This weekend, NASCAR is making a pit stop in Virginia for the annual Toyota Owners 400, held once again at the Richmond International Raceway. Tens of thousands of race car fans are expected to be in attendance on the road to the Sprint Cup Series.
If you were lucky enough to be in attendance last year, you know that it was a race to remember. Four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon led the race for nearly half of its 400 laps – 173 of them, to be precise. In the end, however, it was Joey Lagano who wound up taking home the coveted title of Toyota Owners 400 victor, earning himself 44 points toward the ultimate goal of raising the Sprint Cup Trophy.
But as race fans know, it was Kevin Harvick that wound up walking away with the NASCAR’s crowning achievement, and you can be sure he’s looking to defend his title on April 25, starting at 7 p.m. A motley crew of other title contenders will have something to say about that, of course, like Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, and Lagano, who hopes to become the race’s first back-to-back champion since Busch accomplished the feat in 2012.
Full day of events planned
But it isn’t just the race itself that will make the Richmond International Raceway the place to be this weekend, as the parking lots open at 7 a.m. and the gates by 2 p.m. Early arrivals are encouraged to join their fellow race enthusiasts for Track Takeover. There will be a variety of interactive experiences that the whole family can enjoy, including educational displays, an exclusive question and answer session with NASCAR great Dale Earnhardt, Jr., as well as the opportunity to test your skills behind the wheel of the Nationwide 88 simulator. It’s the closest thing you can get to the real thing.
There will also be lots of appearances from other household names, like Casey Mears, who will be at the GEICO Midway Display at 3 p.m., Carl Edwards at the Toyota Pit Pass at 3:40 p.m., and Ryan Newman answering any and all questions around 4:00 p.m. at the Chevrolet Midway exhibit.
Country star Beddingfield to make RIR debut
Country music fans are sure to have a good time as well, because country star Eric Lee Beddingfield will make his inaugural appearance on the RIR stage. Once an underground performer, Beddingfield gained notoriety after collaborating with country legend George Jones, cutting the hit-single “The Gospel According to Jones.”
It all kicks off at 2 p.m. on April 25. Advance tickets start at $35, with kids 12 and under getting a $25 discount when accompanied with a paying adult.
For more information on seating and what else you can expect if it’s your first visit to the track, check out RIR’s website.