RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A jam-packed schedule is set for Richmond Raceway, but while the docket may be full, the seats will not be. While cars and campers would be filling the parking lots surrounding the venue during a normal NASCAR event, the only traffic will be on the track itself.
The Toyota Care 250 kicked off the schedule on Thursday night, the first time the Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series has hit the Action Track since 2005. It was a bizarre feel at the start with empty grandstands, no foot traffic in the walk-ways, and gates clear of crowds prior to the green flag dropping.
When the checkered flag waved, Grant Enfinger was the first to cross the line. It marked the 98 truck’s third win of 2020. Todd Gilliland and Tyler Ankrum grabbed the final two playoff spots. The circuit’s postseason gets underway next Thursday at Bristol.
As for holding this week’s races in an empty facility, the track said it came to that decision after careful consideration and working closely with public health officials, medical experts and state and local officials. Policies on permitting fans have varied from track to track, based on state and local guidelines. Next weekend’s Cup race at Bristol will be in front of approximately 30,000 people.
With or without fans, all three NASCAR series push forward. The Xfinity drivers are next up, taking the track at 7:00 on Friday night, then again on Saturday afternoon at 2:30 in the first leg of a double-header. Austin Cindric enters the weekend as the points standings leader, while Chase Briscoe’s six wins lead the circuit.
The weekend will culminate with the Cup race on Saturday night at 7:30. Martin Truex Jr. looks to make it three straight trips to Victory Lane at Richmond, after sweeping both events in 2019. He has one win this season, but has 11 top five finishes, and led a race-high 196 laps last weekend at Darlington before crashing with 14 laps remaining. With some momentum and a good showing on short tracks, Truex thinks that Richmond falls at the perfect time on the schedule.
“I think we’ve had a lot of momentum, we’ve had a lot of strong runs and been really close to winning a lot here lately,” Truex told NBC12 on Thursday. “It’s a good time of the year to be in that position, but you also want to be closing the deal on winning races, so I think it comes at a perfect time for us.”
Truex is currently sixth in the Cup standings. Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin remain in the top two spots after last week’s playoff opener.
Also on the NASCAR front, Bubba Wallace announced on Thursday that he will be leaving Richard Petty Motorsports at the conclusion of the 2020 season. Wallace called the decision difficult, but said he feels “it’s time for someone else to take over the reins of the No. 43.” In three full Cup seasons, Wallace has yet to win a race, but has a career-best five top 10 finishes this year.
NBC12′s coverage of NASCAR at Richmond Raceway continues Friday on-air and online.
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