Sunday's Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway was one for the ages, with Carl Edwards winning by executing a classic last-lap, bump-and-run move on his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch.
It was a thrilling finish and the only time in history any driver ever made a last-lap pass to win at Richmond. Here are six takeaways from another compelling weekend of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing.
6. BIG DOGS HUNT -- A week earlier at Bristol, there were some big surprises in the top 10, including career-best finishes by Chase Elliott and Matt DiBenedetto. Not at Richmond, where the mega-teams flexed their collective muscles. The top 13 finishers Sunday included all five affiliated Toyotas -- four from JGR and one from Furniture Row Racing -- four Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets, two Penske Fords and two Stewart-Haas Racing Chevys. No underdogs up front at all this time.
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5. BALANCE OF POWER -- JGR has now won five of nine Cup races this year, including the last four in a row. But despite a JGR 1-2 finish at Richmond, five different drivers led at least 44 laps, including the Chevrolets of Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch. Yeah, the Toyotas are better right now, but not by much. And a lot can change between now and Homestead.
4. DAYTIME IS THE RIGHT TIME -- NASCAR's low-downforce aero package has been great and Goodyear has done an admirable job matching tires to the package. But it needs to be noted that racing during the daytime, when tracks are hotter and slicker than at night, is a key ingredient in producing great racing. The three daytime short-track events this spring were all fantastic shows. The racers know.
Great tire+day racing surface @RIRInsider=👍🏻👍🏻. Hope the fans liked it as much as we did. So cool to see cars making time bottom to top.— Keith Rodden (@keithrodden) April 24, 2016
3. SMOKE SIGNALS -- I've said it before and I'll say it again: NASCAR racing is more interesting when Tony Stewart is participating. In his first race this season, the three-time series champion finished a respectable 19th. And you could sense how happy he was to be back.
It's been overwhelming this weekend with friends, drivers, crew members, and officials welcoming me back as a driver. Makes me smile 😁— Tony Stewart (@TonyStewart) April 24, 2016
2. BUMP AND RUN -- If you're a fan of Carl Edwards, you loved watching him put the bumper to Kyle Busch. If you're a Busch fan, you hated it. Simple as that. But Edwards didn't put him into the wall or spin him out. That makes it OK in my book. And, no, what Edwards did at Richmond is not the same as what Joey Logano did to Matt Kenseth last fall at Kansas.
1. WE NEED MORE SHORT TRACKS -- NASCAR has addressed a lot of critical issues in the sport in the last few years. You know what, though? The last month has once again reinforced the belief that there needs to be more short-track races on the schedule. I bet with this new aero package and Goodyear tires the Cup racers would put on a great show at Iowa Speedway. Wouldn't that be fun?
See you at Talladega.