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SEP 22, 2018 | Ford Performance Staff

Harvick, Almirola Score Finish Inside Top-5 at Richmond

Federated Auto Parts 400

RICHMOND, Va. – It was a “Big Three” kind of night as Kyle Busch (Toyota) bested Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. (Toyota) at Richmond Raceway Friday night. The win did not come without at epic battle between Busch and Brad Keselowski as the duo battled neck-and-neck before the 18 took the lead for the final time  with 37 laps to go.

Harvick, who started on the pole led the first 40 laps in the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford before he was overtaken by Martin Truex Jr. on Lap 41. Harvick was reeling in Busch through the final 10 laps but was unable to close the gap.

Stewart-Haas racing teammate Aric Almirola rounded out the top five in fifth, putting together a consistent and quiet night and his second straight top-10 finish to start the playoffs.  

Among Ford Playoffs drivers, Brad Keselowski finished ninth and Clint Bowyer 10th. Joey Logano was 14th and Kurt Busch 18th while the lowest finisher was Ryan Blaney, who was 19th.

Heading into the first playoff cut-off race next weekend only Keselowski has a clinched a spot in Round 2 for Ford. Kevin Harvick is next closest, needing only a 34th-or-better finish to punch his ticket to the Round of 12.

The final race in Round 1 of the NASCAR Playoffs takes place next Sunday afternoon at Charlotte Motor Speedway when teams will race on the Roval for the very first time. Green flag is set for 2 pm (ET) on NBC.

MONSTER ENERGY CUP RACE TOP-10 FINISHERS
1st Kyle Busch
2nd Kevin Harvick
3rd Martin Truex Jr.
4th Chase Elliott
5th Aric Almirola
6th Austin Dillon
7th Kyle Larson
8th Jimmie Johnson
9th Brad Keselowski
10th Clint Bowyer

FORD FINISHING RESULTS
2nd Kevin Harvick
5th Aric Almirola
9th Brad Keselowski
10th Clint Bowyer
13th Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
14th Joey Logano
18th Kurt Busch
19th Ryan Blaney
22nd Paul Menard
23rd David Ragan
24th Michael McDowell
25th Matt Kenseth
26th Cole Custer
34th Matt DiBenedetto

Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion - Finished 2nd
“We were starting to track him (Kyle Busch) down there at the end. I needed about 25 more laps. I gotta thank everybody on our Jimmy John’s Ford. They did a great job on a weekend when we needed to do a great job with all the unknowns going into next week. It will be a fun weekend but it will be kind of trial and error as we go through the weekend. It was a good night for us here at Richmond and we did a good job on pit road, just came up a little bit short.”

Aric Almirola, No. 10 Smithfield Ford Fusion - Finished 5th
“I just couldn’t quite get it to turn the way I needed to to make pace with those guys in front of me. I am so proud of these guys on the Smithfield team. Our Ford Fusion was fast. We had a good night. We executed and ran top-five all night. That is the exact night we were looking for to build a little bit of a point cushion going into the Roval next week where we are all unsure of what we will have. I am really proud of the night and we will see what happens next week.”

Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Reese/DrawTite Ford Fusion - Finished 9th
“We had a lot of short run speed and I knew that was our chance to win the race there and we ran it pretty hard and it didn’t quite work out. We didn’t quite catch the breaks we needed there. Burned off the rear tires. We ran good but we still have some things to work on.”

Joey Logano, No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Fusion - Finished 14th
“We just were a little bit too loose most of the race and then we had a mistake on pit road that cost us probably six or seven spots. That is just the things that you can’t have during the playoffs but we will work through them. We are still in an okay spot. We are not in a good enough spot to not be concerned about next week totally but it does put us in a decent position.”

KEVIN HARVICK POST-RACE PRESS CONFERENCE
NOT MANY CAUTIONS; DID YOU FEEL LIKE YOU MIGHT HAVE BEEN GAINING SOME GROUND THERE AT THE END, JUST RAN OUT OF TIME?
“We were definitely gaining a little bit of ground.  But we just ‑‑ we didn't have enough time to get all the way to him.  But our guys did a great job rebounding after last weekend and doing what we had to do this week to put ourselves in a good position for next week, so solid night.”

LAST WEEK GIVEN HOW YOU'VE RUN HERE, EVEN THOUGH IT'S NOT THE WIN, STILL FEEL PRETTY GOOD THE WAY YOU FINISHED? “Yeah, I think we've been top 5 six out of the last eight, seven out of the last nine now.  It's been a solid racetrack for us, but we just haven't had the winning car. The Gibbs cars have been tough to beat here over the last few years, and we just haven't had the speed that they have had.  This time we had speed and were able to race right there with them. We've been hit‑or‑miss here, and tonight was a good night to be good.”