Brad Keselowski won Saturday’s NASCAR Cup playoff race at Richmond Raceway, earning him a spot in the second round of the playoffs.
“Man, this thing was awesome,” Keselowski told NBCSN post-race.
Driver No. 2 led 192 of the 400 lap race, including the final 48 laps.
Keselowski said post-race that he hopes this id the car they use for the championship race at Phoenix later this year.
“We knew this was gonna be a really big pit strategy race, but we had the speed, we had the strategy. This team today did it all,” Keselowski told NBCSN post-race.
Rounding out the top five were Martin Truex Jr. in second, Joey Logano in third, Austin Dillion in fourth and Chase Elliott in fifth.
Kyle Busch, who before the race started failed pre-race inspection twice, finished sixth.
Completing the top ten were Kevin Harvick in seventh, Aric Almirola in eighth, Alex Bowman in ninth and Clint Bowyer in tenth.
Clint Bowyer, who finished tenth currently holds the final transfer spot to the second round of the playoffs. He ahead of William Byron by three points and ahead of Cole Custer by eight points. Matt DiBenedetto is 25 points below the cutoff and Ryan Blaney is 27 points below the cutoff.
Denny Hamlin secured a spot in the second round of the playoffs with his 12th place finish.
The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday Sept. 19th at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. This race will cut the playoff field from 16 drivers to 12 drivers.
After gaining the lead when teammate Brad Keslowski was fending off Kyle Busch and moving through the field with fresh tires on the final restart, Joey Logano will win the Toyota Owners 400 from RIchmond International Raceway under hot and slick conditions for his first win of 2017. Logano had to start at the back of the field due to changing a transmission on Saturday.
“I knew the 2 was so much faster than everybody and I had to get out there as quick and as far as I could. He was on his way to catch me. I think he was catching me a couple tenths a lap. That was all I had inside the car and I burned them up early trying to go,” said Logano post-race. “I am proud of the effort of the team. We executed under pressure today and brought a car home that was a 5th-10th place car home to victory lane.”
This is Logano’s 18th career win coming on his 300th start. Ford has won four of the first nine race of 2017. This is Logano's second victory at Richmond.
Keselowski finished second after the best long run car throughout the day. Keselowski ran up front for most of the race leading 110 laps. Despite having one of the cars to beat, Keselowski was upset after the race despite a second place finish.
“It was just hoping for another restart or the race to get extended for another 10 laps. I think we had a ton of long run speed today. That short run at the end...half the field came, half the field didn’t. I just got stuck in a lane of cars that didn’t go,” said Keselowski post-race. “By the time I did, he had a whole straightaway on me. I got it down to a couple of car lengths at the end. All and all I’m happy for Team Penske withe 1-2 finish. We’ll take it and move on.”
Denny Hamlin finished quietly in third after leading 59 laps during the race. Hamlin played a two-tire strategy in the second stage to give him the track position beginning on lap 211. According to the TV pit stop times, Hamlin’s pit crew was doing 10 to 11 second stops. However, NASCAR found a missing lug nut on the right rear tire post-race.
“We were competitive and our car drove really good. We were just missing some of the speed from the 2 (Brad Keselowski) and the 22 (Joey Logano) – they run a little more sideways than what we run and just they have more grip. I think we optimized our day for the most part and that’s about as good as we could do.”
Commitment line violations changed the complexion of the race, especially for Kyle Busch. When he leaders hit the pit lane after the final caution of the race, Busch was nabbed for violating the commitment line by not having all four tires below the line. NASCAR warned drivers in the driver’s meeting pre-race and over the radio before the green flag fell. Busch was unable to see the box due to the fact that Logano cut down to the pit lane at the last moment.
Busch declined full comment after the race about the incident, but told FOX. “Balls and strikes.” Busch walked away briskly without answering anymore questions. Busch finished the race in the 16th position despite running up front all race. Busch was one of six drivers busted for violating the commitment line.
There were 18 lead changes amongst eight different drivers. The caution flew nine times for 53 laps. The time of race was three hours, 14 minutes, and 34 seconds
Next up for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is the GIECO 500 from Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. Coverage from Talladega will be on FOX and Motor Racing Network beginning at 2:00 p.m. EST.
The Toyota Care 250 at Richmond International Raceway was calm and smooth until the final couple of restarts. The restarts that caused confusion amongst drivers, media, and fans.
The first incident happened on the lap 245 restart. Ty Dillon was the control car. Justin Allgaier line up second and Kyle Larson third. As the field was about to hit the restart zone, T. Dillon accelerated before the zone. NASCAR reviewed the restart and deemed that Dillon did in fact jump the start and was to start at the end of the field. When T. Dillon was relayed the message, he was hot.
Dillon started in the back of the field because shortly after the green flag waved again, the caution flag flew on lap 247 for an accident that involved six cars in the third turn. That caution also brought out the red flag for two minutes and 43 seconds.
Larson was deemed the leader after passing Allgaier on the first restart. The second caution would send the race in NASCAR Overtime. With NASCAR’s Overtime procedures, the race is deemed official when the leader crosses a pre-determined line on the first lap of overtime.
