September 7, 1991: Harry Gant shines “under the lights” at Richmond International Raceway, winning the first scheduled night race at the Action Track. It was the second of four consecutive trips to Victory Lane that month - earning him the nickname “Mr. September.”

September 12, 1998: Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon hook up for the closest finish in NASCAR action at Richmond. Burton edges Gordon by just 0.051 second for the win after starting third. His winnings top $100,000 for the first time at Richmond.

September 11, 1999: Future champion Tony Stewart wins his first ever Cup race by edging teammate Bobby Labonte. Richmond remains close to Stewart’s heart; he’s had nothing but praise for the track: "It's not one of my favorite tracks; it is my favorite track," Stewart says. "It is literally the favorite track of mine on the circuit."

September 8, 2001: Virginia native Ricky Rudd loses the lead after being bumped by Kevin Harvick in the waning laps of the Chevrolet Monte Carlo 400. With just six laps to go, Rudd retaliates with a push from behind to re-take the lead en route to his second win at Richmond. Finishing third in that battle? Dale Earnhardt Jr.

September 12, 2009: “One Last Race to Make The Chase” again lives up to its billing. The Chase field is unsettled until the final lap, as Brian Vickers edges Kyle Busch by just eight points for the 12th spot in NASCAR’s playoffs. Denny Hamlin finally takes the checkered flag in a Cup Series race at his hometown track for the first time.

September 8, 2012: Jeff Gordon rallies from a lap down to race his way into The Chase with a second place finish to Clint Bowyer. Bowyer edged out Gordon by 1.198 seconds in one of the tightest finishes in RIR history. To this day, Gordon considers it one of his favorite moments at Richmond, commenting after the fact, "... It was amazing. I still can't believe we actually did it."

September 10, 2016: For the Federated Auto Parts 400 this September, we celebrate the RIR tradition of racing under the lights with the "25th Anniversary of The Night Race." To get ready, we're offering TWO tickets on the fronstretch for just $91 total.

Here's what we know: the TOYOTA OWNERS 400 was one for the record books. The new tire and aero-packages led to some of the best on-track action we've seen in years, Jeff Gordon freaked out in the TV booth and how 'bout that Pre-Race? What we didn't know: what fans, drivers and the NASCAR industry as a whole would react to the return of Sunday afternoon racing at RIR. Thanks to the Twittersphere, answers weren't hard to find. 

“Four-wide at Richmond, are you kidding me?”
Early in the race, the high line appeared almost like magic. The little grip caused cars to slip and slide across the track, creating multiple grooves in which cars could go three and even four-wide as they battled for track position. 

The Fans React
It’s no secret the switch from a Saturday night showdown to a Sunday afternoon battle was something of a leap of faith. Change isn't always easy, but this one was well worth it.

85% Vote – “YES.”
Jeff Gluck's post-race polls are something every NASCAR fan is familiar with. The USA TODAY reporter asks his Twitter followers to vote and share their opinion of the race that week - and Richmond's 85% "YES" score was the second highest this season, falling only behind Fontana. 

Not A Great Day for All
It can't always be sunshine and daisies though. A few non-"flawless” pit stops had lasting repercussions for more than one team, but maybe none worse than Kurt Busch's on lap 360. Leading at the time, a slow(ish) trip down pit road dropped the 41 from first to fifth.

Honorable Mention: Samantha Busch found herself in hot water post-race, after allegedly mouthing a curse word on live TV. (We don’t blame her one bit. We’ve said much worse in far less frustrating situations.)

In a race with 23 lead changes and over 2,000 total passes, finding the top-5 moments in the TOYOTA OWNERS 400 was no easy task. Nonetheless, we gave it a whirl – let us know in the comments below if you disagree. In chronological order:

Johnson Passes Harvick on the High Line

Obviously Jimmie Johnson’s no. 48 showed promise all day – finishing P3 in a race where seemingly few came out unscuffed was no easy task. However, it was his pass on the high line on Lap 21 to snatch the lead from Kevin Harvick that told us we were about to see a helluva race.

Elliott Goes 3-Wide Off the Restart

In what was maybe the funniest line of the entire broadcast, Jeff Gordon said “There's something you didn't see out of the 24 car last year." He was, of course, referring to Chase Elliott’s aggressive restart on lap 165, going three-wide off the restart and even taking the action four-wide into turn 2 while passing several cars on the high line. In maybe the second funniest line of the broadcast, Tony Stewart described the move as “sexy” via radio to his crew.

Are You Kidding Me?!

Speaking of four-wide, Jeff Gordon couldn’t have said it better: “Four-wide at Richmond, are you kidding me???” Drivers went four-wide into turns 1 and 2 several times yesterday coming off of restarts. We used to think three-wide at Richmond was a big deal…until yesterday afternoon’s perfect conditions made passing in the high line possible for the first time in years.

