Kyle Busch came from the rear of the field to score his sixth win at Richmond Raceway in Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400.
Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. followed Busch across the finish line marking the first time all season the “Big 3” swept the first three finishing positions.
Busch had to start at the rear of the field for unapproved adjustments after qualifying. But he was still able to fight his way to the front and led 92 laps on his way to his seventh win of the season and 50th career Cup win.
Busch had to battle Brad Keselowski, who was trying for a fourth straight win, in a late duel before finally getting ahead and then holding off Harvick.
“That was too close for my comfort,” Busch said. “I thought we were a little bit better there on the long run. 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 that dismal qualifying effort and prepared a really, really good race car for us tonight. Being able to start dead last, come up through the field and win this thing.”
Chase Elliott and Aric Almirola rounded out the top five.
Austin Dillon, Kyle Larson, Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski and Clint Bowyer completed the first 10 finishers.
Truex Jr. won the first two stages. Stage Points
Bowyer, Johnson, Erik Jones and Denny Hamlin are the bottom four drivers in the Playoffs.
The NASCAR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series closes out the opening round of the Playoffs next Sunday with a first-ever visit to the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.
How Busch Won: The battle with Keselowski was the best racing of the night and the duo raced side-by-side for several laps in the late going. Busch as finally able to get the top spot 37 laps from the finish and pulled away but Harvick closed late ultimately coming up short of challenging for the lead.
Who Had a Good Day: Harvick scored his 11th top-two finish of 2018 and sixth top-two finish at Richmond…Truex Jr. led the most laps at 163, the fourth time in the last five races at Richmond he led the most laps but is still winless at the track (Read More)…Elliott finished top-five in both races at Richmond in 2018 and scored his seventh top-10 finish in the last nine races of 2018.
Who Had a Bad Day: Hamlin got tagged by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. early in the race and miraculously did not spin out. But the three-time Richmond winner struggled to a 16th-place finish…Jones had a penalty for a pit road miscue that put him in catch-up mode all night and he finished 11th…Joey Logano had his chance to win impacted by an uncontrolled tire penalty and finished 14th.
What Else Happened: As has been the case in recent Cup races at Richmond, long green flag runs were the order of the day. That meant pit road was going to be a major focal point with no room for error under green flag pit stops but a number of teams couldn’t avoid mistakes. Uncontrolled tire penalties and pit road speeding took a toll on a group of drivers that had to play catch up and could not get back to compete despite having good cars.
Quotable: “That’s right, Rowdy nation. All for you, baby,” Kyle Busch after winning Saturday night.
Notables: The win was the first for Busch in a Richmond fall race…Johnson had his best finish since finishing eighth at Pocono in June…This is the first time since 1998 that two drivers (Kyle Busch, Harvick) have seven wins through 28 races in a season.