Fenders were battered, punches were thrown, cars burned to the ground, and in the end, Joey Logano punched his ticket to his second-straight Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
That is the night that was at Richmond International Raceway in a nutshell, as Logano scooted past a three-way battle among Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, and Jeff Gordon to take the checkered flag in Saturday's Toyota Owners 400. It is his second win of the 2014 season - thus guaranteeing his No. 22 Ford will compete for the championship this fall - and the fifth of his career.
Gordon held on for second in the late scrum, perhaps a disappointment after leading nearly half of the 400-lap distance. Kyle Busch, riding four fresh Goodyears and driving like a self-described "bad mofo" came from outside the top-10 to finish third, with Keselowski and Kenseth completing the top-five.
A.J. Allmendinger had another solid night in his JTG-Daugherty Racing Chevy, finishing sixth, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards, and Martin Truex Jr. Polesitter Kyle Larson spun in the very first corner after contact from Clint Bowyer and was never able to recover, finishing 16th.
The drama did not end with the race's wild finish, though. Keselowski appeared to "brake check" Kenseth in an attempt to damage his Toyota, a manuever which collected Allmendinger and Earnhardt in the subsequent stack-up. Keselowski gestured at Kenseth afterwards on pit road and likely threw some harsh words his direction, but as he left his helmet on, who's to know? In an interview with Fox Sports - sans helmet - Keselowski blamed Kenseth's late-race blocking for costing him a shot at winning the race, while Kenseth admitted that he had done everything he could to try to hang onto the lead.
Meanwhile, for reasons unknown, a garage skirmish broke out between Casey Mears and Marcos Ambrose that included a punch by the Tasmanian that clocked Mears hard on the left side of his head before the crews got involved.
The fireworks weren't restricted solely for the end of the race, however. Four drivers - Bowyer, Cole Whitt, Reed Soreson, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - had right-front tires cord and come apart. The rubber wrapped around hot engine and wheel assembly pieces, catching fire and turning all four race cars into rolling Tiki torches. None of the drivers were injured, but Bowyer and Sorenson's cars were both damaged too badly to continue. Jimmie Johnson corded two right-front tires but wisely pitted before a similar fate befell him, though he ended the night with a dismal 32nd-place finish, four laps off Logano's race-winning pace.
With his runner-up finish, Gordon maintains his hold on the Sprint Cup point lead by five over Kenseth. Both drivers remain winless nine races into the 2014 campaign. Logano, meanwhile, stands atop the Chase seeding.