Kyle Larson Wins In Overtime At Richmond; NASCAR Sets The Field For The 2017 Playoffs


By: Camille Jones/TheFourthTurn.com

Kyle Larson stole the victory in Saturday night’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 after the race went into NASCAR Overtime at Richmond Raceway. The 16-driver field for the 2017 Playoffs was also set after the checkered flag flew in Virginia.

Larson won the race off of pit road in his Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Target Chevrolet before the final restart, and he held off the field to claim the victory when the caution came out just after he took the white flag. Larson spent much of the race chasing a dominant Martin Truex Jr. who ultimately ended the event in the wall after contact from Denny Hamlin. Truex Jr.’s crash brought out the caution that ended the race and handed Larson his fifth victory in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

“I’ve got the greatest team out here and definitely the best pit crew,” said Larson. “That showed tonight. I can’t thank those guys enough. They were money all night long to gain spots. This win is a huge, congrats to them. The Target Chevy was pretty good all night. The No. 78 (Martin Truex Jr.) was definitely the best, but I thought I was second best for most of the runs but it came down to the last restart there and I got a good start. I spun my tires pretty bad and I was a little nervous, but we cleared him (Truex Jr) into (Turn) 1 and I was pretty excited about that. So, I can’t thank Target all of our partners enough. I’m really pumped for the Playoffs. We’ve got a great shot at the championship, I feel like, this year. So, I’m looking forward to it.”

Joey Logano finished in the second position. He earned his 12th top-10 finish of the season; however, he needed a win to claim a spot in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. The driver of the Team Penske No. 22 Shell Pennzoil/Red Cross Ford won at Richmond Raceway in the spring, but the win was encumbered due to an issue with the suspension. Logano was one of the Championship 4 that competed for the title at Homestead-Miami Speedway last season, but on Saturday night, his 2017 championship hopes came to an end with the runner-up finish. 

“Came up a little bit short overall,” Logano said. “Yeah, it stings a little bit. Last time we were sitting here 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 will move on.”

Ryan Newman gambled early on with staying out on the track on old tires, and the decision quickly shuffled him through the field. Newman also overcame a speeding penalty on lap 89 as well. By the end of the race, he was made up the track position and finished in the third position.

“Yeah, I mean on the last lap we were in the best running spot we were the whole race,” Newman said following the event. “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 finished in the fourth position, and Denny Hamlin finished fifth. Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott completed the top-10.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff field has been set. Martin Truex Jr. claimed the regular-season championship at Richmond Raceway after winning four races throughout the 26-race regular season. He won the regular-season championship by 95 points over Kyle Larson.

“Cars have been just lightning fast and team’s been doing a great job,” Truex Jr. said. “We’ve got a few little things we’ve got to work on, but all in all, I feel like we’re definitely one of the strongest teams, and hopefully we can just continue to perform at our ‑‑ at the level we’re capable of, and hopefully we don’t need those bonus points, but it’s going to be nice to have them, that’s for sure.”

The playoff field is made up of 16 drivers. Those contending for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship in 2017 will be Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne, Austin Dillon, Matt Kenseth and Jamie McMurray.

Drivers on the outside looking in include Clint Bowyer, Erik Jones and Joey Logano. They were on the bubble entering the night and had win, but they didn’t complete the feat, so they will not be contending for a championship.

The Playoffs for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series begin next weekend at Chicagoland Speedway. The Tales of the Turtles 400 will take place on Sunday, September 17 at 3 p.m. ET. Live coverage will be found on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN).

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