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Kyle Busch Tears Up The Field In Richmond

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, September 22 2018

Kyle Busch picked his way from the back of the field to the front at Richmond on Saturday night. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Alan Marler)

Saturday did not start well for Kyle Busch but it sure ended well.

Busch, who was forced to start 39th in the 40-car field after being penalized for unapproved alterations to his car prior to the race, came all the way back to win the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway on Saturday night.

“Even though we started dead last (kind of), come up through the field and win this thing? That’s right Rowdy (his nickname) nation, all for you, baby.”

The victory at Richmond in the second event of the 10-race Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, gives Busch and his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota an automatic berth in the second round, which will begin after next weekend’s event on the infield road course at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The win was Busch’s sixth at the Richmond short track and gave him a season sweep at the Virginia track. It was also his sixth win of the season and the 50th of his Cup career.

Finishing second was Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick, a seven-time winner in 2018. That podium finish comes a week after he crashed out of the Playoffs-opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“Too close for my comfort,” Busch, who had watched a sizable lead shrink over the final 10 laps but who survived to join last weekend’s winner, Brad Keselowski to being locked into round 2, said. “I thought we were a little bit better than that on the long run. I know (Kevin) Harvick, that’s kind of his specialty, but we had a really, really good race car tonight.”

“I started driving him back down there at the end,” Harvick said of Busch, “but, just a good night. You want to win but I think this has been one of our worst race tracks and we were able to have a good night.”

Third at RR was Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing, the series’ defending champion.

“We were kind of used up at the end,” Truex, who led a race-best 163 laps, said. “Man, I don’t know what we’ve got to do to win this race. We’ve probably led more than anyone here ever who’s not won it. It’s crazy.”

Rounding out the top five were Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports and Aric Almirola of Stewart-Haas.

Harvick started from the pole and held the lead until he was passed by Truex Jr. 41 laps into the race. Truex hung onto the lead and went on to win the first of the races three stages. He then led all the laps in the second to win that stage.

A week ago in the Playoffs opener at Las Vegas, wrecks took a big toll on the field of contenders. At Richmond, none of the 16 contenders wrecked.

In trouble after Saturday night’s race were Clint Bowyer, seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson, Erik Jones and Denny Hamlin. They will head to the Charlotte race – after which the Playoff Field will be trimmed to 12 drivers – below the cutline and likely needing a victory to advance.

Next weekend’s race in Charlotte shapes up as an X-factor event as the event will be the first ever at the CMS “roval”.

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race – Federated Auto Parts 400

Richmond Raceway

Richmond, Virginia

Saturday, September 22, 2018 

  1. (11) Kyle Busch (P), Toyota, 400.
  2. (1) Kevin Harvick (P), Ford, 400.
  3. (3) Martin Truex Jr. (P), Toyota, 400.
  4. (18) Chase Elliott (P), Chevrolet, 400.
  5. (6) Aric Almirola (P), Ford, 400.
  6. (26) Austin Dillon (P), Chevrolet, 400.
  7. (9) Kyle Larson (P), Chevrolet, 400.
  8. (21) Jimmie Johnson (P), Chevrolet, 400.
  9. (7) Brad Keselowski (P), Ford, 400.
  10. (24) Clint Bowyer (P), Ford, 400.
  11. (8) Erik Jones (P), Toyota, 400.
  12. (13) Alex Bowman (P), Chevrolet, 400.
  13. (15) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 400.
  14. (12) Joey Logano (P), Ford, 399.
  15. (16) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 399.
  16. (2) Denny Hamlin (P), Toyota, 399.
  17. (38) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 399.
  18. (5) Kurt Busch (P), Ford, 398.
  19. (4) Ryan Blaney (P), Ford, 398.
  20. (19) William Byron #, Chevrolet, 398.
  21. (14) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 398.
  22. (20) Paul Menard, Ford, 397.
  23. (40) David Ragan, Ford, 397.
  24. (23) Michael McDowell, Ford, 397.
  25. (17) Matt Kenseth, Ford, 396.
  26. (10) Cole Custer(i), Ford, 396.
  27. (25) Bubba Wallace #, Chevrolet, 395.
  28. (29) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 395.
  29. (28) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 394.
  30. (22) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 394.
  31. (39) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 394.
  32. (31) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 393.
  33. (30) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 392.
  34. (27) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 391.
  35. (35) Joey Gase(i), Chevrolet, 388.
  36. (36) * Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 387.
  37. (32) * Jeffrey Earnhardt, Toyota, 387.
  38. (34) Alon Day, Toyota, 383.
  39. (37) * Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, 382.
  40. (33) * Gray Gaulding, Ford, Brakes, 289.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  103.152 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 54 Mins, 30 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.777 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  3 for 23 laps.

Lead Changes:  16 among 8 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   K. Harvick (P) 1-40; M. Truex Jr. (P) 41-103; B. Keselowski (P) 104; M. Truex Jr. (P) 105-203; A. Almirola (P) 204; C. Elliott (P) 205-213; B. Keselowski (P) 214-243; C. Elliott (P) 244-268; A. Bowman (P) 269; M. Truex Jr. (P) 270; R. Stenhouse Jr. 271-272; B. Keselowski (P) 273-286; Kyle Busch (P) 287-327; B. Keselowski (P) 328; Kyle Busch (P) 329-342; B. Keselowski (P) 343-363; Kyle Busch (P) 364-400.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  M. Truex Jr. (P) 3 times for 163 laps; Kyle Busch (P) 3 times for 92 laps; B. Keselowski (P) 5 times for 67 laps; K. Harvick (P) 1 time for 40 laps; C. Elliott (P) 2 times for 34 laps; R. Stenhouse Jr. 1 time for 2 laps; A. Almirola (P) 1 time for 1 lap; A. Bowman (P) 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 78,4,2,9,41,10,20,88,11,22

Stage #2 Top Ten: 78,4,10,9,2,88,3,48,42,22

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, September 22 2018
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