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Larson Wins Stage 1, Berry Marches Forward

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What’s Happening?

On this Easter Sunday night, it’s time for short trackin’ under the lights in Richmond. And what an opening stage it was. With weather in the area, NASCAR made the decision early on to start the race on wet weather tires to assist in the track drying efforts. By lap 40 however, the treaded tires were on off and the slicks were back on!

In the opening laps of the stage, Kyle Larson faced challenges from teammate Chase Elliott who led a handful of laps. Larson, however, would go on to overtake his teammate. Following the competition caution, Bubba Wallace would go on to challenge for the lead but, again, Larson was able to maintain his lead. He went on to win the stage.

Another highlight in this race was Josh Berry who ended the stage in the 9th position. After starting the race in the thirtieth position, Berry would continue his march forward inside the top 10. When battling for 9th against Daniel Sarez, Berry would make contact with the No. 99, sending him around. This caution would end the stage, handing the win to Kyle Larson.

The Main Characters

In wet weather tires or on slicks, polesitter Kyle Larson had a fast car and flexed some muscle in the opening stage. We’ll be keeping an eye on him as the race goes along.

As reported by Bob Pockrass, the top 10 following the stage were:

  • Kyle Larson
  • Bubba Wallace
  • Alex Bowman
  • Martin Truex Jr.
  • Joey Logano
  • Todd Gilliland
  • Chase Elliott
  • Ross Chastain
  • Josh Berry
  • Ryan Preece

Around The Garage

One of the major storylines heading into tonight’s race was the weather. When the time came for the drivers to fire engines, the rain appeared to have moved out. Bob Pockrass of FOX Sports posted this image of the radar over on X.

Due to the track still being damp, the drivers took the green flag on wet weather tires. Each team had a set of wet weather tires in their pit boxes. The benefit of using wet weather tires is that they were able to start the race relatively on time. The biggest drawback, however, was that as the track dried, the tires started to wear at a rapid pace.

During the competition caution on Lap 30, NASCAR mandated that teams come down and put slicks on their cars, deeming the track dry.

In The Stands

When the decision was made to transition from wet weather tires to slicks, fans weren’t shy about letting their displeasure show. Most fans wanted the allow the teams to decide when they switch over from wet weather tires to slicks. The issue is that doing this (like Formula 1, for example) on a short banked oval is seen as a safety issue in the eyes of NASCAR officials.

For Kozma, he feels that this faction of NASCAR fandom is just talking to a brick wall.

Matthew Kendrick says that he is tired of the wet weather tires, claiming that they ultimately make things worse.

Dakota Camper commented that the issue between Suarez and Josh Berry was the result of a “bad block”.

Outrun6017 dogs on NASCAR for the amount of time this race has spent under caution thus far.

On Your Screen

Out of the Groove host, Eric Estepp took to X to post about his frustrations with NASCAR. After the competition caution, NASCAR had the field remain out to run 20 laps under caution as safety crews dried pit road. Eric’s gripe is about them wasting all of that time only to still do non-competitive pit stops.

On To Stage 2

One down, two to go in Richmond. Who is your early-race favorite? Let us know and keep it right here at DailyDownforce.com for full coverage of the Toyota Owners 400.

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Cody Williams

Cody Williams is the author of BUNNY BOY and THE FIFTH LINE. He lives near Bristol, TN.
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