RICHMOND, Va. — While not the dominant driver of the night, Kyle Larson took the race lead when it mattered in overtime to win the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway.
Exiting pit road ahead of race leader Martin Truex Jr., Larson jumped ahead on the final restart to score his fifth career victory in his 137th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start.
“I was surprised at how good our car was tonight,” Larson said. “We weren’t as good at the No. 78 (Truex) which nobody really is at any race track. We kept our heads in it. Our pit crew was, oh my gosh, they were so spectacular all night. We gained spots or at least gained time on pit road. Especially that last stop, it was awesome. Can’t thank them enough, this win is all about the and this whole race team really. So, just having a blast this season. We’ve got four wins in the regular season, which is awesome, so hopefully we can go on into the Playoffs and make it through some rounds and hopefully get to Homestead if Irma doesn’t wash it away and go for a championship.”
Joey Logano finished runner-up and Ryan Newman rounded out the podium.
“Came up a little bit short overall. Yeah, it stings a little bit,” Logano said. “Last time we were sitting here (in the Richmond Raceway deadline room) after a race, it was after a win, and this time it’s after a second, which overall if you look at our Richmond overall for a season with the two races, you’d say, ‘That’s pretty good, a first and a second.’ But just overall, obviously it stings to come up one spot short and not be able to get into the playoffs. It is what it is. It’s reality, and we’ll move on.”
“Yeah, I mean on the last lap we were in the best running spot we were the whole race,” Newman said. “Good run for the Caterpillar Chevrolet. I sped on pit road the one time and put us back and then we had one bad pit stop, but other than that we had a great long run car. Struggled on the short runs and just continued to fight and the guys did a good job. It wasn’t easy.”
Kurt Busch and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top-five.
“Our Fords are fast and now we’re finding this handling balance,” Busch said. “I’m really proud of everybody at SHR for working hard, knowing we were kind of going into unknown territory, but we got it switched over and thanks to Doug Yates, Haas Automation, Tony Stewart, Gene Haas, Monster Energy. They’ve been with me the last six years and it’s great to see them as the entitlement sponsor of our series, but it’s great to carry their logo on our car and have all of their vendors at the track. We’re having a Monster time. We’re in the Playoffs and now we’re gonna go execute for these 10 weeks.”
“We both drove in really, really deep. When I got on the brakes, the splitter slammed down on the ground, shot me up the track into him,” Hamlin said, explaining what happened between him and Truex on the final lap. We weren’t racing for the win or anything. But it’s unfortunate. Didn’t want to get into him. He’s a great teammate of ours. But, yeah, tough day for our FedEx team. Overnight we messed it up pretty good. We struggled all day. Got a little bit better there at the end by just kind of going back to where we started the day. Definitely not a car that could contend.”
Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott rounded out the top-10.
Matt Kenseth led the field to the green flag at 7:49 p.m. He led the first 89 laps, before ceding the lead when he pitted under the second caution of the race. Teammate Kyle Busch, who opted not to pit and took over the lead, won the first stage.
Two laps after the Lap 109 restart, Larson drove underneath Busch to pass him for the lead in Turn 3. Busch took it back exiting Turn 2 on Lap 130. Truex assumed the race lead for the first time, overtaking Busch entering Turn 3, on Lap 154 and won the second stage.
He held the lead until Austin Dillon dumped Danica Patrick in Turn 1, and then lost it on pit road to Kyle Busch. However, he took it back going into Turn 3 on Lap 289.
While most cars started pitting with 88 laps to go, Truex waiting until 66 to go to make his original final stop, handing the lead to Dale Earnhardt Jr. Brad Keselowski ran him down on fresher tires and took the lead from him with 51 to go. Truex did the same to Keselowski with 46 to go. Derrike Cope’s crash in Turn 4 brought out the fifth caution of the race and set up the overtime finish.
Caution first flew on Lap 34 when Landon Cassill cut his right-rear tire and slammed the Turn 1 wall. The second came out on Lap 87 for, according to the NASCAR race report, “smoke.” The end of the first stage brought out the third caution on Lap 100. The end of the second stage brought out the fourth caution on Lap 200. Cope’s wreck in Turn 4 with two laps to go brought out the fifth and Truex’s wreck in Turn 1 on the final lap in overtime brought out the sixth that ended the race.
NUTS & BOLTS
The race lasted three hours, two minutes and 52 seconds, at an average speed of 99.417 mph. There were 13 lead changes among seven different drivers and seven cautions for 38 laps.
Truex leaves with a 20-point lead over Larson, as the points reset for the playoffs that commence next week.C1726_UNOFFRES