Toyota Owners 400 winner Kyle Busch waves to the crowd at Richmond Raceway, where officials are trying to bring back the excitement that characterized past events at the track.
While the economy rebounded in the decade since, NASCAR’s ticket sales have not — even at Richmond’s three-quarter-mile oval, widely hailed as having hosted some of the most exciting competition on the circuit.
In July, they changed the track’s name, dropping “International” to send a message via the rebranded Richmond Raceway of pride in the venue’s legacy and its long-standing roots in the state.
It’s the product of a naming-rights deal with Virginia-based Climax Spirits, the brainchild of Tim Smith of Discovery Channel’s “Moonshiners.” Its chief appeal to the 21-and-older crowd, along with the opportunity to buy alcohol, was to watch the action from bar stools at a bargain price of $25 a ticket.
For the roughly 40,000 who showed up, the value of the experience boiled down to the short-track racing itself, which might have been a bit tame for fans’ taste — at least until a flurry of cautions over the final 47 laps set tempers flaring and shifted the focus to speedy pit work, which proved pivotal to Busch’s overtime victory over Chase Elliott by a 0.511-second margin.
Joey Logano, winless since this event last April, won Saturday’s first two stages in his Ford, collecting bonus points for leading at the 100- and 200-lap marks.
Just 47 laps remained when the first caution flew for contact, brought out when Dave Blaney rounded Turn 4 in a blur and tangled with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Cole Whitt in the process, as onrushing cars darted high and low to avoid a pileup.
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