Sunday's wild finish at Talladega has been the talk all week, but that buzz will end Saturday at Richmond International Raceway, the site of another controversial finish last spring.
It occurred with two laps to go when Kyle Busch made contact with leader Dale Earnhardt Jr, sending him on a slow spin into the wall. Clint Bowyer, running third, drove underneath both cars and went on to victory.
When the resident bad boy knocks out the sport's biggest name, you know there is going to be fallout - and plenty of video replays before the running of Saturday night's Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond.
“When he wrecked Junior, there were a lot of number ones from the fans, and it wasn't with their index fingers,” Bowyer recalled this week, “That was probably the most fun I've ever had winning a race. I've never had one of those surprise, shocker, hand-it-to-you wins, and I thought to myself 'wow, this is awesome'. I thought we were going to have a third-place finish and then, bam, that happened and we won.”
Bowyer hasn't returned to victory lane since, and he enters Saturday's race on a string of poor finishes that have dropped him from second in the standings to eighth. Last week, he was caught up in 'the big one' early on at Talladega and finished 39th, adding to his previous two race results of 26th at Phoenix and 22nd at Texas.
Kurt Busch, however, emerged from Talladega with the points lead for the first time since early 2005, and heads to Richmond five points ahead of Jeff Gordon.
“Being in the points lead is great and is something to be proud of, but we know we have to keep all that pride and emotion in check,” Busch said, “There is just so much more racing to be done. We can't let any of the early success we've enjoyed so far go to our heads.”
Of Busch's 19 career Cup wins, seven have come at short tracks, including one at three-quarter-mile Richmond. He'll be driving the same car that finished sixth at New Hampshire last September, second at Phoenix in November and a third at Phoenix last month.
“Kurt really likes the car, and we all are confident that we can get the job done with it and reach our goal at Richmond on Saturday night,” said crew chief Pat Tryson