Kyle Busch Wins Once More at Richmond

It was the one and only night race of the NASCAR Playoffs at short-track Richmond International Raceway and once again it was Kyle Busch who scored the checkered flag with the signature bow capping off the 2018 sweep at the Viriginia track while punching his ticket to the Round of 12. After starting in the back due to an unapproved modification (Busch got into the wall in qualifying forcing the team to go to work on the car), Busch charged to the front and into the top ten by the time the final stage rolled around and had a good enough car to pass the No. 2 of Brad Keselowski for the lead. It was also the 50th win in the Cup Series for Busch, accomplishing the major feat in his 14th season.

Busch battled with long-storied rival Keselowski for about 20 or so laps when he was able to make the pass for the lead on lap 364 then hold off the charging Kevin Harvick to secure the win in the Federated Auto Parts 400. Busch also recorded his 6th win at Richmond in his career in the Cup Series joining a club that includes Rusty Wallace, Darrell Waltrip and David Peason. Martin Truex Jr. swept both stages and led a race-high 163 laps, but an unctrolled tire penalty hampered their chance to take that short-track monkey off their back. The 78 team did fight back for a third-place finish and has officially locked themselves into the second round on points after sweeping the two stages. It also marked the first time this season where the “Big Three” finished 1-2-3 on the day.

“I thought we were a little bit better than that on the long runs, I know Harvick, that’s kind of his specialty. We had a really, really good race car tonight. The guys did a great job coming back from a dismal qualifying effort and preparing a really, really good race car for us tonight. We started dead last, came up through the field and won this thing. I put us a little bit behind yesterday in qualifying, and the guys did a great job rallying to put it together. Hey, I finally won a fall race at Richmond! What do you know?, ” Busch concluded.

Chase Elliott had a solid run and a 4th place finish and even put the No. 9 car out front for 34 laps. Austin Dillon had himself a great run and finds himself ahead of the cut-off spot with one race remaining in the round scoring a 6th place finish at Richmond one spot ahead of Kyle Larson who was the runner-up at the track in the spring. Jimme Johnson had his best finish in weeks with a top ten result and an 8th place finish, although he stills finds himself a few points behind the cut-off line heading to the Charlotte Roval.

On the Roval next week, the sense around the garage from all drivers is they are terrified. No one knows what to expect as its the first time ever running the track at Charlotte Motor Speedway. A total wildcard. Four drivers can feel confident as three have advanced, and Harvick who was the runner-up on Saturday was very pleased with the run specifically citing next week’s race. For drivers like Denny Hamlin and Erik Jones needing a great run in order to advance, they better hope lady luck is on their side next Sunday. This race will likely benefit the road course specialists like AJ Allemendigner, but fortunately for Hamlin he’s had success in the past on the road courses and Chase Elliott is another driver to watch recording a win at Watkins Glen earlier this season. However, this isn’t your typical road course, it’s a one of a kind unique track and having it as the cut-off race before the Round of 12 just increases the odds and craziness around the Roval. You won’t want to miss that race next Sunday.

Updated Playoff Standings heading into Charlotte Roval:

  1. Kyle Busch (advanced)
  2. Brad Keselowski (advanced)
  3. Martin Truex Jr. (advanced)
  4. Kevin Harvick +57
  5. Joey Logano +25
  6. Aric Almirola +23
  7. Kyle Larson +17
  8. Kurt Busch +15
  9. Chase Elliott +10
  10. Austin Dillon +10
  11. Alex Bowman +5
  12. Ryan Blaney +4
  13. Clint Bowyer -4
  14. Jimmie Johnson -6
  15. Erik Jones -21
  16. Denny Hamlin -29

Follow Frank Pimentel on Twitter: @FrankBostonTank


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