Richmond Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: Clowns, four-wide, and coming up short

Racing at Richmond is always a blast. You’ve got short-track tempers, racing to reach the playoffs, a treacherous pit road entrance, and that certain something about racing under the lights. Richmond’s worthy of receiving only a thumbs-up, but that’s not how things work.

Thumbs Up: Diversifying your portfolio

Believe it or not, prior to Saturday’s win at Richmond, Kyle Larson had never won at a track that wasn’t a 2-mile D-shaped oval (Michigan or Fontana).

When Larson swiped the victory in the late stages of the Federated Auto Parts 400 Saturday night, it marked his first short track win and his first night race victory.

Thumbs up to Kyle Larson for mixing it up a little bit. It won’t be long until he’s bringing home checkered flags on more types of tracks. Maybe Target can hook him up with his own version of Supermarket Sweep, which he’d probably win.

Thumbs Down: Clowns

Clowns are weird. Like, the very idea of a grown adult dressing up in eccentric, oversized clothing, colorful wigs and full face makeup is very strange.

After contact with race-dominant Martin Truex Jr. on the final lap, Denny Hamlin took total responsibility for the crash, describing himself as a clown.

RELATED: Hamlin: ‘Tonight, I was a clown’

Denny, you would have earned a thumbs-up for taking ownership for a mistake, but instead, you get a thumbs down for being a clown, which is something weird and scary. Sorry, Dennywise.

Thumbs Up: Four-wide salute to the fans

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers started the Federated Auto Parts 400 with a four-wide salute to the fans prior to the green flag.

The four-wide fan appreciation salute is a fixture in dirt racing. Maybe that’s why noted dirt racer Kyle Larson won the race.

Thumbs up for a cool racing spectacle on a Saturday night short track.

Thumbs Down: Coming up short

It must be frustrating to work all season toward one goal, only to fall short. That was the reality for Erik Jones, Clint Bowyer, and Joey Logano, who didn’t quite make the playoffs despite their expectations.

Erik Jones had a solid race go south after a bad restart at the end of the race, relegating the No. 77 car to a sixth-place finish.

RELATED: Jones misses third gear on restart

Clint Bowyer didn’t pull off the win he wanted, but at least he’ll be in teammate mode for the rest of the season.

And, as for Joey Logano, he came up one position shy of winning at Richmond, which would have put the No. 22 in the playoffs. Instead, Logano’s on the outside looking in.

At least there’s a silver lining for the rest of us, thanks to an old bet made back in May.


Thumbs down for not quite sealing the deal.

Biggest Thumbs Up of the Week: Having a lot of playoff points

Martin Truex Jr.’s night may have ended early at Richmond, but you’ve got to hand it to the No. 78 team: they’re very well-prepared for the playoffs.

That’s what winning 18 stages, four races, and the regular season championship will do.

Thumbs up for earning a lot of playoff points — 53 points, in fact — for a stellar regular season. This essentially equates to one free race during each round of the playoffs.