Kahne joins the club, wins at Richmond

Saturday, May 14, 2005 – A runner-up six times in his NASCAR premier series career, Kasey Kahne finally broke through to score his first victory, capturing the Chevy American Revolution 400 at Richmond International Raceway. For Kahne, who was driving the No. 9 Dodge for team owner Ray Evernham, career win No. 1 came in his 47th start in the series.

Kahne led a race high 242 of the 400-lap race, including the final 106.

To secure the win, Kahne had to hold off a hard-charging Tony Stewart; Ryan Newman, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick completed the top five.

Kahne became the 167th driver to win at NASCAR’s top level.

The victory was the first for the Dodge Charger, which replaced the Dodge Intrepid (2001-04).

Track officials announced a 27th consecutive sellout, continuing a streak that began in 1992.

Stewart wins on record-setting night/day

Sunday, May 5, 2002 – It was a race that featured several notable items so perhaps it makes sense that it took two days to complete the Pontiac Excitement 400 at Richmond International Raceway. Rain, which delayed the previous day’s scheduled start of the race by two hours, eventually returned after less than 70 laps had been completed and forced officials to postpone the completion of the event until the following day.

Tony Stewart won the race, for the second consecutive year, but had to come from the rear of the field to score the victory after a pre-race engine change negated his third-place qualifying run. Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Bobby Labonte, eighth in qualifying, also went to the back for a similar issue. And when Johnny Benson suffered a broken rib in Friday night’s Hardee’s 250 Busch race, Joe Nemechek took over the ride, and a third Pontiac was sent to the rear before the Cup race ever got under way.

It was Stewart’s third win at Richmond, site of his first career victory in the series in 1999.

By starting the event, Ricky Rudd tied Terry Labonte for most consecutive starts in the Cup series at 655.

A new sealer put down on the track led to less than ideal racing conditions and as a result, there were a track record 103 laps run under caution and the 14 caution flags tied the track record.

The race was the final Cup start for local favorite Rick Mast in the Junie Donlavey-owned No. 90 Ford. Mast, diagnosed with chronic and acute carbon monoxide poisoning, announced his retirement from competition in January, 2003.

Nadeau critically injured in Richmond crash

Friday, May 2, 2003 – NASCAR premier series driver Jerry Nadeau, a one-time race winner, was critically injured in a crash during practice for the Pontiac Excitement 400 at Richmond International Raceway. The 32-year-old had to be cut from his Pontiac race car after it slammed into the outside wall in Turn 2. He was airlifted to the Medical College of Virginia.

Nadeau, who had qualified 12th for the upcoming race prior to the crash, spun his No. 01 MBV Motorsports entry and the car struck the outside wall on the driver’s side.

The Danbury, Conn., native sustained head, lung and rib injuries as a result of the crash, injuries that ended his driving career. He was wearing a head and neck restraining device, made mandatory following the 2001 death of seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt.

Nadeau made 177 starts from 1997-03. His lone career win came in the season-ending 2000 NAPA 500 while driving for Hendrick Motorsports. He also earned nine top-five and 19 top-10 finishes.

In addition to his Cup effort, Nadeau also made eight starts in the Xfinity Series and one in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series.

Running the numbers after Richmond

Where to begin? Another win by a Joe Gibbs Racing team?

That’s six in the season’s first nine races as Martin Truex Jr. joins teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin in the win column.

Maybe as NASCAR’s Monster Energy Cup Series heads into its first break, the story isn’t how good JGR has been out of the gate but how others have struggled.

Chevrolet teams are now 0-for-9 and that will continue to be an issue. Saturday’s Toyota Owners 400 marked the first time all season that a Chevrolet driver failed to lead at least one lap. The last time that happened was last fall’s stop at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway).

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch has been the most consistent of Chevy drivers, finishing inside the top 10 on six occasions.

Ford has a stellar lineup but thus far only Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano have struck pay dirt, winning the three races that JGR somehow overlooked.

Stewart-Haas Racing hasn’t been invisible – Kevin Harvick is fourth in points, Clint Bowyer seemed in contention for wins at Bristol and Richmond while Aric Almirola and Daniel Suarez are 11th and 12th in points, respectively. But there’s nothing in the win column yet.

