NASCAR and conspiracy theorists enjoy a long history, and last night’s race at Richmond added plenty of fuel to those who are convinced that NASCAR’s powers-that-be continually attempt to realign the stars in order to manipulate track conditions to get Dale Earnhardt Jr. to victory lane.

Before we go any further, keep in mind that these unnamed NASCAR powers-that-be have not quite figured out how to make this happen… Junior’s gone how many races since his last Cup Series victory (June 15, 2008 at Michigan International Speedway)? I stopped counting long ago.

But never mind, Richmond provided plenty of fodder to incite those who believe these theories. First, race leader Carl Edwards gets black-flagged on a questionable restart on lap 320, taking him out of contention. Then, on lap 386, a water bottle mysteriously lands on the back stretch, causing a “debris” caution, and placing Dale Jr. in third place on the restart. Tony Stewart spins his tires, Kyle Busch jumps out in front, and Junior grabs the second spot as the race heads into the final eight laps.

Did the Junior Nation roar in anticipation of a victory? You betcha! We could hear it all the way down in Georgia when he trailed Busch by one-half second. But, obviously, the NASCAR powers-that-be didn’t cue the 18 car in on the plan—Busch captured the checkered flag seconds before Junior crossed the finish line.

Actually, that’s ok with me. If Junior had won, it would have been thanks to that mystery water bottle, the questionable black flag for the 99... not because he had “earned” the victory. Junior Nation can wait another week. After all, it’s Talladega! The Pack returns!

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