Richmond NASCAR Cup Series Ends with Wild Overtime Finish

Denny Hamlin pulls off the improbable win after a late caution sends Richmond into overtime.

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Richmond Raceway, Richmond, VA — March 31, 2024

The 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season has been filled with unpredictable finishes and premium on-track competition, producing five different winners in six races. Plus, the series has seen five different driver point standings leaders through the first six races as well, with Joe Gibbs Racing’s veteran Martin Truex Jr. currently out front of the standings by a mere five points over his teammate Ty Gibbs in second.

This season, the NASCAR Cup Series has produced an average of 13.0 lap leaders per race in the first six races of the year – tied with 2011 for the series-most average number of lap leaders through the first six races of a season in the Modern Era (1972-2024).

The NASCAR Cup Series is averaging 31.33 lead changes per race through the first six races of the 2024 season, the second-most in the Modern Era (1972-2024) behind only the 2011 season with 31.50.

The 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season has produced 503 Green Flag Passes for the Lead – the most through the first six races of the year since the inception of the stat in 2005, surpassing the previous record of 378 Green Flag Passes for the Lead through the first six races set in 2022.

The 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season has produced 32,204 Total Green Flag Passes—the most through the first six races of the year since the stat was inception in 2005. This surpasses the previous record of 30,451 Total Green Flag Passes through the first six races set last season.

Since the inception of the Overtime Finish in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2005, the 2024 season is just the second year the first six races on the schedule did not finish with Overtime, joining the 2021 season.

This weekend at Richmond Raceway expect the competition statistics to keep continuing to progress. Last season, the spring Richmond Raceway Cup race set a new track record for Green Flag Passes for the Lead with 35, and both races last season set the highest two Total Green Flag Passes records on short tracks in the series with 3,816 (spring) and 3,909 (fall); just ahead of the 2024 Bristol Motor Speedway race a few weeks ago with 3,589 (third-most).

With all that said. Rain is in the forecast for Easter Sunday night. The use of wet weather tires is a possibility. How that will affect the race and competition could be a factor.

Richmond Raceway

At Richmond Raceway, the NASCAR Cup Series prepares for the close, beating, and banging racing the fans love at short tracks. Originally known as the Atlantic Rural Exposition Fairgrounds, Richmond Raceway held its first race in 1946 as a half-mile dirt track.

The first NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond Raceway was held on April 19, 1953, and was won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Lee Petty, who had an average speed of 45.535 mph.

The Richmond Raceway track surface was changed from dirt to asphalt between races in 1968. In total, Richmond Raceway has hosted the NASCAR Cup Series 134 times producing 58 different pole winners and 54 different race winners.

Active Richmond Race Winners Wins Season
Kyle Busch 6 2018 sweep, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009
Denny Hamlin 4 2022, 2016, 2010, 2009
Martin Truex Jr 3 2021, 2019 sweep
Kyle Larson 2 2023, 2017
Brad Keselowski* 2 2020, 2014
Joey Logano* 2 2017, 2014
Chris Buescher* 1 2023
Alex Bowman 1 2021

*Ford Mustang Dark Horse Drivers

That list contains a number of past champions on long winless streaks who hope to use Richmond to break the string.

Driver Track Date Races Since Last Win Attempts Since
Brad Keselowski Talladega Sunday, April 25, 2021 104 104
Chase Elliott Talladega Sunday, October 02, 2022 47 40
Joey Logano Atlanta Sunday, March 19, 2023 37 37
Kyle Busch Gateway Sunday, June 04, 2023 27 27
Martin Truex Jr Loudon Monday, July 17, 2023 22 22

 

Today’s Race

Kyle Larson starts from the pole for today’s race. His teammate, Chase Elliott, lines up beside him on the front row. Drivers will run 400 laps with Stages of 70/160/170 laps.

Kyle Larson is the defending champion of the race, and interestingly, Josh Berry drove the #9 car to a second-place finish while substituting for the injured Chase Elliott in the spring of 2023.

The race will start on wet-weather tires. The treaded tires actually have good grip on wet asphalt. That translates to faster wear. NASCAR controls the pit stops under conditions like these. Changes between treaded tires and slicks will occur under non-competitive caution stops.

Stage One

The green flag waved under a light sprinkle. Kye Larson(5) led for two laps. Chase Elliott(9) took a turn at the front until Larson regained the top spot, and Alex Bowman(48) moved past Elliott as the Hendrick cars showed their bumpers to the remainder of the field.

Bubba Wallace(23) and Martin Truex Jr.(19) broke up the teammate train. Wallace moved to second, and Truex took over the fourth spot, dropping Elliott to fifth.

