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Larson Wins Richmond Regular Season Finale

NASCARMedia

NASCAR

Saturday night at Richmond Raceway was a pivotal race for many. It was the regular season finale for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. With 3 Playoff spots on the line, ‘The Action Track’ lived up to its nickname.

The Federated Auto Parts 400 began with bubble driver Matt Kenseth on the pole. Kenseth started the night in the Playoffs on points. He would need either a solid run or a repeat winner to secure his position.

Kenseth led early on, proving he was a contender for the win. While leading on lap 92, smoke came from Kenseth’s car, forcing a yellow flag. Kyle Busch won Stage 1, and Kenseth would finish 4th. Stage 2, a 92 lap green flag run, went to Martin Truex Jr. This stage win marked Truex’s 53rd Playoff bonus point. Erik Jones, Joey Logano, and Dale Earnhardt Jr, all in must-win scenarios, finished Stage 2 in the top 10.

Ambulance Confusion

On lap 257, the caution flew again for the spinning Danica Patrick. She kept her car off the wall and was able to continue. However, under this caution, there was a miscommunication between NASCAR and the track safety workers. An ambulance parked on pit road entry as the field came in for service. Many drivers had to evade the ambulance. Some drivers went over the orange commitment box, but NASCAR waived the penalties. This incident resulted in damage to Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, and others. Kenseth’s team had to go behind the wall to fix his car. They exceeded the 5 minute repair time limit, ending their race.

Race Finish

Back under the green, Truex Jr was pulling away, looking for his record 5th win of the season. After a series of pit strategies that saw Dale Jr lead 13 laps, Truex was back out front. With 2 laps to go, Derrike Cope hit the wall, bringing out a caution. Kyle Larson was able to beat Truex off of pit road. The overtime restart saw Larson jump to a lead over Truex. After taking the white flag, Denny Hamlin and Truex made contact in turn 1. Truex hit the wall hard, bringing out a race-ending caution. Kyle Larson was declared the winner. This is his 4th win of the season and 5th of his career. It is also his first career win not on a 2-mile race track.

Playoff Field Set

With Larson winning Saturday night, he secured second-place in the regular season standings. The final 3 Playoff positions were awarded to Chase Elliott, Jamie McMurray, and Matt Kenseth. With the regular season championship, Truex is seeded as the points leader heading into race 1 at Chicagoland. Kyle Larson is a distant 20 points behind him. The remaining Playoff drivers and their points positions are seen in the table below.

DriverPoints Position
Martin Truex Jr2,053 Points
Kyle Larson-20
Kyle Busch-24
Brad Keselowski-34
Jimmie Johnson-36
Kevin Harvick-38
Denny Hamlin-40
Ricky Stenhouse Jr-43
Ryan Blaney-45
Chase Elliott-47
Ryan Newman-48
Kurt Busch-48
Kasey Kahne-48
Austin Dillon-48
Matt Kenseth-48
Jamie McMurray-50

Stay tuned for coverage on Wednesday from Playoff Media Day at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

 

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