Tim Roehrs
RICHMOND NATION Member Tim Roehrs and his wife Hope at the 2016 April race in Richmond

Below is a first-hand account from a RICHMOND NATION member about their year as a season ticket holder.


"You're kidding me!"

That was my reaction when Richmond called to tell me I'd won a trip to NASCAR Champions Week in Las Vegas. I'm so excited to go, and have RICHMOND NATION to thank for getting me there.

Normally, the general public does not get into the banquet, so being able to see the celebration of (Jimmie) Johnson's seventh championship will be fun. I'm not the biggest Jimmie Johnson fan - Kyle Busch is my guy, and I'll cheer for Denny Hamlin too - but you have to be excited for him, that's a major accomplishment.

I've been going to races since 1998, but my first race in Richmond was the fall race in 2007. I was on the wait list for tickets for years before I finally got some. You always heard about how Richmond was one of the best tracks for fans, for the excitement. It lived up to its promise!

I drive for FedEx and it's not always easy getting many Saturdays off, so I'm not always able to go to the spring race in Richmond. With it being changed to Sunday afternoons last April, I was able to go to both races, and (it) was an awesome race - one of the best races of the year.

To go on the track before the Fall Race and see some of the drivers at Gridside Live! was very exciting. RICHMOND NATION is a really good deal, (saving money on) both races and having events on race weekend and throughout the year.

My wife Hope is actually the one who got me into NASCAR, and every year it's something that brings my family together. We get together with my youngest son in Charlotte, some neighbors and good friends and travel up to Richmond for the races. We all hop in an RV and we're off.

To me, that's the most important part of being a NASCAR fan. The thrill of being at the track with family. There's nothing like it, and you can't describe it. You've got to go experience it.

Tim Roehrs
Jimmir Johnson Seven Trophies

Seven. Times.
Richard Petty. Dale Earnhardt. Jimmie Johnson. The Hendrick driver joined elite company on Sunday, as he claimed a historic seventh Cup Championship - joining the two Hall of Famers as the only drivers to accomplish such a feat. "I was driving the same race cars for the same team as Jimmie and getting beat by Jimmie," said former teammate Jeff Gordon. "To me, he’s the best I’ve ever seen." It didn't come easy for Johnson, who worked his way up from the back of the field before claiming the lead during the final overtime restart in NASCAR's thrilling season finale. "Just beyond words," said Johnson.  "Just didn't think the race was unfolding for us like we needed to do to be the champs, but we just kept our heads in the game."

Joe Gibbs Racing

Twelve wins, 3,769 laps led, four Chase drivers, and two in the Championship 4. Yes it was Jimmie Johnson hoisting the Sprint Cup trophy on Sunday night, but 2016 could be remembered as the year Joe Gibbs Racing established itself as a premier team in NASCAR. Their historic season propelled Toyota to their first ever manufacturer's title in the Cup series, snapping Chevrolet's 13-year winning streak. If you throw in the accomplishments of alliance member Martin Truex Jr. (another four wins and season-high 1,809 laps led), his future teammate Erik Jones, and an XFINITY Series Champion in Daniel Suarez - what team has a brighter future?

Chase Elliott, Erik Jones, Kyle Larson

Speaking of futures, 2016 proved that NASCAR has a promising one. The 2016 Chase field saw four newbies all under the age of 27. Rookies Chase Elliott (20) and Chris Buescher (24) joined Austin Dillon (26) and Kyle Larson (24) as first-time Chase competitors, with Elliott advancing to the Round of 12 and Larson having arguably the best car at the Championship race in Homestead. Rookie Ryan Blaney (22) had a strong campaign with nine Top-10 finishes, while Team Penske's Joey Logano (26), has established himself as one of the sport's most dangerous drivers with nine wins over the past two years and a Championship 4 run in 2016. Furniture Row Racing signed Erik Jones (20) to a full-time Cup ride in 2017, and his XFINITY Series teammate Daniel Suarez (24) took home the XFINITY Series Championship. Watch out next year, folks, these youngsters mean business.  

2017 and beyond

This season was definitely one for the books, punctuated by Denny Hamlin's historic start at the Daytona 500 and Jimmie Johnson's historic finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway. And while the sun has barely set on the 2016 season, already the NASCAR landscape is beginning to change. What will the Cup Series look like without Tony Stewart? How will his team, Stewart-Haas Racing, perform with their transition to Ford? Will 2016 go down as a career year for Joe Gibbs Racing - or just the beginning of something more? After a 12-year run with the sport, who will replace Sprint as the Cup Series sponsor? We won't have to wait long to find out - the 2017 Daytona 500 is just 95 days away.
Dennis with a fan at Gridside Live!

