Joey Logano emerged at the victor in a battle of attrition on Saturday at the 2014 Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway:
The short-track race was marked by plenty of action as drivers attempted to make the most of every turn. Of course, that usually results in some tough sledding for some, and Clint Bowyer was among those who had a difficult night.
He started the night with an incident on Lap 1 and ultimately ended the evening with a literal tire fire:
Dale Earnhardt Jr. put in an uncharacteristically strong performance in Richmond; he at least tasted the lead. As NASCAR stats points out, that's been a rare achievement for him:
In the end, this was a race that was marked by chaos. With nine cautions for 66 laps and 24 lead changes, there was never a shortage of action. The tension between drivers didn't just stop at the race's conclusion, either; according to Marty Smith of ESPN, Casey Mears and Marcos Ambrose came to blows after the race:
Earnhardt Jr., who managed to stay away from the drama, weighed in on all the bickering between drivers:
Of course, drivers don't get any extra points for their pugilistic abilities, but each race does have an impact on the standings. Here's a look at how the Sprint Cup is shaping up and a look ahead to what's next.
|Sprint Cup Standings Following Toyota Owners 400|
|5||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||309||-32|
|ESPN.com Top 16 qualify|
|2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Schedule (Races 10-26)|
|Sun, May 4||Aaron's 499||Talladega Superspeedway||1 p.m.||Fox|
|Sat, May 10||Kansas 400||Kansas Speedway||7:30 p.m.||Fox|
|Fri, May 16||Sprint Showdown||Charlotte Motor Speedway||7 p.m.||Fox Sports 1|
|Sat, May 17||NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race||Charlotte Motor Speedway||9 p.m.||Fox Sports 1|
|Sun, May 25||Coca-Cola 600||Charlotte Motor Speedway||6 p.m.||Fox|
|Sun, June 1||FedEx 400||Dover International Speedway||1 p.m.||Fox|
|Sun, June 8||Pocono 400||Pocono Raceway||1 p.m.||TNT|
|Sun, June 15||Quicken Loans 400||Michigan International Speedway||1 p.m.||TNT|
|Sun, June 22||Toyota-Save Mart 350||Sonoma||3 p.m.||TNT|
|Sat, June 28||Quaker State 400||Kentucky Speedway||7:30 p.m.||TNT|
|Sat, July 5||Coke Zero 400||Daytona International Speedway||7:30 p.m.||TNT|
|Sun, July 13||Camping World RV Sales 301||New Hampshire Motor Speedway||1 p.m.||TNT|
|Sun, July 27||Crown Royal 400||Indianapolis Motor Speedway||1 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sun, Aug. 3||GoBowling.com 400||Pocono Raceway||1 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sun, Aug. 10||Cheez-It 355 at The Glen||Watkins Glen International||1 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sun, Aug. 17||Pure Michigan 400||Michigan International Speedway||1 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sat, Aug. 23||Irwin Tools Night Race||Bristol Motor Speedway||7:30 p.m.||ABC|
|Sun, Aug. 31||AdvoCare 500||Atlanta Motor Speedway||7:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sat, Sept. 6||Federated Auto Parts 400||Richmond International Raceway||7:30 p.m.||ABC|
Up Next: Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway
Drivers looking to bounce back after a disappointing performance on the short track at Richmond International Speedway won't have to wait long. The Sprint Cup series will pick back up at Talladega Superspeedway on May 4.
Drivers will have much more space to work with on the 2.66-mile track after managing the .75-mile track at Richmond.
Last year, that change helped teammates David Ragan and David Gilliland take first and second, respectively in a wild finish. However, neither finds himself as a legitimate contender in the Sprint Cup series to this point in the season, so expecting either to suddenly change his fortune might be a bit of a stretch.
The contender who may benefit the most from returning to Talladega just might be Carl Edwards. The 34-year-old finished third in the race in 2013 and finds himself right in the thick of the Sprint Cup standings.
That was nearly a year ago, though. With the wide-open status of the Sprint Cup field and the rivalries that are sure to carry over from Saturday night's action-packed race, the Aaron's 499 will be a race well worth tuning into.