Monday, 11 September 2017 08:10

Kyle Larson Steals Win at Richmond; NASCAR Playoff Picture Set

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Kyle Larson celebrates his win at Richmond Raceway Saturday. Kyle Larson celebrates his win at Richmond Raceway Saturday. Photo courtesy of NASCAR.com

RICHMOND, Va. -- The NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series regular season came to a close Saturday night as Kyle Larson drove by Martin Truex, Jr. and Denny Hamlin to win the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway.


The night started out with Matt Kenseth on the pole. Kenseth was one of three drivers who were looking for a win to secure a spot in the playoffs, along with Joey Logano and Clint Bowyer. It was a must-win situation for all three.

The first caution of the night flew at lap 36 when Landon Cassill of the 34 Ford, blew a tire and hit the wall. Kenseth won the battle off pit road and held onto the lead.

On lap 88, Kenseth was still leading when his 20 Toyota pulled out the caution for smoke spewing from the back. Because the 20 team took time to check on the car, it was Brad Keselowski who took the lead after pit stops.

Keselowski did not hold onto the lead for long, as on the restart, Kyle Busch launched the 18 Toyota to the front on the restart. Busch led the field to the end of Stage 1 to secure a playoff point with Kyle Larson (P2), Bowyer (P3), Matt Kenseth (P4), and Truex, Jr., (P5) following behind.

The second stage of the 400 lap race had no caution interruptions, but many lead changes took place, as teams began to strategize for stage three. Ryan Newman held the lead briefly before Busch and Larson began battling for the number one spot. By the end of stage two, it was Truex, Jr., who gained another playoff point. Kenseth (P2), Erik Jones (P3), Logano (P4), and Keselowski (P5) followed.

The 78 Toyota kept the lead at the start of the final stage and held onto it until lap 257 when the caution flew for the fifth time. Austin Dillon of the 3 Chevrolet made contact with Danica Patrick of the 10 Chevrolet.

During the caution, there was a lot of miscommunication between NASCAR and the first responders. While neither driver of the wreck needed medical assistance, an ambulance had driven onto the track and stopped at the commitment line at the entrance of pit road, which was open for drivers to come onto. Many drivers, who had no idea of the ambulance being in the way, had to check up and made contact with other drivers.

One of those drivers was Kenseth, who received a lot of damage after running into the back of a car who braked quickly. The 20 team was done for the night.

Larson had the lead on the restart of the race. He lost it at lap 286 to Truex, Jr. During the green flag run, drivers such as Kevin Harvick and Logano began to pit early. Because of their short pits, which gave them fresher tires, it forced many of the leaders to pit, which allowed for Dale Earnhardt Jr. to take the lead for 12 laps. After the green flag pit cycle, Keselowski had the lead.

At lap 354, Truex, Jr., had ran Keselowski down and took the lead back. It seemed that the winner was clear as the laps were winding down, but then Derrick Cope of the 15 Chevrolet had an incident that pulled out the caution with two laps to go.

The race went into overtime with Larson beating Truex, Jr., and Hamlin off of pit road. On the restart with a green-white-checkered situation, Larson dug deep to hold the lead. In the final lap, Hamlin and Truex, Jr., made contact and both hit the wall in turn one. NASCAR flew the final caution and Larson was declared the winner with Logano finishing second after coming back from fifth on the start.

Larson celebrated in victory lane as the winner of the race, but he, among fifteen other drivers, had more to celebrate.

The regular season ended with sixteen drivers making the playoffs. These drivers have the opportunity to win the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series Championship. The standings are as follows:

  • Martin Truex, Jr. (2053 points)

  • Kyle Larson (2033)

  • Kyle Busch (2029)

  • Brad Keselowski (2019)

  • Jimmie Johnson (2017)

  • Kevin Harvick (2015)

  • Denny Hamlin (2013)

  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2010)

  • Ryan Blaney (2008)

  • Chase Elliott (2006)

  • Ryan Newman (2005)

  • Kurt Busch (2005)

  • Kasey Kahne (2005)

  • Austin Dillon (2005)

  • Matt Kenseth (2005)

  • Jamie McMurray (2003)

  • The playoffs will begin this weekend, as all three NASCAR National Series travel to Chicagoland Speedway. The Monster Energy Series race will take place on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017 at 3 p.m. You can watch on NBCSN or listen on MRN Radio.

    Last modified on Monday, 11 September 2017 08:15