After making contact with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. mid-race, Martin Truex Jr. was able to rebound. He took the lead from his teammate Kyle Busch with 25 laps to go en route to his sixth victory of the season.
“Yeah, that’s unbelievable, that’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to me in my whole racing career,” Truex Jr said to MRN Radio. Thanks to all the fans coming out tonight, everyone at Bass Pro Shops; our Camary was really fast tonight. Just takes a lot of people to make this happen.”
“I felt good coming into the race. We’ve had a lot of heartbreakers over the years at Richmond and to come here to sweep this year, I guess it’s meant to be. Thanks to all of our guys. Toyota, TRD, Auto-Owners, all of our partners that let us do this. Everyone back at Joe Gibbs Racing, they’re building unbelievable racecars. I hope we can keep this up and we came here to get bonus points, and we sure did.”
Brad Keselowski qualified on the pole Friday afternoon, while Truex qualified eighth. Only one car had to go to the back and that was the No. 27 Quin Houff for unapproved adjustments.
Stage 1: Lap 1- Lap 100
It was clean and green for the first stage. Truex took the lead from pole-sitter Brad Keselowski on Lap 54 and held on to win Stage 1. There were no cautions.
Kyle Busch, Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Matt DiBenedetto, Chase Elliott, Erik Jones and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top-10 finishers for the first stage. One minor incident took place during the stage break. The No. 13 of Ty Dillon was too fast on pit road and the No. 36 of Matt Tifft was too fast as well. Kyle Busch assumed the race lead after pit stops.
Stage 2: Lap 108- Lap 200
One caution broke out during the second stage. On Lap 111, Alex Bowman was sent spinning around after contact with the No. 3 of Austin Dillon. A few laps before, Bowman made slight contact with Dillon. Under the caution, Joey Logano who was struggling all night received the free pass. Kurt Busch and Keselowski also made pit stops.
Stage 2 ended on lap 200 and Kyle Busch went on to win the stage. Truex, Hamlin, Jones, Keselowski, Ryan Newman, Harvick, Elliott, Bowyer and Johnson swept the top-10 spots for the second stage. Kurt Busch and William Byron were penalized on pit road for being too fast after stops.
Stage 3: Lap 209- Lap 400
Just two cautions took place in the final stage. On Lap 242, Reed Sorenson hit the wall on the backstretch. During his attempt at a pit stop, Jimmie Johnson missed his pit stall and had to come back down to complete his pit stop. Almirola was caught with a speeding penalty during stops.
Keselowski was able to take the lead on Lap 246 and led for 36 laps before Truex retook the lead on Lap 282. As the race was going smoothly, a major incident happened on Lap 316 when Stenhouse, on cold tires, accidentally made contact with race leader Truex. Truex went spinning around on the front stretch.
After the caution and pit stops, Kyle Busch assumed the lead again and was making his way around the track. However, Truex began to reel in his teammate as laps started to click away. With 25 to go, he was finally able to take the lead from Busch and eventually the win.
“I was just trying to stay out of the fence and tried to get it straightened out,” Truex added to MRN Radio. “Luckily we got a caution and ended up in a pretty good spot, and came down pit road. We had a pretty big lead there and we took advantage of it. From there, we just battled, had to pass the 11 (Hamlin), the 18 (Busch). I knew it was going to be really tough to get by both of them. They were strong all night long and track position was important. I don’t know if the 18 fell off on the long run or if we were a little better at the end, and made a move.”
Kyle Busch ended up in second after winning Stage 2 and leading the most laps with 202.
“We were a little bit off,” Busch told MRN Radio. “Just missed a little bit. We were pretty fast and led a lot of laps, but when we’re out front leading, he could keep close to me pretty well. That kind of worried me for a finish like that and wasn’t sure we would be able to hold him off. At the start of that last run, Denny (Hamlin) pressured me a little bit, so I tried to make sure to stay ahead of him and that’s when Martin started to come on. Martin was just on better tires there throughout the rest of the run, so I don’t know if I hurt my stuff or what. Great job to the team. Everybody on this MMS Camry did a great job. We can now just focus forward.”
With Truex winning and Kyle Busch finishing second, both are locked into the Round of 12. Kevin Harvick also clinched a spot in the next round.
Truex swept both Richmond races this year. This was his sixth victory of the season. He led three times for 109 laps for the 25th victory of his career.
There were five cautions for 32 laps and seven leaders among six lead changes.
UPDATE: Erik Jones’ car failed post-race inspection. He will be credited with a last-place finish and receive one point.
- Truex Jr, 2 wins, 2141 points
- Kevin Harvick, +69
- Kyle Busch, +66
- Brad Keselowski, +55
- Denny Hamlin, +54
- Joey Logano, +50
- Chase Elliott, +37
- Kyle Larson, +25
- Ryan Newman, +14
- Ryan Blaney, +8
- Aric Almirola, +3
- William Byron, +
Below the Cut Line
- Alex Bowman, -2
- Clint Bowyer. -4
- Kurt Busch, -14
- Erik Jones, -45
- Martin Truex Jr., led 109 laps, won Stage 1
- Kyle Busch, led 202 laps, won Stage 2
- Denny Hamlin
- Brad Keselowski, led 89 laps
- Ryan Newman
- Kyle Larson
- Kevin Harvick
- Clint Bowyer
- Daniel Suarez
- Jimmie Johnson
- Joey Logano
- Bubba Wallace
- Chase Elliott, one lap down
- Matt DiBenedetto, one lap down
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr, one lap down
- Aric Almirola, one lap down
- Ryan Blaney, one lap down
- Kurt Busch, two laps down
- David Ragan, two laps down
- Matt Tifft, three laps down
- Michael McDowell, three laps down
- Austin Dillon, four laps down
- Alex Bowman, four laps down
- William Byron, four laps down
- Daniel Hemric, four laps down
- Ty Dillon, four laps down
- Paul Menard, five laps down
- Landon Cassill, five laps down
- Corey LaJoie, five laps down
- Ryan Preece, six laps down
- Chris Buescher, seven laps down
- Austin Theriault, eight laps down
- J.J. Yeley, nine laps down
- Spencer Boyd, 12 laps down
- Quin Houff, 16 laps down
- Ross Chastain, OUT, Brakes
- Reed Sorenson, OUT, Crash
- Erik Jones, failed post-race inspection
Up Next: The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competes next week at Charlotte Motor Speedway, home of the Roval and the final race in the Round of 16.