The checkered flag has waved on the 2016 NASCAR season. While it might be Jimmie Johnson hoisting the Sprint Cup trophy high, and we congratulate him and the No. 48 team, we feel like the true champions this year.

From hometown hero Denny Hamlin's historic finish at the Daytona 500, to the exciting season finale during Fan Appreciation Weekend, to Johnson's record-tying championship win - it's been an incredible ride that we're thrilled to have shared with you. 

You said our races were some of the very best of the season, but we won't stop there. Our staff is hard at work planning an even bigger 2017, and we can't wait to share our plans with you. As always, our top priority will be making sure our fans have the unparalleled experience they've come to expect from a race weekend at your favorite short track.

So as we wrap up the 2016 NASCAR season, one undoubtedly worthy of our incredible fans, we want to say Thank You one last time. I say it all the time: "We couldn't do what we do without you." This couldn't be clearer after a truly special season propelled by the loyal support of the best fans in sports.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dennis Bickmeier
RIR Track President
Joey Logano

He did it in Talladega. He did it in Phoenix. Can he do it again in Homestead? Joey Logano won his second straight elimination race with an overtime victory in the Can-Am 500, outracing Kyle Busch to the line and securing his berth among the Championship 4.  "This feels so good, I've never felt this good about a win before," Logano said. "There was so much on the line and everyone brings their A-game when it comes to winning championships and this team did it."

Busch's second place finish was strong enough to punch his ticket to Miami as well, where he and Logano join Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson as Championship hopefuls. But with Top-10's in five straight (and in all but two Chase races), Logano might be the hottest driver heading to South Florida. "We're racing for a championship now. We did exactly what we had to do. We've got to go to Homestead and do the same thing."

NXS Chase Field

The inaugural XFINITY Series Championship 4 is set, with Daniel Suarez, Erik Jones, Justin Allgaier, and Virginia's own Elliott Sadler chasing the top prize. It all comes down to the two teams of Joe Gibbs Racing (Jones, Suarez) and JR Motorsports (Sadler, Allgaier) battling it out at Homestead-Miami on Saturday afternoon. Surprisingly, none of these drivers have claimed a Championship title yet - including Sadler, who has been thiiiiis close a number of times since running full time in the XFINITY Series since 2011. Personally, we'll be cheering on our hometown guy, but history will be made in any case.

Championship 4

Ready. Set. Chase. 
Only one race remains in the 2016 NASCAR season - the four-way battle for a Championship in Homestead-Miami Speedway. Can Carl Edwards, who's finished runner up to the likes of Johnson (2008) and Tony Stewart (2011), finally seal the deal and win his first title? Will Jimmie Johnson add to his historic resume with a seventh Championship? Can Joey Logano, the youngest driver to compete in the Championship round, make Penske's 50th anniversary celebration extra special? Or will Kyle Busch become the first repeat champ in five years? You'll have to tune in this Sunday to find out. 

Just a couple days before the Daytona 500 kicked off the season, the RIR staff submitted their picks for the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion. 13,531 laps, 35 races, 13 race winners and one Chase Grid later, we're down to just four drivers with a shot at the Championship.

We won't be able to throw Denny Hamlin that hometown Championship celebration like so many of us had hoped, and even Martin Truex Jr's Philly fandom couldn't carry him to a title shot - but here's a quick look back at what we were saying nine months ago.

Kyle Busch
This is Kyle Busch's second Championship 4 berth.
4 WINS  |  17 TOP-5's  |  24 TOP-10's
Alright we goofed on this one. Not a single person on our staff thought the reigning champ would repeat as NASCAR's top dog, but an impressive 2016 campaign has the No. 18 thinking back-to-back.

Carl Edwards
This is Carl Edwards's first Championship 4 berth.
3 WINS  |  9 TOP-5's  |  18 TOP-10's
 Year two with the JGR powerhouse has Carl Edwards humming into his second shot at a NASCAR Championship.