NASCAR informed the teams a competition caution would be waved after 30 laps, and all teams would be required to switch back to slicks. Positions are frozen at the point of caution, with Larson, Wallace, Elliott, Bowman, and Ross Chastain holding the top five positions.

Teams were also allowed to make adjustments during the stop. Wet Weather Tires have no stager (same height on both sides of the car). So when staggered slicks go on, adjustments to suspension heights have to be made.

The restart came with 22 laps to go in Stage One. Larson and Wallace drove side-by-side for five laps until Larson prevailed. The biggest mover in the Stage was Josh Berry(4). He started 30th and drove into the top ten over the first 70 laps.

Kyle Busch(8) started 15th and dropped out of the top 25 during the same time period.

Berry tagged the rear of Daniel Suarez’s(99) car in turn one and spun the Atlanta photo finish winner, bringing out the caution with six laps to go in the Stage.

With the yellow flag freezing the field, NASCAR used the slow down to bring out the jet dryers on the pit road to finish removing moisture from the pavement.

Stage One Results

POS CAR DRIVER POINTS
1 5 Kyle Larson 10
2 23 Bubba Wallace 9
3 48 Alex Bowman 8
4 19 Martin Truex Jr. 7
5 22 Joey Logano* 6
6 38 Todd Gilliland* 5
7 9 Chase Elliott 4
8 1 Ross Chastain 3
9 4 Josh Berry* 2
10 41 Ryan Preece* 1

*Ford Mustang Dark Horse Drivers

Stage Two

The race off pit road went to Larson. Followed by Wallace, Bowman, Truex, and Elliott. Wallace spun his tires on the restart and Larson drove away for the lead. Two-by-two racing continued through the field as drivers jockeyed for the preferred lower-line positions.

With 40 down in Stage Two, the top five had shuffled positions. Larson still led, Truex was up to second, followed by Berry, Joey Logano(22), and Wallace.

Logano puts together his best finish of the year at Richmond / NASCAR Photo

Green flag pit stops began with 107 laps to go in the Stage. Josh Berry was the first of the leaders to come down pit road. Pitting before the halfway point of the Stage will require a second service stop before the green and white checkered flag waves. Larson and a few other drivers opted to stay out and make just one stop during the 160-lap segment.

Larson, Wallace, and Bowman chose the one-stop strategy. They began pitting with 80 laps to go in the Stage. Larson returned to the race track just ahead of Truex, the new leader. Berry, Logano, Christopher Bell(20), and Chris Buescher(17) made up the new top five.

Larson was running seventh after his stop and will inherit the lead when those on the two-stop strategy have to pit in a few laps.

All the different team plans went out the window when Kyle Busch hit the turn-two wall, bringing out the yellow flag with 61 laps to go in the Stage. The damage to Busch’s machine was minor. Everyone came to pit road for fuel and tires, setting up a sprint to the Stage finish.

Truex, Logano, Berry, Bell, Buescher, and Larson led the pack off the pit road.

The drivers seemed content to run the remaining laps of the Stage without much drama. Truex held the top spot, getting his first Stage win of the year. Larson advanced to fourth.

Josh Berry at Richmond Raceway / NASCAR Photo

Stage Two Results

POS CAR DRIVER POINTS
1 19 Martin Truex Jr. 10
2 4 Josh Berry* 9
3 22 Joey Logano* 8
4 5 Kyle Larson 7
5 11 Denny Hamlin 6
6 20 Christopher Bell 5
7 17 Chris Buescher* 4
8 23 Bubba Wallace 3
9 24 William Byron 2
10 45 Tyler Reddick 1

*Ford Mustang Dark Horse Drivers

The Final Stage

Martin Truex has led 82 laps, Kyle Larson 145 laps. They will line up one-two to start the Final Stage of the race. Denny Hamlin(11), Logano, Bell, and Berry followed them off the pit road. A total of 20 cars remain on the lead lap for the final segment of the race.

Truex got the jump on Larson as Logano and Hamlin raced side-by-side for third. Logano finally secured the spot, pulling down in front of Hamlin. Larson is able to hang tight with Truex at the front. How will the pit stop strategy play out? It would be a good wager to suggest the top two will differ in their approach.

Green flag pit stops began on lap 286, and everyone seemed willing to follow suit as all teams completed service in the next 10 laps.

The leaders were mired in lapped traffic when they returned to the race track. Truex, Larson, and Hamlin were all within one second of each other. With 90 laps to go, Logano joined the party. Bubba Wallace ran fifth, three seconds back.

