Martin Truex Jr. made it back-to-back wins in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs when he led a sweep of the top three positions for Joe Gibbs Racing in Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway.
Truex completed the Richmond season sweep when he got by teammate Kyle Busch with 26 laps to go and went on to take his sixth win of the season.
“I’m speechless, just an unbelievable job by all my guys,” Truex Jr. said. “To sweep Richmond finally is pretty awesome, as much as we’ve led here coming into this year, and just thanks to everybody. It’s pretty amazing.”
The only hiccup for Truex, who led 109 laps, in the race came on Lap 315 when Ricky Stenhouse Jr., on fresher tires, made contact and spun his No. 19 Toyota while he was in the lead. Truex remained in the top five and pitted under the caution and came out third behind leader Busch and Denny Hamlin.
“Luckily I didn’t hit anything,” Truex Jr. “I just tried to keep it off the fence, tried to get spun around and get going, and we ended up because we were pretty far up front, we got going in a pretty good spot and left pit road in a good position and then good adjustments at the end again by Cole (Pearn) and James and the guys.”
Busch and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top three for JGR. The fourth JGR driver Erik Jones crossed the finish line in fourth, but was credited with a last-place finish when his No. 20 Toyota failed post-race inspection.
See Also: No. 20 Fails Inspection
Truex and Busch won Stage 1 and 2, respectively.
“We led a lot of laps (202),” Busch said. “We were up front a lot. But when I was out front, he (Truex) could keep the closest distance to me. That kind of worried me for a finish like that in the long run.”
Pole-sitter Brad Keselowski, who led 89 laps, and Ryan Newman rounded out the top five.
See Also: Top Five for Newman
Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Daniel Suarez and Jimmie Johnson completed the top-10 finishers.
Both Busch and Harvick locked into the next round of the playoffs at least on points.
Larson (+25), Newman (+14), Ryan Blaney (+8), Aric Almirola (+3) and William Byron (+2) are eighth through 12th, respectively, in the standings above the cutoff. Alex Bowman (-2), Clint Bowyer (-4), Kurt Busch (-14) and Jones (-45) are below the cutoff heading into the final race of the Round of 16 next Sunday at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.
How Truex Jr. Won: Truex Jr. ran down Kyle Busch in the closing laps after getting by his teammate Denny Hamlin. Once Truex got close enough to Kyle Busch they both battled through lap traffic which eventually led to side-by-side racing. After finally getting by Busch he left his teammate behind to capture the win.
Who Had a Good Day: Hamlin finished third and this is his sixth top-three finish in the last nine races…Newman has now finished in the top 10 in the last three race of the 2019 season.
Who Had a Bad Day: Following Jones being moved to last place, Byron had the second-worst race of the Playoff contenders with a 24th-place finish after making contact with David Ragan on Lap 109 resulting in a tire rub…Alex Bowman finished in 23rd, the second worst finish for a playoff contender following contact with Austin Dillion on Lap 112.
What Else Happened: Heading into this weekend many drivers were looking to run the best race possible due to the “Wild Card” of the Roval next week. Even though Truex picked up the victory it was almost a different race for him after him and Stenhouse Jr made contact on Lap 315.
Quotable: “Really looking forward to next weekend. It’s going to be something it’s gotta be right? It’s do or die for several teams” Clint Bowyer’s thoughts on the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval next week
Notables: Truex Jr. scored his eighth playoff win…It was the 172nd career win for JGR.