NASCAR Richmond: Kyle Busch beats main rivals Harvick and Truex

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Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch climbed from last on the grid to win the NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond, booking his place in the second round of the playoffs.

After he was sent to the back of the grid as a result of his team repairing damage picked up in qualifying, Busch finished stage one in 13th but had only climbed two more spots by the end of the second stage.

However, gaining ground early in stage three, a rapid green flag pitstop allowed Busch to vault to second place.

Exchanging the lead with Penske’s Brad Keselowski on several occasions in a close duel, Busch decisively seized first with 36 laps of the 400-lap race remaining.

Keselowski’s pace dropped significantly as his rear tyres lost performance in the closing laps. He slipped to ninth.

Busch’s win was his sixth career victory at Richmond. He led home a 1-2-3 for NASCAR’s so-called ‘Big Three’ drivers, ahead of Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr.

Harvick was a feature among the top three throughout the race, finishing the opening two stages in second place behind Truex.

Furniture Row Racing driver Truex had led 160 of the first 200 laps, but was demoted to the back of the field when he was issued an uncontrolled tyre penalty for his end of stage two pitstop.

Dropping to 17th, Truex’s gradually climbed back through the field.

His third place confirms his place in the second round of the playoffs on account of his points tally. He joins Las Vegas race-winner Keselowski and Busch as being assured a place with a race to spare.

Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott finished the race in fourth.

Having started in 18th place, Elliott recovered to his finishing position by the end of the opening stage.

Elliott now enters the final race of the opening playoffs round 10 points clear of the cut-off in ninth place, having started the weekend in the danger zone outside of the top 12 cars.

Aric Almirola and Austin Dillon both improved their chances of progressing further into the playoffs, finishing fifth and sixth respectively.

Ending the race in seventh and eighth, Chip Ganassi Racing driver Kyle Larson and Hendrick’s Jimmie Johnson battled throughout much of the final stage of the race.

Johnson is now 14th in the playoffs standings and six points adrift of the top 12. Clint Bowyer finished the race in 10th, recovering from a difficult qualifying, ahead of Erik Jones.

Jones had dropped to 24th at the start of stage two after he was issued a stop-go penalty when his Joe Gibbs Racing team left a wedge-adjuster attached to the car upon leaving the pitbox.

Denny Hamlin suffered a half-spin in the opening stage of the race after being tagged by Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

He finished a lap down in 16th after being wrong-footed by a late race caution, having already made his final pitstop along with 18th- and 19th-place finishers Kurt Busch and Ryan Blaney.

Result – 400 laps

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 2h54m30.s
2 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 0.777s
3 Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Racing Toyota 5.761s
4 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 6.591s
5 Aric Almirola Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 7.478s
6 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 7.727s
7 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 8.583s
8 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 8.960s
9 Brad Keselowski Team Penske Ford 10.573s
10 Clint Bowyer Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 10.642s
11 Erik Jones Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 11.391s
12 Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 14.056s
13 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Roush Fenway Racing Ford 15.100s
14 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford 1 Lap
15 Ryan Newman Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 1 Lap
16 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 1 Lap
17 Daniel Suarez Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 1 Lap
18 Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 2 Laps
19 Ryan Blaney Team Penske Ford 2 Laps
20 William Byron Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 2 Laps
21 Jamie McMurray Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 2 Laps
22 Paul Menard Wood Brothers Racing Ford 3 Laps
23 David Ragan Front Row Motorsports Ford 3 Laps
24 Michael McDowell Front Row Motorsports Ford 3 Laps
25 Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Racing Ford 4 Laps
26 Cole Custer Rick Ware Racing Ford 4 Laps
27 Darrell Wallace Jr. Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet 5 Laps
28 Ty Dillon Germain Racing Chevrolet 5 Laps
29 A.J. Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 6 Laps
30 Chris Buescher JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 6 Laps
31 Regan Smith Leavine Family Racing Chevrolet 6 Laps
32 Corey LaJoie TriStar Motorsports Chevrolet 7 Laps
33 Ross Chastain Premium Motorsports Chevrolet 8 Laps
34 Matt DiBenedetto Go FAS Racing Ford 9 Laps
35 Joey Gase StarCom Racing Chevrolet 12 Laps
36 Landon Cassill StarCom Racing Chevrolet 13 Laps
37 Jeffrey Earnhardt Gaunt Brothers Racing Toyota 13 Laps
38 Alon Day BK Racing Toyota 17 Laps
39 Timmy Hill MBM Motorsports Toyota 18 Laps
40 Gray Gaulding Rick Ware Racing Ford Brakes

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