“12 and 12 is 24,” Harvick said. “And 24 is a case, a case of Budweiser mediocrity.”
Now, I’ve had my squabbles with Juan Montoya. Who hasn’t? It will be interesting to see where the Montoya-Ryan Newman feud goes from here. I’ve got some advice for both of them. Newman should tell Montoya, ‘If you want face me off the track, I’ll make you face me on the track, when I turn you around with my front bumper.’ To this, Montoya should simply reply, ‘Oh yeah? You and what Army?’”
7. Matt Kenseth: Kenseth was collected in a pile-up triggered by three-wide racing on a lap 301 restart, a wreck that sent Kenseth into the wall. After multiple stops to repair right-side damage, Kenseth limped home with a 21st-place finish, two laps down to the leaders.
“I’m not sure who started that wreck,” Kenseth said. “I would venture to say he was a ‘bleeping moron.’ That wreck left a lot of cars damaged. So kudos to the pit crews who worked feverishly to get those cars back on the track. They had to be the night’s hardest workers, right behind networks censors, who erased more of Kurt Busch than his cosmetic ear surgeon.”
8. Kurt Busch: Busch endured a frustrating day at Richmond, finishing 22nd, three laps down, handicapped by a bad-handling No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge. To make matters worse, the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge was later caught up in the Ryan Newman-Juan Montoya dust-up. Busch dropped one spot to sixth in the point standings, 46 behind Carl Edwards.
“My chatter on the team radio is not suitable for virgin ears,” Busch said. “You could say the audio, much like my ears, needed to be ‘doctored’ to be presentable in public. But I don’t mind people saying I lost my cool. I see it as a compliment. If I lost my cool, then that means I was cool at some point. And it’s not often I get called ‘cool.’
9. Ryan Newman: Newman was running eighth when he was sent hurtling into the wall by Juan Montoya, in retaliation for Newman’s spin of the No. 42 car earlier that damaged Montoya’s back end. Newman struggled afterwards in his damaged No. 39 Stewart-Haas Chevrolet, and finished 20th.
“Revenge will be forthcoming,” Newman said. “And it will be swift and speedy, if for no other reason than a need to justify my nickname of ‘Rocketman.’ I haven’t won a ‘pole’ in some time; soon, I hope to beat a Colombian. If you noticed after the race, Montoya took off on a golf cart instead of facing me like a man. I suppose that fiery Latino temperament, in this case, makes him a ‘spicy chicken.’ Of course, while Montoya slinked away on the ‘coward caddy,’ I headed to the NASCAR hauler to complain. As they say, ‘payback’s a snitch.’”
10. (tie) Tony Stewart: Stewart finished ninth at Richmond, the last car on the lead lap, on a chaotic Saturday night in Virginia. Stewart improved two spots in the point standings to tenth, 60 out of first.
“I was appalled by the skill displayed at Richmond,” Stewart said. “But enough about Fox’s announcers. The driving was just as bad. After the half-way point, it seemed that driver sensibilities took a dramatic turn for the worse. Thus the race became a diminution derby.
“Among the legion of idiotic drivers, none sttod out more than Juan Montoya, who blatantly wrecked Ryan Newman in retaliation for a clearly unintentional spin by Newman. Montoya is a wanted man. If driving the Target car isn’t proof enough of that, then these makeshift, Old West-themed ‘Juan-ted’ posters are. Revenge will be a team effort. Montoya should be on the lookout for both Ryan and me. We suggest Juan call us ‘Smoke And Rear-view Mirrors’ for the time being.”
Denny Hamlin: Hamlin was good all weekend, winning his own charity race and the Nationwide BUBBA burger 250 on Friday, but wasn’t quite good enough on Saturday night. Hamlin finished second to teammate Kyle Busch, and Busch credited Hamlin with some advice that helped him master Richmond’s D-shaped, .75-mile circuit.
“A year ago,” Hamlin said, “if Kyle had told me he ‘needed help,’ I would have directed him to a reputable anger management counselor.
“It was mighty nice of Kyle to conveniently run out of gas on the last lap to allow me to win my own charity race. I think he knew I needed a win, and he was more than happy to oblige. I was the charity case in the charity race.”