On the restart, Larson and Allgaier were battling for position and crossed the overtime line as three cars made contact towards the back of the field that would bring out the caution to end the race. Larson and Allgaier were in the third and fourth turn when the caution lights were illuminated.
However, as they were about to take the white flag, the caution flag was not waving. According to the NASCAR Rule Book, the race is deemed under caution when the lights are illuminated and/or the yellow flag is waving.
After the race, NASCAR would not allow anybody near T. Dillon to talk and Allgaier went up to a NASCAR Official to express his displeasure of how the race was handled in the end.
Once cooled down, Allgaier made comments to the media about the debacle in the closing laps.
“I wanted to punch and kick the side of the car once the race was over, but I felt like there were enough camera around that it might look goofy. I am frustrated, very frustrated actually. When you have these races, every scenario we could do something different and you could change the way you did it. You look back on it. It sucks. I just wish I could have done a few things differently. I wish other competitors would have done things differently. I think being that close to victory and having that dominant of a car with not really anything to show for it was probably the hardest part,” said Allgaier post-race.
While sitting under the red flag, Allgaier mentioned that his heart rate was 205 to 210 because of his frustration in the final laps.
Larson had a different approach and viewpoint to the final few laps in the race.
“I figured he (T. Dillon) would take off early. Ty got a little aggressive taking off too soon. This is kinda a tougher place to see where the zone starts because we are still turning when we get to the zone. It’s hard to see the zone start. He pushed early and definitely jumped a few feet and NASCAR made the right call,” said Larson of the restart that ultimately have him the victory.
After serving the penalty, T. Dillon ultimately finished in the 19th position.
Next up for the NASCAR Xfinity Series is the Sparks Energy 300 from Talladega Superspeedway.
Despite the first two rounds of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying being dominated by Joey Logano, it was Matt Kenseth who grabbed the pole position for Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400 from Richmond International Raceway.
“I didn’t feel like I had the perfect lap but I had some great speed,” Kenseth said after qualifying. “The guys didn’t a great job adjusting in between rounds. We had enough speed that we only had to do one lap in each of the first two rounds. We improved a little bit on our second lap (in the final session).”
This was the first pole for Kenseth in the 2017 season, his 19th career pole.
Throughout the qualifying session, drivers were awaiting a cloud to create some shade on the racetrack. However, the shade never came.
Logano was scored as the fastest driver in the first round after posting the same speed as Kevin Harvick at 120.870 mph. Logano gained the top position due to his position in the points standing. Clint Bowyer was third, Jimmie Johnson was fourth, and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top-five. Notable drivers who did not advance to the second round include Aric Almirola, Paul Menard, Trevor Bayne, and Austin Dillon. Dillon made one lap at about 82 mph because no matter where he qualified, he would have to start in the rear after failing laser inspection five times.
Logano was fastest in the second round at 121.268 mph, while Harvick posted the second fastest speed in the round at 120.979 mph. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was third fastest, Jamie McMurray was fourth fastest, and Martin Truex Jr. rounded out the top-five in the second round. Bowyer was able to advance to the final round by being higher in points than Ryan Newman as both drivers posted a lap speed at 119.667 mph.
Kenseth played his game in the final round of qualifying to post a speed of 121.076 mph to top Ryan Blaney, who will start second. Truex Jr. will start third, Stenhouse Jr. will start fourth, and Logano will start from the fifth position.
Drivers will have two practice sessions on Saturday before Sunday’s running of the Toyota Owners 400. The race will be broadcasted on FOX and Motor Racing Network at 2:00 pm EST.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series wraps up the unofficial “Short Track Swing” this weekend at Richmond International Raceway for the 63rd annual Toyota Owners 400. The race will be broken up into stage lengths of 100, 100, and 200 laps.
38 drivers made the trip up to Richmond for the race. No driver will be sent home. The field is considered full according to NASCAR.
There have been 54 different pole winners at Richmond, while there have only been 50 different winners. There have been 24 drivers who have won a race from the pole position with Denny Hamlin doing so in 2016. Dale Jarrett set the race record in 1997 at 109.047 mph. In 2013, Jeff Gordon set the qualifying record at 130.599 mph.
Drivers are excited to once again race in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
“Richmond has been a very successful racetrack for us as we’ve gone through the years. We finished both races in the top-five last year at Richmond so I think, as we go back this year, we’re going to shoot to be a little better than we were last year. We’ll try some different things. It’s been a very good racetrack for me in the past and I’m looking forward to going back. I like the short, flat tracks,” said Kevin Harvick.
“I love Richmond. It’s one of my favorite racetracks and one of my best racetracks. I love being able to go there and, of course, we put on some pretty good races there. We won four spring races in a row and I would have loved to have made it five or more. It’s a neat racetrack and it’s certainly an excitement track and there is a lot of action that happens there,” said Kyle Busch.
"Richmond usually turns into a forward drive racetrack. You have to be able to turn in the center like every other short track but getting the power down coming off the corners is a real premium especially later in a run,” said Ryan Newman.
Drivers will qualify at 4:30 p.m. EST on Friday. Qualifying will be broadcasted on Motor Racing Network and Fox Sports 1. The Toyota Owners 400 on Sunday will be broadcasted by Motor Racing Network and FOX.