Kyle Busch Earns 50th Career NASCAR Cup Series Victory With Richmond Playoff Winby Hunter Thomas September 23, 2018 0 comments
RICHMOND, Va. – Kyle Busch started from the rear and led 92 laps on Saturday night in the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway en route to winning his seventh race of the season and the 50th of his career.
Due to unapproved adjustments following qualifying on Friday, Busch had to start from the rear of the field on Saturday. The driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 M&M’s Toyota didn’t reach the lead of the 400-lap event until lap 287, when he passed Brad Keselowski. For the remainder of the race, the two drivers swapped the lead on four occasions. Towards the end of the race, Kevin Harvick entered the battle, but Busch had too strong of a Toyota Camry to be overtaken.
“That was too close for my comfort,” Busch said. “I thought we were a little bit better than that on the long run. I know Harvick, that’s kind of his specialty, but we had a really, really good race car tonight. The M&M’s Camry was awesome. The guys did a great job coming back from a dismal qualifying effort and prepared a really good race car here for us tonight. And, being able to start dead last and come up through the field and win this thing, that’s right Rowdy nation. All for you baby.”
With the win, Busch sweeps Richmond’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series dates this season. Busch’s previous five wins at Richmond all came in the spring, so Saturday’s victory is his first for the track’s fall date. The win is the 50th of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career.
While Harvick started on the pole and had a strong Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Jimmy John’s New 9-Grain Wheat Sub Ford, he only led once and that was the first 40 laps of the race. In the end, Harvick was in the process of chasing Busch down, but time ran out, and he came up short to finish second.
“We were definitely gaining a little bit of ground,” Harvick said. “But we just ‑‑ we didn’t have enough time to get all the way to him. But our guys did a great job rebounding after last weekend and doing what we had to do this week to put ourselves in a good position for next week, so solid night.”
Martin Truex Jr. had by far the fastest car of the night. He led a race high of 163 laps, but a pit road penalty on lap 204 put the team behind, and he was never able to fully recover. Truex finished third in the Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota.
“If you start yelling and screaming at them they’re just going to do worse the next stop,” Truex said. “For me, I let Cole (Pearn, crew chief) and the guys in the pit handle it. I just do all I can do behind the wheel to get back to the front. That’s all you can do. Like I said, it was a good recovery. Their stops after that were all good. We had a new front changer this week and thought he did a really good job. Aside from the penalty, we were probably the fastest we’ve been on pit road in a while. That’s really encouraging for the playoffs and going down the stretch here when you need to win races off pit road and things like that.”
Chase Elliott and Aric Almirola were strong all night long as they finished fourth and fifth respectively. Completing the top-10 were Austin Dillon, Kyle Larson, Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski and Clint Bowyer.
There were three cautions during the Federated Auto Parts 400, and only one was for an accident. On lap 327, the caution came out after contact with Matt Kenseth sent Jeffrey Earnhardt spinning through Turn 2.
Following the Federated Auto Parts 400 on Saturday, Truex is the only non-Playoff winner that’s locked into the Round of 12. Harvick is well above the cutoff with one race to go. He’s up by 57 points; however, everyone else is only 25 to 4 points to the good. Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson, Erik Jones and Denny Hamlin are the four drivers currently below the cutoff.
The final race of the Round of 16 will be held at the new Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL on Sunday, September 30. Live coverage of the Bank of America ROVAL 400 will broadcast on NBC and the Performance Racing Network (PRN) at 2 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com
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