Truex led 228 laps of the 400 at Richmond / NASCAR Photo

Intervals at the front began to expand as tire wear began to become a factor. When the leaders decide to make their final pitstops, it should trigger another full-field service session. Truex, Larson, and Logano all pitted with 65 laps to go.

Larson beat Truex out of the pits. However, three laps later, Truex passed Larson and will be the leader when pit stops completely cycle through.

This time, Treux really began to stretch the lead, going over two seconds in front with 45 laps to go.

Larson’s car seemed to go away quicker after the last stop. Logano moved to second place with 32 laps to go. He trailed Truex by 3.5 seconds. Hamlin, who ran the longest before pitting and has the freshest tires, also passed Larson.

With 20 laps to go, Hamlin had caught Logano, and Truex was stuck in a pack of six lapped cars.

Ten laps from the checkered flag, Logano had closed to within a half-second of the leader. Hamlin’s tire advantage disappeared, and he began to drop off the pace.

Then suddenly, Bubba Wallace got into the back of Kyle Larson, sending him around. The yellow flag was displayed with two laps to go, sending the race into overtime.

With the extent of the tire falloff at the end of a long run, the leaders all came to pit road for fresh Goodyear rubber. Ironically, Wallace had trouble on his stop and came out 16th. Larson’s crew got him out fourth.

Hamlin was first off pit road. The lineup heading to the green had Hamlin and Truex on the front row, Logano and Larson behind them.

Hamlin got a great start and forced Truex high in turn one, driving off with the lead. Logano also passed but was unable to run down the leader. Larson and Truex banged doors off turn four on the final lap, with Larson taking third.

It was the Cup Series’ first overtime finish in 2024. Truex led for 228 laps, Larson for 145, and Hamlin for just 17 circuits, including the most important one.

NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Standings

Joey Logano’s strong finish moved him into 19th, just 14 points below the cut line. Martin Truex Jr. lead the points 18 more than Hamlin and 114 points above the cut.

RK DRIVER POINTS STATUS
1 Denny Hamlin 252 In Win(2)
2 William Byron 215 In Win(2)
3 Kyle Larson 256 In Win
4 Christopher Bell 219 In Win
5 Daniel Suarez 163 In Win
6 Martin Truex Jr. 270 +114
7 Ty Gibbs 236 +80
8 Ryan Blaney* 229 +73
9 Chase Elliott 209 +53
10 Ross Chastain 207 +51
11 Tyler Reddick 199 +43
12 Alex Bowman 193 +37
13 Chris Buescher* 185 +29
14 Kyle Busch 167 +11
15 Bubba Wallace 165 +9
16 Brad Keselowski* 163 +7
NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Cut Line
17 John Hunter Nemechek 156 -7
18 Chase Briscoe* 150 -13
19 Joey Logano* 149 -14
20 Austin Cindric* 133 -30
21 Michael McDowell* 130 -33
22 Erik Jones 129 -34
23 Josh Berry* 114 -49
24 Carson Hocevar 105 -58
25 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 102 -61
26 Todd Gilliland* 102 -61

*Ford Mustang Dark Horse Drivers

Results from the Cup Series Race at Richmond Raceway

POS CAR DRIVER BEHIND LAPS
1 11 Denny Hamlin 407
2 22 Joey Logano 0.269 407
3 5 Kyle Larson 0.628 407
4 19 Martin Truex Jr. 0.640 407
5 9 Chase Elliott 0.873 407
6 20 Christopher Bell 1.154 407
7 24 William Byron 1.520 407
8 6 Brad Keselowski 1.797 407
9 17 Chris Buescher 2.110 407
10 45 Tyler Reddick 2.114 407
11 4 Josh Berry 2.269 407
12 10 Noah Gragson 2.501 407
13 23 Bubba Wallace 2.714 407
14 43 Erik Jones 2.772 407
15 1 Ross Chastain 2.888 407
16 54 Ty Gibbs 2.918 407
17 48 Alex Bowman 5.844 407
18 14 Chase Briscoe 6.236 407
19 12 Ryan Blaney 6.438 407
20 8 Kyle Busch 7.410 407
21 38 Todd Gilliland 7.699 407
22 99 Daniel Suarez 7.894 407
23 2 Austin Cindric -1 406
24 3 Austin Dillon -1 406
25 42 John Hunter Nemechek -1 406
26 34 Michael McDowell -1 406
27 77 Carson Hocevar -1 406
28 41 Ryan Preece -1 406
29 16 Ty Dillon -1 406
30 31 Daniel Hemric -2 405
31 15 Kaz Grala -2 405
32 51 Justin Haley -2 405
33 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. -2 405
34 21 Harrison Burton -2 405
35 71 Zane Smith -3 404
36 7 Corey LaJoie -3 404