(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

Martin Truex Jr. Wins Richmond, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishes 1-2-3

Martin Truex Jr. triumphed at Richmond Raceway in a one-two-three finish for Joe Gibbs Racing — which was nearly just the second top-four team sweep in the 71-year history of NASCAR until Erik Jones failed post-race inspection. Saturday’s (Sept. 21) Federated Auto Parts 400 was also a second straight chance for Truex to flex his muscle in the playoffs.

Even a spin couldn’t stop his march to the front of the field on this night.

On lap 315, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. had just short-pitted and locked up his left-front tire, making enough contact with Truex to send the No. 19 Toyota into a loop. The caution came out, but Truex didn’t hit anything and his speed was not affected. He was able to fight back and get his second series short track win, both of which came at Richmond this year.

The No. 19 Toyota completed the sweep for his sixth win of the season. Truex is now the fourth driver to begin the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs with two straight victories, following Greg Biffle in 2008, Tony Stewart in 2011 and Matt Kenseth in 2013.

“If anyone in the field said they wouldn’t want to be in this position, they’re lying,” Truex said. “It’s pretty incredible to be sitting here, two playoff wins in two races.”

Coming in second was Kyle Busch, who locked himself into the Round of 12 with that performance. Busch led the most laps on the night with 202 and won stage two. However, he struggled with lapped traffic over the long run compared to Truex. Truex got by Busch with 26 laps to go and battled him side-by-side for a number of laps before finally pulling away to secure the win.

Denny Hamlin had a fairly quiet night end in third. The first non-JGR driver in the top five, earning himself the unofficial consolation prize, was pole sitter Brad Keselowski in fourth.

Ryan Newman was the race’s big surprise, running as high as third at points before settling down to finish fifth. Kyle Larson finished sixth and Kevin Harvick clinched a spot in the Round of 12 by finishing seventh. Clint Bowyer ended up eighth while Daniel Suarez was the first non-playoff driver to crack the top 10.

Joey Logano started 28th, got the free pass a couple of times and salvaged an 11th. Chase Elliott was fairly strong early but faded late to finish 13th, the first driver a lap down.

Other playoff driver results included Aric Almirola in 16th, Ryan Blaney in 17th and Kurt Busch in 18th. Teammates Alex Bowman and William Byron had horrible days and finished 23rd and 24th, respectively. Jones will officially leave Richmond with just a single point and need to win at the ROVAL to advance to the Round of 12.

As per usual in short track racing, there was plenty of contact. After a lap 109 restart, Bowman went up into Austin Dillon to cause one of the night’s few wrecks. Dillon returned the favor a couple of laps later, spinning out the No. 88 Chevrolet and putting Bowman in a hole he couldn’t climb out of.

FEDERATED AUTO PARTS 400 UNOFFICIAL RESULTS

Truex won stage one, while Kyle Busch was able to hold off Truex in the latter laps of stage two to earn himself a playoff point for the next two playoff rounds.

NASCAR RACE WEEKEND CENTRAL: RICHMOND

RICHMOND COVERAGE

ALBINO: ERIK JONES RIDING HIGH… UNTIL FAILING NASCAR POST-RACE INSPECTION

ALBINO: NEWMAN CALLS RICHMOND ‘BEST TEAM PERFORMANCE’ OF YEAR FOR ROUSH FENWAY

CHEEK: BOWMAN 23rd AT RICHMOND, TAKES SHOT AT AUSTIN DILLON AFTER ROUGH NIGHT 

MASSIE: STEMETS CLUTCH IN HELPING BUBBA WALLACE SCORE ANOTHER TOP-15 FINISH

CHEEK: HAMLIN HANGS IN THERE FOR SOLID THIRD-PLACE RUN

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Michael has watched NASCAR for 15 years and began covering the sport five years ago. He is a graduate of Salisbury University and a proud member of the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA).

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6 comments

  1. Avatar

    If Truex had not won, all we’d be hearing about today was Stenhouse spinning him out. Now that’s just a footnote to the overall race.

  2. Avatar

    One question. Does toyota own nascar now? Too much good college football on tv to waste my time watching the same tired crap. And I used to be a nascar junkie

  3. Avatar

    I didn’t waste my time and watch the race, as I suspected it would be a Toyota romp. The Xfinity race was with Bell dominating. I wouldn’t worry too much about Jones making it out of this round as one of the “chosen 12” to advance. Jones will be the recipient of a “miracle” and win next week. I still say it will an “all-Gibbs-all-Toyota” final at Homestead, which was Brian’s dream.

    • Avatar

      I had the exact opposite thought when I found out Jones failed post race inspection; “NASCAR wants to make sure that the final four aren’t all from JGR”.
      If NASCAR was going to have to orchestrate a “miracle win” next week, wouldn’t it have been easier to just look the other way with the inspection last night?
      Just for the record, I am no Toyota fan and no JGR fan and I would be fine with none of them making the final four.
      So I ask why would NASCAR go through all the trouble to take the 4th place finish away last night and then orchestrate a fixed win next week? Explain that thought process to me.

  4. Avatar

    The rule changes sure seem to have helped the Toys. Imagine that. The Notre Dame-Georgia game was a lot better to watch than the Little Toy show.