Kyle Busch Battles From 32nd At Richmond To Win Third Consecutive NASCAR Cup Race


By: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com

RICHMOND, Va. – Kyle Busch capitalized on a NASCAR Overtime restart on Saturday night to win the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway after starting the race in 32nd.

Saturday’s victory was Busch’s fifth win at Richmond Raceway and his third series victory in a row. Busch entered the weekend coming off a win at Texas Motor Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway.

After a poor qualifying effort, Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Flavor Vote Toyota had to race his way from 32nd to the front of the field.

“It’s definitely cool we’ve won three in a row,” Busch said. “We did it a couple years ago and now I don’t know if you can shoot for four in a row. It’s hard to go to Talladega with that much of a winning streak and think that you can go to victory lane, but we’re going to go there anyway and give it a shot. We’ll see what we can do. Our guys are amazing. They’re awesome every week and I love racing with these guys and Joe Gibbs Racing.”

In the closing laps of the Toyota Owners 400, Busch maneuvered his way to the front of the field. On the final restart of the night in NASCAR Overtime, Busch, who led the field to the start-finish line left his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott in the dust to solidify the victory.

“The first run of the race we actually made really good ground,” Busch said. “I was really happy with the way our car took off there at the beginning of the race. As the night kind of wore on we just didn’t quite have that advantage to everybody. Everybody kind of gained and got a little better and we made some adjustments and changes to the car in order to try to help ourselves and it seemed to be better there. Then, the last couple runs were just short runs. Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and the guys making the right adjustments to the car to have it faster on the short run was where it was at.” 

Elliott finished second in his Hendrick Motorsports No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet after pulling off bold moves in the late-race restarts. The runner-up finish is Elliott’s second top-five of the season. He started the race in the second position, and the competitive performance helped make up for a 29th-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway last weekend.

“Yeah, just very fortunate circumstances there at the end for us with the way the restarts went,” Elliott said. “Having a short run there at the end was definitely in our favor.  So, it was nice to be on the good end of things for the first time in a while.

“Looking forward, we have to be realistic about how we ran tonight. I think the result shouldn’t weigh into how hard we worked this week because we have some work to do.  I think that we have to keep that in mind.”

After winning the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown at Langley Speedway on Thursday, Hamlin finished third at Richmond Raceway on Saturday night. The third-place effort is Hamlin’s fourth top-five in the first nine race of the 2018 season.

“Definitely battled back quite a bit,” Hamlin said. “Not completely happy with third by any means, but I tell you congrats to our teammate there (Kyle Busch). That’s a great accomplishment and we’ve just got to get a little bit better. We’re a little bit behind. We fought back. We had a 15th-place car early and we were able to battle back there and get it right there in the top three. Really need a longer run for our car to come in. It seemed like our car was very strong off the corners late in the run, but just on the short runs there at the end that was Achilles heel.”

Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-five in their Fords. Completing the top-10 were Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski, Clint Bowyer and Daniel Suarez.

On Sunday, the Toyota Owners 400 didn’t have a caution for an accident until lap 355, when Ryan Blaney spun in Turn 4, collecting Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Cole Whitt spun to avoid the crash as well.

Ryan Newman went up in smoke, dropping fluid on the track to bring out the fourth caution of the night on lap 369.

David Ragan backed his Ford into the wall to bring out the fifth caution on lap 391.

The caution that set the field up for the NASCAR Overtime finish occurred on lap 397, when Ricky Stenhouse’s car dropped debris onto the track.

Busch currently leads the in the standings by 56 points over Logano.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will visit Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, April 29 for the GEICO 500. Live coverage of the race will broadcast on FOX and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 2 p.m. ET.

 

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