Sunday, September 23, 2018

Kyle Busch Sweeps Richmond in 2018 with Federated Auto Parts 400 Win

Credit: Carol D'Agostino for Skirts and Scuffs
by Carol D’Agostino

Going into the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway, the pre-race discussion was focused on whether the race would be chaotic or calm. Would drivers like Erik Jones, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott, who all took a hit in points due to wrecks in Las Vegas, help themselves or hurt themselves? And would next weekend’s big unknown – the Charlotte Roval – impact the racing at Richmond?

Two hours and 54 minutes later, it was Kyle Busch who took the checked flag after a calm race with only one caution, other than stage endings. Busch led 92 laps and earned his 50th win, sweeping Richmond Raceway in 2018. He started the race from the back due to failing prerace inspection for making unapproved adjustments after scraping the wall during qualifying Friday.

The story line of the race was reminiscent to this racing season’s story line: the dominance of Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick. Martin Truex Jr., and the new comer to the group, Brad Keselowski. All four drivers led laps. In fact Martin Truex Jr. led the most laps with 163 and won both the first and second stages. He ended up finishing third, but was clearly frustrated about not being able to close the deal.

“I don't know what we've got to do to win one of these things. God, it's awful frustrating to come here and be so good and lead so many laps and find every single way possible that just things don't work out for us. It's pretty frustrating. But at the same time, it feels good to run that good, and we recovered well and did what we came here to do, which is move on to the next round,” Truex Jr. said.

Up until this race, a fall Richmond win eluded Kyle Busch. He can now check that off his list of accomplishments and go into the Roval next week less stressed.

“It (the win) certainly makes a bunch of relief,” Busch said. “If we would have had trouble again tonight and been kind of at the cutoff line, then obviously it would make for a very, very stressful week and a stressful Roval. But right now it feels pretty good. So we can go in there with no worries and try to go and attack that place and see what we can get out of there."

Kevin Harvick had to settle for third place after leading 40 laps while Brad Keselowski finished ninth and led 67 laps. At race’s end, three drivers secured their spots into the next round of playoffs: Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bank of America ROVAL 400, the last race of playoff round one, comes to the Charlotte Motor Speedway next Sunday with much trepidation. The race will be broadcast at 2 p.m. on NBC/NBC Sports App.

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