It seems as though the last couple weeks in the sport has been marred more with controversy and taking away success rather than celebrating victory and continuing towards a title.
Two weeks ago, it was Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski getting the hammer dropped for parts unapproved by NASCAR. Then Wednesday, NASCAR drops an anvil on the No. 20 team from driver to owner. Matt Kenseth loses all the points he won on Sunday, can't use it towards Wild Card seeding, nor standings in the Chase.
His crew chief is fined $200,000 and suspended for six weeks, and even owner Joe Gibbs has his owner's license stripped from the car for six weeks.
All this because one part, not even from the Gibbs shop, did not meet rules requirements.
Now, somehow and some way, every team is trying to get their focus back to the race track. Maybe some are angry, some are frustrated, some just want to get aggressive. On Saturday night, the opportunity will arrive because not only is this week a short track, it's under the lights and is one of the most popular tracks among drivers and fans on the circuit.
It's simply "Racing Perfection" as NASCAR this week is at Richmond. This 0.75-mile track has provided great action, great memories, and great arguments. Certainly after the last few weeks, this certainly is a perfect setting to take out some frustration.
Certainly some writers are frustrated about having lost points the last few weeks, so wins are coming at a premium now. But their picks are locked in, and are ready for some intense action.
Take a peek at their choices for the Toyota Owners 400:
Misan Akuya: Ryan Newman
Man, what a tough season it's been for me in fantasy picks. No wins and plenty of poor finishes. I got to get something going.
That is why I am picking Newman. The Rocket Man is quietly leading the charge for Stewart-Haas Racing, being the highest finishing car in five of the eight races run. The other three races he had issues. He is in Chase contention and does have a win at RIR.
So, another win is in the cards.
Rob Blount: Kyle Busch
Kyle is always strong at Richmond, and will be again on Saturday. I guarantee he'll be fighting for the win at the end of 400 laps.
James Broomhead: Kyle Busch
AUTHOR NOTE: I will say his anger at the penalty towards Kenseth is justly earned, and made for a good read.
Kelly Crandall: Kyle Busch
Toss up between he and Kasey Kahne. But, Kyle has the better track record, something I hope helps me with the luck I've been having this season.
Billy Fellin: Kyle Busch
He's won four of the last four spring races at RIR. I'll take that.
AUTHOR NOTE: Billy is representing the Richmond-Times Dispatch in the media center this week at Richmond. Any articles he provides I will tweet and share on my Facebook page.
Michael Hirshbein: Kyle Busch
Christopher Leone: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Ah, man. Well, I missed Kansas because I was working at X Games for Global Rallycross, but Scott Speed sure looked impressive down there with us...nah, just kidding.
Kara Martin: Kyle Busch
Ryan O'Hara: Jimmie Johnson
Dustin Parks: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
This week has been extremely tough to pick. With Hamlin not being able to drive, the heavy favorite is out. So obviously you know he'll influence his other teammates on how he drives this place. But if I wanna win, I can't just go with everyone else's pick.
So, away from Gibbs I go and instead I'm gonna play my cards with the 88 Team. He's a former winner here and is off to a great start this season, not only on the track, but off the track as well. He's really showing what he can do with the right people at the right team.
So, it's Driver-88 for me this weekend.
Patti Rodisch: Jimmie Johnson
I am riding high on solid finishes right now. This was a tough one. Was torn between a few drivers.
Johnson is solid here, and has been good on short tracks this season. Johnson will continue to get it done this weekend.
Sal Sigala Jr: Kyle Busch
Rob Tiongson: Kyle Busch
Would be neat to see Rowdy get his fifth consecutive win at Richmond. Who knows? I need a win.
Standings following Kansas:
Patti Rodisch (318) Jimmie Johnson finished 3rd (0)
Rob Tiongson (294) Jeff Gordon finished 13th (1)
Billy Fellin (289) Brad Keselowski finished 6th (1)
Rob Blount (281) Kasey Kahne finished 2nd (1)
Dustin Parks (261) Clint Bowyer finished 5th (0)
Michael Hirshbein (257) Kyle Busch finished 38th (2)
Kara Martin (256) Jimmie Johnson finished 3rd (0)
Ryan O'Hara (256) Clint Bowyer finished 5th (0)
Sal Sigala Jr. (254) Jimmie Johnson finished 3rd (0)
Kelly Crandall (238) Greg Biffle finished 19th (0)
James Broomhead (217) Matt Kenseth WON (0)
Christopher Leone (207) Kyle Busch finished 38th (0)
Misan Akuya (199) Carl Edwards finished 17th (0)
Final Thoughts: It's obvious that the Gibbs influence is seen in the picks, as the popular pick outnumbers the rest by about a 3:1 ratio. So even with the hometown guy on the sidelines, he definitely will make sure his team cars will run strong.
FOX will have the broadcast beginning at 7 p.m. ET.
Summary of Picks:
Dale Earnhardt Jr-2