After winning two weeks in a row Kyle Busch(18) had a poor qualifying run at Richmond Raceway. The season’s third short track race and first night race runs 400 laps around the “D” shaped oval. Kyle Busch is the winningest active driver at Richmond. So he knows his way around the .75 mile racetrack. Starting 32nd did not prove to be a problem. It took only 34 laps for Busch to drive his way into the top 10.
Martin Truex Jr.(78) won the pole and led the first 38 laps. Until, last year’s winner of this race, Joey Logano(22) drove to the front of the field. Stages 1 and 2 at Richmond are 100 laps. With the final segment of the race 200 laps.
Near the end of the first Stage, Kurt Busch(41) drove into second. His teammate Aric Almirola(10) moved to third as Ford continued the early season dominance. Kyle Busch ended the first 100 lap run in sixth place.
Stage 1 Results
* Ford Fusion Drivers
Kurt Busch and Logano started on the front row after stage ending pit stops. On the restart, Busch shot ahead into turn 1 and took the lead. As the laps wound down in Stage 2 another Stewart-Hass driver took over the top spot. Clint Bowyer(14), the Martinsville winner, showed he likes short track racing.
With seven laps to go, Logano regained the lead and it was four Fusions in the first four positions under the Stage ending green and white checkered flag.
Stage 2 Results
* Ford Fusion Drivers
The four Ford returned to the front after pitting for fresh tires and fuel. Again, Kurt Busch drove off into turn 1 ahead of Logano. Busch held the lead until he was passed by Bowyer with 150 laps to go. As the race continued accident-free pitstops appeared likely to determine who would drive away with the win.
Leaders began pitting on lap 271. Seven laps later everyone had made their stops. The front pack settled out with Truex Jr. in the lead. With Bowyer, Kevin Harvick(4), Kyle Busch, and Kyle Larson(42) rounding out the top five. With 100 laps to go, Logano had moved back into the fifth spot.
Kevin Harvick took the lead with 77 laps to go as Truex Jr.’s tires went away. Truex told his crew that racing to put a lap on Ryan Newman(31) wore out his rear tires.
Last Pit Stops
Baring a late caution, the final pit stops of the night began with 71 laps to go. When Denny Hamlin(11) pitted with 65 laps to go, all the leaders had made their stops. After everyone left the pits, it was Truex once again in the lead. Bowyer, Harvick, and Kyle Busch returned back to second through fourth. Logano held down the fifth spot.
With 47 to go, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.(17) and Ryan Blaney(12) got together bringing out the first accident related caution of the evening. The yellow flag pit stops allowed everyone to make adjustments and get new Goodyear tires for the sprint to the finish. Truex, Bowyer, Harvick, Logano, and Hamlin exited the pits first through fifth respectively.
With 31 laps to go, Jamie McMurray hit the wall and Ryan Newman got caught up in the aftermath. Caution waved again. This time pit stops shuffled the front of the pack. Kyle Busch finally took the lead. Hamlin, Harvick, Truex, and Brad Keselowski(2) made up the top five.
Wrecks Breed Wrecks
The race went back to green with 22 laps to go. Kyle Busch pulled away as cars went three and four wide behind the leaders. Truex moved to second. Remarkably Truex has never won a short track race in his Cup career. Busch was going for his third in a row.
With 11 to go, David Ragan(38) spun to bring out another yellow flag. Busch exited first. Truex had trouble on his stop with the jackman failing to raise the car fully as the crew attempted to change left side tires. It cost him precious track position as he exited in 11th place.
The race started with six laps to go and with four to go the yellow was displayed again as Stenhouse hit the wall. Setting up overtime to decide the winner.
Kyle Busch and Hamlin on the front row. Chase Elliott(9) and Harvick on the row behind. As the cars come to take the green. The white and checkered will follow providing they can complete a lap without another caution.
Kyle Busch held on for the win. Elliott finished second for the eight time in his career, still looking for that elusive first victory.
Busch’s three in a row tie him with Harvick for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series lead in wins for 2018. Last year’s Cup Champion Martin Truex Jr. finished 14th after struggling on his final pitstop.
Next Sunday It’s Dega
Next week it’s off to Talladega Speedway for the GIECO 500. From two short tracks in a row to the longest speedway on the circuit. It’s can’t miss TV on Fox, with the green scheduled to drop shortly after 2:00 pm on Sunday.
Results of the 2018 Spring Race at Richmond Raceway
|14||78||Martin Truex Jr.||3.186||402|
|23||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||12.764||402|
|25||43||Darrell Wallace Jr.||-1||401|
|4||Martin Truex Jr.||280||1|
|Playoff Cut Line|
|19||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.*||176||0|
* Ford Fusion Drivers