Saturday’s win was No. 20 for Truex, tying him with Speedy Thompson for 41st overall on the NASCAR Cup win list. Thompson’s last victory came at Richmond in 1960.

There are more Richmond tie-ins: Jeremy Mayfield, Carl Edwards and now Truex all won at Richmond with the No. 19. The first of Mayfield’s two victories in the No. 19 (for Evernham Motorsports) came at Richmond in ’04; it was the final race of the “regular” season and catapulted the driver into that year’s Chase.

Truex is the fourth different driver to win a Cup race using the No. 19. The others were John Rostek (Arizona State Fairgrounds in 1960), Mayfield and Edwards.

He is the 10th driver to win a Cup race with JGR, joining Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart, Hamlin, Bobby Labonte, Dale Jarrett, Erik Jones, Matt Kenseth, Logano and Edwards.

Besides being the sixth Cup win for Toyota this year, it was win No. 130 for the automaker since it began fielding Cup teams in ’07. Overall, Toyota now has a combined 468 wins in Cup, Xfinity (154) and the Gander Outdoors Truck Series (184).

Kyle Busch picked up his fifth stage win of ’19 at Richmond and the 25th of his career; Logano won a stage for the fourth time this season. Neither total includes final stage (race) wins. Combined with bonus points for race wins, Busch has already earned 20 playoff points.

On Friday, Harvick ended the run of eight different pole winners to start the season. The SHR driver also started out front at Las Vegas.

Got me to wondering who might be in the midst of longest dry spell when it comes to poles. First thought was Ryan Newman, who won poles frequently earlier in his career and has 51 to his credit.

Now competing for Roush Fenway Racing, Newman’s last pole came in 2013.

That’s not the longest among active drivers though.

Clint Bowyer’s last pole came in 2007. It’s one of two for the SHR racer, it came at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Bowyer went on to win the race.

Noted in the points standings after nine races: The top two in points are unchanged from this time last season – Kyle Busch and Joey Logano. Fourth and fifth are the same as well – Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski. So four of the top five are 2018 all over again. What are the odds of that being the case?

Likewise for Aric Almirola (11th) and Austin Dillon (14th).

Several others in the top 16 are within a position or two of their points position a year ago – Truex and Kurt Busch and Ryan Blaney.

An Xfinity note: Tyler Reddick won the Xfinity championship last year with JR Motorsports and while he hasn’t won a race yet since switching to Richard Childress Racing, Reddick is your points leader through eight races. Says something about the driver and the team.

Christopher Bell (2), Cole Custer (2) and Michael Annett are your series regulars in victory lane so far and they’re second, third and seventh in points.

And along those lines … was reminded last week that the success for Cup teams winning this year shouldn’t come as a surprise since rules packages have slowly made Cup entries more similar to their Xfinity brethren (or so we’ve been told). And which teams have been dominant in Xfinity in recent years?

NASCAR takes a break for the Easter holiday this weekend; next up will be Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway for Cup and Xfinity teams April 27-28. The Truck Series will be back on track at Dover (Del.) International Speedway May 3.


Opening-lap accident claims life of Staley

Sunday, March 23, 1958 – Gwyn Staley, 30, dies as a result of injuries sustained in a crash that occurred on the opening lap of the 200-lap convertible race held at Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway. Staley, a native of North Wilkesboro, N.C., was the younger brother of Enoch Staley, one of NASCAR’s early promotors in the Carolinas and owner of North Wilkesboro Speedway. The younger Staley’s car flipped several times after contact on the first lap, then struck the board fence surrounding the track. He was pinned under his vehicle. He was pronounced dead upon arrival at Richmond Memorial Hospital.

• Staley was third in the National Convertible points standings heading into the Richmond race. He was driving a 1957 Chevrolet owned by Julian Petty, brother of premier series driver Lee Petty. A week before his fatal crash, Staley had finished second to Curtis Turner in a 150-lap Grand National race at Champion Speedway in Fayetteville, N.C.

Enoch Staley named the spring NASCAR race at North Wilkesboro in his brother’s honor – the Gwyn Staley 400 (the Gwyn Staley 160 in ’59-60).

The Richmond race was resumed following Staley’s accident with Joe Weatherly collecting the win.