RICHMOND, Va. – Joey Logano won the first two stages, but couldn’t complete the sweep as a series of late-race cautions jumbled the running order and resulted in Kyle Busch taking his third straight Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win in Saturday night’s race at Richmond Raceway.
Logano ended up fourth in a race that didn’t see any on-track cautions until there were 47 laps to go. That ignited a stretch that saw three more yellow flags come out, resulting in an overtime green-white-checkered finish.
Much of the night was dominated by Ford because in addition to Logano, all four of the Stewart-Haas Racing Fusions ran in the top 10 most of the night. Clint Bowyer led the charge for the first three-quarters of the event as he led three times for 45 laps. He passed teammate Kevin Harvick for the lead with 69 laps to go, but immediately pitted under green at that point and was never able to get back to the front.
Bowyer, Kurt Busch and Aric Almirola, who all led laps at different times in the event, ended up on the tough end of all the restarts as the beating and banging took a toll and moved all of them back to finishes that weren’t representative of how strong they ran most of the night. Bowyer finished eighth while Busch was 11th and Almirola 17th.
Harvick maintained his top-five track position after getting up there with 150 laps to go, and he even took the lead on lap with 77 circuits remaining before Bowyer got by him. He eventually finished fifth while Brad Keselowski, who also came on strong over the final 100 laps, ended up eighth.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series resumes Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, a place where Ford has won five in a row and six of the last seven. Green flag is set for 2 p.m.
MONSTER ENERGY CUP RACE TOP-10 FINISHERS
1st - Kyle Busch
2nd - Chase Elliott
3rd - Denny Hamlin
4th - Joey Logano
5th - Kevin Harvick
6th - Jimmie Johnson
7th - Kyle Larson
8th - Brad Keselowski
9th - Clint Bowyer
10th - Daniel Suarez
REMAINING FORD FINISHERS
11th - Kurt Busch
16th - Matt DiBenedetto
17th - Aric Almirola
21st - Trevor Bayne
22nd - Ryan Blaney
23rd - Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
24th - Paul Menard
31st - Michael McDowell
33rd - David Ragan
POST RACE QUOTES
LOGANO, No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion - Finished 4th
"You know, we had a really good Shell Pennzoil Ford early in the race and got a couple stage wins early which was great. We maxed out those points which is awesome. We just lost the handle on the car and fell back to sixth or so. We had a bad pit stop and lost a bunch of spots and then had a really good pit stop and got them all right back and were able to come home with a top-five. I wish I could re-run that. I feel like we can do better if we tried again. I am sure the whole field would say that. I am proud of the speed we showed at Richmond. Just want to be a little better."
“It was a lot of fun. There was a lot of speed in that Shell/Pennzoil Ford, especially early in the race and grabbing a couple of stage wins. That was really cool. I wish they were at the end of the race and not necessarily in the beginning and middle, but I’m proud of what the guys did there. We lost the handling a little bit that last stage and I fell back to sixth. We made some adjustments to get the speed back and then we were able to make some good adjustments to get the short-run speed where we were lacking early in the race. Then we had a really good pit stop at the end, which put us in position but not quite close enough to make something happen. We just kind of needed everyone to run into each other and be in the right place to make that happen, but, overall, I’m proud of this Shell/Pennzoil team. We have a good package here at Richmond. We run really well here and it was fun to be leading laps again up there. That was a lot of fun to see that clean air and passing cars and racing to the end of the stages was a lot of fun, but I wish it was for the win at the end. We scored a lot of points, so we’re proud of that.”
KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Fusion - Finished 5th
DESCRIBE THE RESTART AND WHAT MORE DID YOU NEED? "No more restarts. We were terrible on the restarts there compared to three or four of those guys. I was spinning the tires getting going there on the restarts. All of the night taken into consideration we were way better than we have been in the past and that is an important race for us to figure out where we need to be with all of the things that didn't go right tonight and be ready for when we come back here for the playoff race."
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT NOW THAT THE FALL RACE HERE IS A PLAYOFF RACE? "Well, for us, this race was really important just for the fact that we hadn't run as well as we needed to run here and tonight we contended and that is a much better building block than we had coming into the weekend."
CLINT BOWYER, No. 14 Ford Hall of Fans Ford Fusion - Finished 9th
“We had a really good car, it’s just frustrating there at the end. All hell breaks loose. We lost a couple of spots on pit road and that gets you back and then you get on the outside and get stuck behind somebody that spun their tires and you knock the front fender in on the 24 because he spun his tires. The next thing you know you’re tenth thinking, ‘Boy, how did this night go to ruin so fast?’ Then it’s just beating and banging and everybody dive-bombing on the bottom. Those cars that are a lap down you’re lapping, and all of a sudden sticking it in three-wide with nothing to lose at the end. It’s a shame that a good, positive night ends up being like that, but that’s racing at this place. If we could have maintained that top two or three, I think we could have stayed up there. Our M.O. is the long run, though. That’s where we were the strongest. All night long those guys could take off, even Kurt my teammate could take off better than I could, but I’d run him down and drive off.”
THERE WERE NO CAUTIONS THE ENTIRE RACE UNTIL THE LAST 45 LAPS. “Yeah, I was really looking forward to that race with the 78, the 4 and I. I thought that was shaping up to be a fun race and I thought it was gonna be good for everybody and unfortunately a caution came out. It was due. It hadn’t come out all night and it finally did.”
MATT DIBENEDETTO, No. 32 Superior Logistics Services Inc. Ford Fusion - Finished 16th
“A 16th for us at Go Fas Racing is a heck of a run. We outran some really, really good cars all day. Our car had crazy-good long run speed and of all days for us to have really good long run speed today was definitely the day. But even at the end when we had the green-white-checker we were able to pass a couple of good cars and pick up a spot or two. The team did a really good job. You know how great of a run that is for us.”
HOW DID YOU MANAGE THE RESTARTS AT THE END? “I basically forced my way three-wide around the outside. I knew guys would probably jam up on the inside a good bit, so I just forced my way around the outside and we were able to roll a little momentum and keep our momentum up and keep good position without getting shuffled back at all.”
TREVOR BAYNE, No. 6 AdvoCare Ford Fusion - Finished 21st
“We were grinding it out and struggling early to get the car to drive right and just really needed a lot more forward drive. It was burning the rear tires off way too fast and then about three-quarters of the way through the race we had the one good run where we got the car to hook up and got the rears to stay on longer and I thought we were pretty competitive there, but then the last couple runs they went away again, so we’ve got to go back and figure out what happened and why we’ve struggled for forward drive here the last two races. We’ve got a lot of work to do to get that right and we’ll see if we can get better. Overall, we finished on the lead lap, but 21st isn’t where you want to end up at the end of the day.”
RICKY STENHOUSE JR., No. 17 Fifth Third Bank Ford Fusion - Finished 23rd
"It was a struggle the first run on the tires we qualified on. Brian made a really good call on the firs stage to pit and keep us on the lead lap. I thought that would keep our race going good then we made a mistake on pit road with a pit cone violation that really killed the rest of our night. Then we had a few issues after that. I thought we were decent. Not our best effort at Richmond. There were points in the run we were good and points in the run we were bad. All in all just too many mistakes for a good finish."