Saturday night’s 400-lap NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond Raceway was only the third race since 2002 to not have a natural caution. Three scheduled yellow flags flew at Richmond Saturday night an a large portion of NASCAR fans and at least one driver are not happy with the lack of cautions.
In recent years Richmond has put on some snoozer of races, it has become the Sochi Autodrom of the NASCAR schedule. While the racing has been good a number of fans have moaned about how awful the shows have been at NASCAR’s “action track.”
Saturday night’s race was no different.
From a lack of natural cautions to a lack of aggressive driving most fans looked at Saturday’s race as a parade. When it reality it was one of the most compelling races of the season from a strategy standpoint. With two long green flag runs to end the race (147 & 157) many fans saw their eyes glass over. With no late college football games, shoutout to the Pac-12, fans had no choice but to watch. Here’s the thing, it was a decent race but failed in one major category.
NBC was ill-prepared to cover a race that was strictly strategy and long run based. NASCAR fans have become accustomed to seeing restarts. Ooooo restarts are fun, they’re the shiny object to distract you from a bad product. Whether that bad product is the on track performance, the broadcast or both, NASCAR fans need cautions.
Saturday night highlighted the shortcomings of the broadcast. There was decent racing happening. Saturday night’s race averaged 6.7 passes per green flag lap (fall 2019 had 2.7), yet most fans think thought the race was a parade. Instead of showing battles in the midfield fans were treated to lap after lap of the leaders running by themselves.
Sometimes races go green flag to flag, it was an old school race that a lot of fans have forgotten about. We see races like this all the time in IndyCar and F1 but those broadcasts are better prepared to explain the strategy and focus on battles around the track. Rick Allen seemed lost at times Saturday night, Steve Letarte didn’t do a great job explaining what was happening and Jeff Burton was looking at Charlotte wondering where the cars were.
Fans need to manage their expectations. This is what Richmond is. It isn’t a track where you’re going to see beating and banging, it’s not a short track. It races more like an intermediate at this point and the sooner NASCAR and the fans accept that it won’t be viewed as this exciting/anticipated race.
We had 5 drivers lead over 40 laps apiece, Austin Dillon was a legitimate contender for the win on speed for the first time ever. There were positives to come out of the race. When you compare it to races 10-15 years ago at Richmond the recent races have certainly been poor.
Whether it’s the COT/Gen 6 or drivers being too nice, something changed at Richmond and the fans haven’t adapted to that.
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