Richmond Raceway has grown more unpredictable in recent years

Chalk it up to aging pavement, which delights most race car drivers.

The asphalt surface at Richmond Raceway has become more volatile and unpredictable as the pavement degrades.

“It’s way different,” said NASCAR Xfinity Series leader Elliott Sadler, one of four drivers competing for the Dash 4 Cash bonus in Friday night’s ToyotaCare 250. “The tires are different that Goodyear brings. The asphalt is really worn out here, and the car changes a lot during a long run here.

“The track has really widened out a lot in the last couple years. It used to be everybody (ran) the bottom. Now you see guys making time through the middle and right up against the wall, especially in (Turns) 3 and 4. So the groove has really changed.”

Sadler got a second opinion from JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier, who, along with Daniel Hemric and Spencer Gallagher, also earned eligibility for the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus at Richmond.

“Today I saw Noah Gragson running the middle, and there were quite a few other cars that were running the middle,” Allgaier said. “I would say about five years ago, no one would have even thought about venturing up past maybe a lane and a half off the bottom, and he was out there actually making laps.

“That’s exciting from a driver’s standpoint. When you can see somebody already getting up there, and you’re an hour into practice, that’s pretty cool.”

Interestingly, Gragson found significant speed in the middle lane. He posted the third fastest lap overall and fastest consecutive 10-lap average in final practice for the NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers.

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.