MENCS Richmond Recap: A battle to the end Featured

Matrin Truex Jr. celebrates his first short track victory at Richmond Raceway Matrin Truex Jr. celebrates his first short track victory at Richmond Raceway Sean Gardner / Getty Images

The starting line up for todays Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway was jumbled before the race even started. Eight cars failed their initial pre-race inspection and had to start from the rear, including four that qualified in the top ten.

Kevin Harvick maintained the lead from the pole as the front of the field filed into position quickly, however the traffic in the back was hectic. Kyle Busch would take the lead on lap 31 as the two traversed lapped traffic.

A competition caution was called on lap 40 due to the rain earlier in the day. Busch would maintain the lead off of pit road and bring the field back to green. He was able to pull away from the field and lead the remaining laps for his fifth stage victory of the year.

A chaotic start to stage two left Kyle Larson with a left rear tire rub forcing him to make an unscheduled pit stop falling off the lead lap. Shortly thereafter Larson would find himself in the turn one wall after losing the left rear again, exiting the race on lap 128.

Tires were a priority, and all cars would pit out of necessity after only 16 laps. Unfortunately for Busch he was caught speeding on pit road dropping him to 24th on the restart as Martin Truex Jr. found himself outfront.

Joey Logano took the lead with six laps left in stage two for the stage victory. The top four cars were within two seconds of the leader. Logano would keep the lead off pit road and lead the field back to the green flag.

Michael McDowell cut a right rear tire going into turn 1 on lap 243 to cause the third caution of the night bringing everyone back down pit road. Truex’s crew got him off of pit road first.

Brad Keselowski who had a strong car all night finally made his way to the lead on lap 266, but Truex would take the lead back on lap 294.

As the race progressed the top five cars were all within two seconds before green flag pit stops started with around 80 laps to go. On the other side of the pit cycle Truex had a two second lead over Clint Bowyer.

With 25 laps to go Bowyer was on Truex’s bumper as Joey Logano closed in on the leaders battling. Less than ten laps to go and all three drivers were within half a second, and Harvick joined the battle a little too late.

Logano put his team Penske Ford in second with five to go, but could not get any closer than the bumper of Truex who took the checkered flag for his first short track victory.

Top five: Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will be back on track in two weeks on April 28th at Talladega Superspeedway at 2:00PM for the GEICO 500.

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Thomas Latzkowski

Originally from central New York, I was first introduced to NASCAR through my uncle. I quickly developed an interest in the sport that has only grown over the last 20 years. I have a bachelors degree in agriculture business from SUNY Cobleskill, and currently manage the marketing efforts for a produce importer. In 2017 I thru-hiked the Appalachian trail, and since have been focused on pursuing my passions in life such as motorsports.

 

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