Jimmie Johnson
This is Jimmie Johnson's first Championship 4 berth.
4 WINS  |  10 TOP-5's  |  15 TOP-10's
While it wasn't the kind of dominating season we saw from Johnson during his six other Championship runs, he's definitely had his mojo of late. Half of his wins this season have come in the Chase.

Joey Logano
This is Joey Logano's first Championship 4 berth.
3 WINS  |  15 TOP-5's  |  25 TOP-10's
The "youngster" in the group - Logano has been on a mission to overcome his early exit from the 2015 Chase. With wins in the past two elimination races, can he look to make it three in a row in Homestead?

Check out the original RIR Rank list below, ranked from least to greatest number of votes received: 

RIR Rank

Carl Edwards

Make that a party of two. Carl Edwards will join Jimmie Johnson as one of the Championship 4 with a win in the rain-shortened AAA Texas 500, which ran only 293 of the 334 scheduled laps. Mother Nature struck at the right time and right place for Edwards to snag his third win of the season, and first since Richmond's TOYOTA OWNERS 400 in April. "We were in a bad spot if we went green again," said Edwards. "My car was starting to go away. I ran pretty hard there at the start, but man, that’s fun." Joey Logano had a strong day too - and solidified his chances of advancing to the Championship after leading a race-high 178 laps en route to a runner-up finish.

Joe Gibbs Racing

It's election season, and the folks over at Joe Gibbs Racing decided to have a little fun with it by throwing up a couple write-in suggestions for those undecided voters out there. And why not? With all four drivers still alive in the Chase for the Sprint Cup there's plenty of reason for optimism around the Huntersville offices. Although after his win on Sunday, there's a chance that Edwards and his crew chief Dave Rogers could be busy for the forseeable future.

Kevin Harvick

The People Have Spoken
Speaking of voting - in a poll hosted by our partners over at FoxSports, fans think that Kevin Harvick has the best chance of joining Johnson and Edwards in the Championship round at Homestead. Considering the 2014 NASCAR Cup Champion has won six of the last eight races at Phoenix, he's certainly a heavy favorite. However, don't overlook the No. 22 Penske Ford either. Logano finished third in last year's Quicken Loans 500, and i coming off a strong second place showing in Texas.
Jimmie Johnson wins at Martinsville

Not one, not two, not three...alright you get the picture. Jimmie Johnson added to his lengthy Martinsville resume in capturing his ninth grandfather clock at the Goody's Fast Relief 500 on Sunday. "This is the right time to start winning races,” said Johnson, who last won at Martinsville in 2013. "It isn’t going to come easy and we knew that coming into this race and there’s so many challenges at this race track." Now that his ticket is punched to Homestead, "Six-Time" is ready to embrace the challenge of racing for a seventh NASCAR Cup Championship. "I’ve been trying to ignore this conversation about seven, and now I can’t. We’re locked in.”

Carl Edwards championship hopes took a hit

The Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas dominated much of the action in Martinsville. The trio of Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch led a combined 227 of the race's 500 laps, and that number climbs to 374 if you include the performance of alliance member Martin Truex Jr. But it wasn't all sunshine and roses for the Short Track Squad. After running in the top-10 most of the afternoon, reigning TOYOTA OWNERS 400 champion Carl Edwards suffered a blown tire that put the No. 19 right into the Turn 1 wall. The wreck sent Edwards and the No.19 behind the wall for 24 laps, resulting in a 36th place finish for the Chase contendor. He'll need to put in some serious work at Texas and Phoenix if he wants to keep his championship hopes alive.

Elliott Sadler has his eyes on a championship.
After a two-week break, the NASCAR XFINITY Series will pick back up this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. Two races remain before the series heads to Homestead-Miami Speedway, and Virginia's own Elliott Sadler is tied with NASCAR Next alumni Daniel Suarez for the Series lead. Blake Koch and Justin Allgaier round out the top four, but Erik Jones and Ryan Reed are in sitting within two points of Allgaier at P4.

Ready. Set. Chase.

The sun has set on Martinsville, and as the Chase field veers out west for a pair of desert showdowns in Texas and Phoenix a gap has already formed among the eight remaining Chase drivers. A pair of poor showings from the Stewart Haas duo and tire problems for Edwards have all three sitting more than 16 points behind Kyle Busch in P4. But Edwards has three career wins in the Lonestar state, and Harvick can look forward to Phoenix, where the 2014 Champion has won six of the last eight contests. Someone's going to make some noise over the next couple of weeks - be sure to tune in and find out who.