Richmond might help jump-start the season

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RICHMOND, Va. — Two weeks of ho-hum racing has left NASCAR fans starving for some on-track excitement, so tonight’s stop at Richmond International Speedway couldn’t have come at a better time.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (right) chats with his crew chief Steve Letarte (left) during practice for tonight's race at Richmond International Raceway. Friday, April 27, 2012, in Richmond, Va.  NIGEL KINRADE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
NIGEL KINRADE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (right) chats with his crew chief Steve Letarte (left) during practice for tonight's race at Richmond International Raceway. Friday, April 27, 2012, in Richmond, Va.

Short track racing traditionally produces some of NASCAR’s best racing, and the .75-mile oval at Richmond is the perfect venue for the bumping and banging that spices up the show. And there’s been a shortage of that of late.

The past two races, at Texas and Kansas, had a combined five cautions and four of them were for debris. It makes for long green-flag runs and spread-out fields, with a caution being the only hope for bunching the cars back together. Drivers seem to prefer that clean style of racing, but fans want more drama – some might even suggest they want wrecks – and they’ve been vocal the past month about their disappointment.

NASCAR’s top drivers are aware of the dilemma, and go into tonight’s race wondering whether Richmond will satisfy the fans.

“I will not go down that path, I do not think it’s right to say we need wrecks. That’s just a messed-up thing to say,” Carl Edwards said Friday. “I think we need good racing, and I think if you’ve got guys who are able to race together, and are able to come through the field because their car is better and they can actually pass people, then you are going to get some excitement.

“And the excitement might come in the form of wrecks. A place like Richmond ... this place always seems to be a place where a guy can make something happen. And that’s good.”

Edwards, who prefers the recent slate of “pure” racing, said the competition will improve as the season progresses and he’s enjoyed the way the last few events have played out.

“Not every race has to be an exciting, dramatic, crazy bumper-to-bumper finish. If you just let them play out naturally you will get those really great moments,” he said.


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