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Kyle Busch Collects Third Straight Cup Victory

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, April 22 2018

Kyle Busch made it three straight Cup Series victories Saturday night at he won at the Richmond short track. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Andrew Coppley)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Kyle Busch won his third straight Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race on Saturday night when he added the event at Richmond International Raceway to his list of 2018 conquests.

Busch beat Chase Elliott to the checkered flag in overtime to win for the fifth time at the .75-mile short track. The victory was the 46th of his Cup career.

Afterward the Joe Gibbs Racing driver tipped his helmet to his crew.

“I think the difference for us tonight was just the adjustments (to the car),” Busch said. “Trying to stay with the race track all night long. (Crew chief) Adam Stevens and my guys did a phenomenal job. I think one of the other keys to the night was just my guys – my pit crew. They got us out front when it mattered the most those last two pit stops. They were awesome tonight on pit road.”

Busch got the win despite starting at the rear of the field.

He became the second driver to win three straight in 2018 as Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing did it earlier in the season. Busch himself won three straight Cup races in 2015, claiming checkered flags at  Kentucky, New Hampshire and Indianapolis after missing the first 11 races of the 2015 season because of injury.

Next up for the streaking Busch is a track where the race often goes not to the swiftest, but the luckiest – Talladega Superspeedway.

“It’s definitely cool we’ve won three in a row,” Busch said. “We did it a couple years ago, and now I don’t know if you can shoot for four in a row. It’s hard to go to Talladega with that much of a winning streak and think that you can go to Victory Lane, but we’re going to go there anyway and give it a shot.

“We’ll see what we can do… I think it’s easier to win the Power Ball than to win at Talladega.”

The last driver to win four straight races was Jimmie Johnson, who secured his second series title in 2007 with consecutive Playoff victories at Martinsville, Atlanta, Texas and Phoenix.

Elliott finished second in his Hendrick Motorsports Chevy for the eighth-time in his career.

“Yeah, just very fortunate circumstances there at the end for us, with the way the restarts went,” Elliott said. “Having a short run there at the end was definitely in our favor. So it was nice to be on the good end of things for the first time in a while.

“Looking forward, we have to be realistic about how we ran tonight. I think the result shouldn’t weigh into how hard we worked this week because we have some work to do. I think that we have to keep that in mind.”

Seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson continued to show improvement as he finished sixth in his Hendrick Chevy.

“We had to start the race on the tires we qualified with,” he said, “and as soon as we got those tires off the car, we were a very competitive car and were able to stay on the lead lap. And with the long green flag runs, we were able to still stay on the lead lap and work our way up through the field. I don’t know what we’re missing on scuff tires but that’s something we’ve got to figure out.”

Defending Series champion Martin Truex Jr. led a race high of 121 laps and was contending for the win with 10 laps remaining.

While running second, he pitted on Lap 390. A bad stop moved him back to 11th. He finished 14th.

Tonight we beat ourselves, so that’s unfortunate,” said Truex, who started on the pole.  “Pretty disappointed that we didn’t get at least a chance. I don’t know what we have to do to win at one of these short tracks and get everything to go the way we need it to.

“The guys did a really good job with the race car. We were awful at the start of the race and I thought we were really in trouble. Just fought all night long and tried to stick with it and make good adjustments, and put ourselves in position to try to win another one and just came up short. Frustrated, but proud of everyone for the effort and hopefully we’ll get them next week (at Talladega).”

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race – Toyota Owners 400

Richmond Raceway

Richmond, Virginia

Saturday, April 21, 2018

  1. (32) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 402.
  2. (2) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 402.
  3. (4) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 402.
  4. (3) Joey Logano, Ford, 402.
  5. (10) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 402.
  6. (17) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 402.
  7. (5) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 402.
  8. (28) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 402.
  9. (16) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 402.
  10. (26) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 402.
  11. (6) Kurt Busch, Ford, 402.
  12. (9) William Byron #, Chevrolet, 402.
  13. (7) Erik Jones, Toyota, 402.
  14. (1) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 402.
  15. (23) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 402.
  16. (27) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 402.
  17. (25) Aric Almirola, Ford, 402.
  18. (11) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 402.
  19. (8) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 402.
  20. (31) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 402.
  21. (21) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 402.
  22. (13) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 402.
  23. (12) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 402.
  24. (20) Paul Menard, Ford, 401.
  25. (18) Darrell Wallace Jr. #, Chevrolet, 401.
  26. (19) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 401.
  27. (33) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 401.
  28. (30) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 401.
  29. (29) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 400.
  30. (35) Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 400.
  31. (24) Michael McDowell, Ford, 400.
  32. (22) * Daniel Hemric(i), Chevrolet, 399.
  33. (15) David Ragan, Ford, 399.
  34. (36) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 397.
  35. (34) Gray Gaulding, Toyota, 393.
  36. (38) Harrison Rhodes, Chevrolet, 386.
  37. (14) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, Accident, 368.
  38. (37) * Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, Electrical, 188.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  96.215 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 08 Mins, 01 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.511 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  6 for 46 laps.

Lead Changes:  16 among 7 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   M. Truex Jr. 1-38; J. Logano 39-111; Kurt Busch 112-169; C. Bowyer 170-192; J. Logano 193-211; Kurt Busch 212-251; C. Bowyer 252-272; Kyle Busch 273; D. Hamlin 274-276; M. Truex Jr. 277-323; K. Harvick 324-331; C. Bowyer 332; D. Hamlin 333-335; M. Truex Jr. 336-370; Kyle Busch 371-390; M. Truex Jr. 391; Kyle Busch 392-402.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  M. Truex Jr. 4 times for 121 laps; Kurt Busch 2 times for 98 laps; J. Logano 2 times for 92 laps; C. Bowyer 3 times for 45 laps; Kyle Busch 3 times for 32 laps; K. Harvick 1 time for 8 laps; D. Hamlin 2 times for 6 laps.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 22,10,41,24,14,18,9,3,78,4

Stage #2 Top Ten: 22,14,10,41,24,18,31,2,78,4

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, April 22 2018
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