A Little Sibling Rivalry

A debris caution on Lap 312 brought the field to pit road – including Kyle Busch, who had been leading his brother Kurt since he passed him on Lap 287. A top-notch job by the 41’s pit crew brought Kurt off pit road first – just inches in front of Kyle. Kyle would take the lead again after winning the race off pit road on Lap 361, but this split-second victory for Kurt is what really caught our attention. 

A Historic Finish

In the very first last-lap pass at Richmond, Carl Edwards dumped Kyle Busch in the middle of turn 4 to take the checkered flag. While debate has raged across the industry on whether or not the move was legit between teammates, Edwards’s crew chief, Dave Rogers, said: "If we look at the big picture, today was a great day for NASCAR. Our fans don't want to see teammate orders. They don't deserve teammates to fall in line. They deserve good, hard racing." And good, hard racing was for sure what we got.

There's something to the importance of a first impression and the Pre-Race Ceremonies before the TOYOTA OWNERS 400 certainly delivered on Sunday. Start with a flame-filled Driver Introductions that included the 2016 debut of three-time Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart, add in an emotional tribute to our nation's service members, and finish with an incredible performance of our National Anthem by a rising star (punctuated by a six plane flyover, no less) and you've got something special.

You can relive it all here with us. 

Sights from the Show
Pre-Race at the TOYOTA OWNERS 400

Trent Harmon, Ladies and Gentleman

Ashlyn Newman's reaction sums up our thoughts better than words ever could.

"I've never seen this many passes at Richmond," said an ecstatic Jeff Gordon during Sunday's TOYOTA OWNERS 400 race broadcast.

There was some phenomenal action on display all afternoon, but it was the last lap that fans will remember most. Carl Edwards used a little race rubbing on Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch coming out of Turn 4 on the final lap and cruised past to his second win in as many weeks. 

“That's the most fun I've had at Richmond. That was a blast,” said Edwards. “I don't know what it looks like from the outside, but from the inside, all the cars were out there searching for grip. Crew chiefs are making changes," Edwards said. " I think the day race, the heat helped, the lower downforce package helped, the Goodyear tire helped. It was just really a lot of fun to race.”

As for any love lost in the JGR garage, don't expect one of the sport's tightest racing families to get into squabbles anytime soon.

"What you do is you start out and work your way through it. That's what we'll do," said team owner Joe Gibbs, who's team has had more success on short tracks than any other in the past decade.

Busch led 78 laps in the second place effort, Denny Hamlin (sixth) and Matt Kenseth (seventh) also pulled out top-10 finishes. 

“Our Banfield Camry was really awesome today. We had some real good speed,” said Busch. "The adjustments Adam (Stevens) made certainly helped our car a lot, got us into the position we needed to be.”

The race was slowed eight times for caution and there were 23 lead changes among eight drivers.

The last time Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran an XFINITY Series race at Richmond, he found his way into Victory Lane. His 2016 attempt? Rinse and repeat.

Starting from the second row, Junior led a race high 128-laps in Saturday's ToyotaCare 250 XFINITY Series Dash 4 Cash en route to his first Series win since 2010.

“In the first 20 laps there was a lot of guys as good, maybe better, than us,” Earnhardt said. “I think Ty (Dillon) was better than me on the last couple of laps. It was a good race and a good finish.”

#DaleYeah it was.

Junior navigated his way through two late-race cautions, including one that resulted from a multi-car wreck involving JRM teammate Justin Allgaier. Allgaier, one of the four XFINITY Series regulars in the running for the XFINITY Dash 4 Cash prize, was running out front before contact with Brennan Poole sent him spinning.

The wreck also put D4C-eligible Erik Jones, running seventh at the time, out of contention for the $100,000 prize.

RCR's Ty Dillon took advantage of the late-race wreckage and maneuvered his way to a second place victory and Richmond's Dash 4 Cash crown.

“You’re sure this is Richmond, right?” Dillion laughed. “This place has been really tough on me and my team as a whole. To finish second and run the way we did all day was just impressive.”

While the win is the 24th of Earnhardt’s career, it’s his first victory while driving a car he owns.

“I knew we had great cars at Richmond and that’s why I picked to run here,” Earnhardt said. “This was one of the races I asked if I could run, so I was lucky to just be able to drive our stuff here.”

He'll get to drive that stuff again for tomorrow afternoon's TOYOTA OWNERS 400 and is excited about the race's transition to a Sunday afternoon event.

"There will be some good passing, and racing, and slipping and sliding throughout the pack," Earnhardt said.  "You’ll see guys really having a hard time getting the throttle down off the corner. They’re going to be spinning out sideways getting into Turn 3 and Turn 1...they’re gonna be moving around, looking for grip - and I think that’s great."

Virginia native Elliott Sadler came home third. Daniel Suarez and Austin Dillon rounded out the top-five. Cole Custer, in his Xfinity Series debut, finished sixth.