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NASCAR Cup: Kyle Busch advances in playoffs with Richmond win

RICHMOND, VA – SEPTEMBER 22: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M’s Toyota, celebrates after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway on September 22, 2018 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

After dropping to the back for the start of the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway on Saturday, the second of the three-race first round of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, Kyle Busch drove to the front to secure his position in the second round.

“The M&M’S Camry was awesome,’ Busch said. “The guys did a great job coming back from a dismal qualifying effort and prepared a really good race car here for us tonight. And, being able to start dead last and come up through the field and win this thing, that’s right, Rowdy Nation. All for you, baby. I just wanted to go out there and win this thing – win this thing for M&M’S, win this thing for my team, Toyota, everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota. Obviously, it’s a whole team effort.”

The win was the seventh for Busch through the first 28 races of the season, including another win at Richmond earlier in the year.

The other 2018 seven-race winner, Kevin Harvick, finished second, and reigning champion Martin Truex Jr. was third.

“We were starting to track him (Busch) down there at the end,” Harvick said. “I needed about 25 more laps. I gotta thank everybody on our Jimmy John’s Ford. They did a great job on a weekend when we needed to do a great job with all the unknowns going into next week. It will be a fun weekend, but it will be kind of trial and error as we go through the weekend. It was a good night for us here at Richmond, and we did a good job on pit road, just came up a little bit short.”

With the third-place finish, Truex locked into the second round of the playoffs on points, joining Busch and Brad Keselowski as drivers already secured berths into the next round ahead of the unknowns of the upcoming Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, host to the final first-round event.

“Thanks to all you guys back in Denver working your butts off to bring these fast cars,” Truex said. “We’re moving on; that’s the name of the game, and hopefully, we’ll get the win when we really need it.”

Harvick and Truex combined to lead the first half of the 400-lap race. Harvick started on the pole and led the first 40 laps. Truex, then, led 163 laps en route to two 100-lap stage wins.

Busch didn’t crack the top-10 in the first half of the 400-lap race, but on lap 286, he took his first lead from Keselowski. Keselowski retook the top spot on lap 341, but on lap 362, Busch was back of front with his final lead of the race.

“Early on in the race, the first run of the race, especially when the track hasn’t quite cooled off, yet, you’re always kind of fighting those things of just not a lot of grip,” Busch said. “There through the middle part of the race, I think we really had a race car to contend for the win, and we kind of drove up there. We kept making up spots and making up ground, and I was surprised that it was going as fast as it was going.”

After losing the lead to Busch, Keselowski drifted back to ninth by the checkered flag.

Playoff drivers took all top-10 positions in the finishing order, with Chase Elliott and Aric Almirola rounding out the top-five. Finishing sixth through 10th were Austin Dillon, Kyle Larson, Jimmie Johnson, Keselowski and Clint Bowyer.

Erik Jones finished 11th, Alex Bowman was 12th, and Joey Logano finished 14th after multiple problematic pit stops throughout the race.

“We just were a little bit too loose most of the race, and then, we had a mistake on pit road that cost us probably six or seven spots,” Logano said. “That is just the things that you can’t have during the playoffs, but we will work through them. We are still in an okay spot. We are not in a good enough spot to not be concerned about next week totally, but it does put us in a decent position.”

Denny Hamlin was 16th after a near-incident early in the race. Kurt Busch and Ryan Blaney were the two lowest-finishing playoff drivers in 18th and 19th.

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Posted by on September 23, 2018. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,Monster Energy NASCAR Cup,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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