RICHMOND, Va. - Joey Logano ran consistently inside the top 10 all night long and finished right in the middle of that segment as he led Ford with a fifth-place finish in Saturday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond Raceway.
The event, which was the second playoff race of the season, saw two more Ford drivers join Logano in the top 10 as Kevin Harvick finished eighth and Ryan Blaney 10th behind winner Martin Truex Jr.
Logano and Harvick scored points in all three stages to increase their cushion in the point standings going into next week’s Round 1 finale at Bristol Motor Speedway. Logano is the highest ranked Ford driver in the playoff standings, sitting fourth and 40 points above the cut line while Harvick is sixth, 25 points ahead.
Blaney is right between Logano and Harvick, sitting fifth with a 28-point buffer from 13th-place Alex Bowman.
Brad Keselowski and Aric Almirola finished 13th and 14th, respectively and remain above the cut line. Keselowski is ninth, 13 points above while Almirola remains 11th by three points. The top 12 in the standings will advance to Round 2 after next week’s Bristol race.
Michael McDowell needs a win in order to advance as he stands 38 points below the cut line after Richmond.
As mentioned, the final race of Round 1 will be Saturday, Sept. 18 at Bristol Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM).
PLAYOFF STANDINGS FOLLOWING DARLINGTON (TOP 12 ADVANCE AFTER BRISTOL)
Kyle Larson (Clinched spot in Round of 12)
Denny Hamlin (Clinched spot in Round of 12)
Martin Truex Jr. (Clinched spot in Round of 12)
Joey Logano (+40 above cut line)
Ryan Blaney (+28 above cut line)
Kevin Harvick (+25 above cut line)
Chase Elliott (+19 above cut line)
Christopher Bell (+17 above cut line)
Brad Keselowski (+13 above cut line)
Kyle Busch (+8 above cut line)
Aric Almirola (+3 above cut line)
Kurt Busch (+0 above cut line via tiebreaker)
Alex Bowman (-0)
Tyler Reddick (-5 below cut line)
William Byron (-18 below cut line)
Michael McDowell (-38 below cut line)
NCS RACE TOP-10 FINISHERS
1st -- Martin Truex Jr.
2nd -- Denny Hamlin
3rd -- Christopher Bell
4th -- Chase Elliott
5th -- Joey Logano
6th -- Kyle Larson
7th -- Ross Chastain
8th -- Kevin Harvick
9th -- Kyle Busch
10th -- Ryan Blaney
REMAINING FORD FINISHERS
13th -- Brad Keselowski
14th -- Aric Almirola
16th -- Chase Briscoe
18th -- Matt DiBenedetto
20th -- Ryan Newman
22nd -- Cole Custer
24th -- Chris Buescher
26th -- Anthony Alfredo
28th -- Michael McDowell
30th -- B.J. McLeod
36th -- Josh Bilicki
JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Mustang
“That’s about where we were -- a fifth-place car. Maybe sometimes a little better, sometimes a little worse depending on the kind of run. I’d say we averaged out as the fifth car and that’s where we finished. We got some good points. I think we were third in the first stage and fifth in the second and a fifth finish, so that’s some good points. I don’t know where that’s gonna stack the Shell/Pennzoil Mustang up in the playoff standings, but it should put us in a decent spot going into Bristol next week. That’s what it’s all about right now. It’s about being solid and getting every point, so we’re getting them. We’re doing what we’ve got to do. We’re grinding them out, but had nothing for the Gibbs cars tonight.”
RYAN BLANEY, No. 12 Advance Auto Parts Ford Mustang
“From the spring race here I thought we could run right there and we ran 11th in the spring. I thought we figured some stuff out and we worked a little bit more on it, so we got some stage points and had a couple runs that were bad, a couple runs where we got better and better, and at the end we were able to pass a handful of cars to get home 10th. I’m proud of the team. Thanks to Advance Auto Parts and Ford and Menards for sticking in. I had fun tonight. I actually had a lot of fun tonight. That was fun. September 2021 I had fun at Richmond. It’s cool to be in a nice spot going into Bristol. I’m just proud of the whole group all night.”
DO YOU GO TO BRISTOL COMFORTABLE?
“I think just have a normal race, just go out and run a normal race like we did tonight and work on our car all night. That’s how we have to approach it and I think we can do that.”
HOW WOULD YOU BREAK DOWN YOUR RACE?
“I thought it was a good night for us. I thought we made big gains here and we finished 10th. That’s pretty good. I’m proud of the whole group. Leaving Richmond with more points above the cut line than where we entered is always nice. We were in a lot worse spot leaving here last year, so it’s nice to have a good run.”
ARIC ALMIROLA, No. 10 Smithfield/Tuesday’s Children Ford Mustang
“We didn’t have a race-winning car, but I thought we could have run fifth to eighth, so I’m a little frustrated but it’s a team sport and we’ll go to Bristol and keep fighting.”
DO YOU FEEL ENCOURAGED AT THE 750 TRACKS?
“Yeah, I think we’re competitive. We’re in the hunt. Like I said, today we should have ran fifth to eighth. We had a loose lugnut and I had to pit again under green, and then got us behind. I don’t know where we finished. I think we finished 14th instead of sixth or seventh, which is about where we were running, so frustrating that we gave up those points. This situation we can’t really give up any points. It would have been a lot nicer to go to Bristol plus 12 instead of plus three or four, but it is what it is. It’s no big deal. We’ve got to put our head down and go race. It’s the same situation. We’ve just got to go racing and score as many points as we can. You just hate to five up six, seven, eight points.”
BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 Western Star Ford Mustang
“It’s not the day we wanted with our Western Star Ford. I’m really proud of the pit crew. They kept us in the game all night.”
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF YOUR RACE?
“Disappointing day. Didn’t have any speed. Just ran a whole race and didn’t really make any mistakes, but that’s all we had. I was hoping this was going to be a big day for us, but we never really showed any strength.”
YOU’RE PLUS-13 OVER THE CUT LINE FOR BRISTOL.
“That’s not great, but it’s better than being behind. It could be worse but obviously could be better.”
MICHAEL MCDOWELL, No. 34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford Mustang
“Just another missed opportunity. We’re just making too many mistakes. We sped on pit road. The first time I thought, ‘Maybe it was close.’ And then I sped on my sped and it was not close, so obviously we missed the configuration on the lights, and then I backed it down again and still sped again. It’s unfortunate. Everybody did a really good job. We actually had good speed. We had a fast Love’s Travel Stops Ford Mustang and we just lost all those laps with penalties and unfortunately I didn’t adjust enough or quick enough. I thought I knocked enough speed off, but obviously it wasn’t enough. It’s really unfortunate.”