Kyle Busch wins at Richmond from rear of field

Sunday 23rd September, 2018 - 5:13pm

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The #18 of Kyle Busch won at Richmond Raceway from the final row of the grid

Kyle Busch has won the second of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff races with a measured drive from the rear of the field at Richmond Raceway.

The #18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota started 39th (second last) after being sent to the rear for post-qualifying repairs, but Kyle Busch drove through the field and into Victory Lane at the 0.75mi short-track.

It came after a late duel with Brad Keselowski (#2 Team Penske Ford), the pair exchanging blows at the head of the field before Kyle Busch out-foxed him and made the decisive lead change on Lap 364 of 400.

Keselowski fell back as pole-sitter Kevin Harvick (#4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford) closed up on Car #18 late in the piece, but could not get to bumper of the Camry to make a move.

Harvick finished second while Martin Truex Jnr (#78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota) completed the top three.

Chase Elliott (#9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet) ran strong for much of the night, finishing fourth after leading early in Stage 3.

Aric Almirola (#10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford) was fifth, from Austin Dillon (#3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet), Kyle Larson (#42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet), and Jimmie Johnson (#48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet).

Keselowski slipped to ninth and Clint Bowyer (#14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford) rounded out the top 10.

Truex Jnr swept the opening two stages in dominant fashion after swiftly moving by Harvick on the inside on Lap 41.

Denny Hamlin (#11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) ran high in the order, but his race unraveled mid-way through Stage 1 when he was tapped into a near spin by Ricky Stenhouse Jnr (#17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford) and had to make a green-flag pit stop, dropping a lap down.

However, on fresh rubber, Hamlin was able to un-lap himself and get back into the top 10 with a ninth place result in Stage 1, while Kyle Busch scythed his way up to 13th.

Truex Jnr rocketed away on the Stage 2 restart and didn’t look back, winning ahead of Harvick and Almirola, who made up a handful of positions in the first full round of stops.

Elliott and Keselowski were fourth and fifth respectively, while Joey Logano (#22 Team Penske Ford) made it back into the top 10 after a green-flag stop in the middle of Stage 2.

Winning the race off pit road at the end of Stage 2 was the #9 of Elliott, while an uncontrolled tyre in the stop meant Truex Jnr copped a penalty and was sent to the rear.

As the final stage got underway, Harvick gave chase to leader Elliott as Keselowski and Almirola both moved in front of the #4.

Keselowski then drove around the outside of the #9 for the lead on Lap 214.

Deeper into the stage, Elliott’s car came back on and he re-gained the lead on Lap 244, cutting underneath Keselowski.

On Lap 270, a number of the front running cars dived into the pits for a round of green-flag stops, but leader Elliott came in a lap later than those around him and lost out.

Keselowski inherited the top spot ahead of Kyle Busch, who steadily closed in on the #2 and then drove by him on Lap 287 for the lead.

The first and only unscheduled Caution of the race for an incident came on Lap 325 when Jeffrey Earnhardt (#96 Gaunt Brothers Racing Toyota) spun off Turn 2 after being tapped by Matt Kenseth (#6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford).

It proved disastrous for Hamlin, who had just dived into the pits and lost significant time, falling outside the top 15.

Keselowski immediately challenged for the lead on the restart and drove around the outside of Kyle Busch on Lap 343 as the top two duked it out.

Kyle Busch went back to the lead on Lap 364 and would stay there, as Harvick picked up second when Keselowski began to fall backwards and his hopes of a fourth straight win faded along with the life in his rear tyres.

Despite his efforts in the last laps, Harvick fell 0.7s short of race winner Kyle Busch at the line, whose victory buys him a ticket into the next round of the Playoffs.

The win is the 50th of his career and seventh of the season.

Hamlin finished 16th and is 29 points off 12th position with a race left in the Round of 16.

Points leader Truex Jnr is safe in the Round of 12 along with Kyle Busch and Las Vegas winner Keselowski.

Charlotte Motor Speedway’s ‘Roval’ hosts the next race on the weekend of September 28-30 (local time).

Race highlights

Results: Federated Auto Parts 400, Richmond Raceway

Pos Num Driver Make Laps Led Status
1 18 Kyle Busch Toyota 400 92 Running
2 4 Kevin Harvick Ford 400 40 Running
3 78 Martin Truex Jnr Toyota 400 163 Running
4 9 Chase Elliott Chevrolet 400 34 Running
5 10 Aric Almirola Ford 400 1 Running
6 3 Austin Dillon Chevrolet 400 0 Running
7 42 Kyle Larson Chevrolet 400 0 Running
8 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 400 0 Running
9 2 Brad Keselowski Ford 400 67 Running
10 14 Clint Bowyer Ford 400 0 Running
11 20 Erik Jones Toyota 400 0 Running
12 88 Alex Bowman Chevrolet 400 1 Running
13 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jnr Ford 400 2 Running
14 22 Joey Logano Ford 399 0 Running
15 31 Ryan Newman Chevrolet 399 0 Running
16 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota 399 0 Running
17 19 Daniel Suarez Toyota 399 0 Running
18 41 Kurt Busch Ford 398 0 Running
19 12 Ryan Blaney Ford 398 0 Running
20 24 William Byron Chevrolet 398 0 Running
21 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 398 0 Running
22 21 Paul Menard Ford 397 0 Running
23 38 David Ragan Ford 397 0 Running
24 34 Michael McDowell Ford 397 0 Running
25 6 Matt Kenseth Ford 396 0 Running
26 51 Cole Custer Ford 396 0 Running
27 43 Bubba Wallace Chevrolet 395 0 Running
28 13 Ty Dillon Chevrolet 395 0 Running
29 47 AJ Allmendinger Chevrolet 394 0 Running
30 37 Chris Buescher Chevrolet 394 0 Running
31 95 Regan Smith Chevrolet 394 0 Running
32 72 Corey LaJoie Chevrolet 393 0 Running
33 15 Ross Chastain Chevrolet 392 0 Running
34 32 Matt DiBenedetto Ford 391 0 Running
35 00 Joey Gase Chevrolet 388 0 Running
36 99 Landon Cassill Chevrolet 387 0 Running
37 96 Jeffrey Earnhardt Toyota 387 0 Running
38 23 Alon Day Toyota 383 0 Running
39 66 Timmy Hill Toyota 382 0 Running
40 52 Gray Gaulding Ford 289 0 Brakes

Playoff standings

Pos Driver Pts Cutoff (+/-) Playoff race wins Playoff stage wins
1 Kyle Busch 2125 Clinch 1 0
2 Brad Keselowski 2111 Clinch 1 1
3 Martin Truex Jnr 2141 Clinch 0 3
4 Kevin Harvick 2113 +57 0 0
5 Joey Logano 2081 +25 0 0
6 Aric Almirola 2079 +23 0 0
7 Kyle Larson 2073 +17 0 0
8 Kurt Busch 2071 +15 0 0
9 Chase Elliott 2066 +10 0 0
10 Austin Dillon 2066 +10 0 0
11 Alex Bowman 2061 +5 0 0
12 Ryan Blaney 2060 +4 0 0
13 Clint Bowyer 2056 -4 0 0
14 Jimmie Johnson 2054 -6 0 0
15 Erik Jones 2039 -21 0 0
16 Denny Hamlin 2031 -29 0 0

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