Busch Wins Richmond!
Much like his teammate Denny Hamlin did just one week ago in Kansas, Kyle Busch patiently raced inside the top five all night, then received a phenomenal pit stop from his crew and drove away over the final laps to win tonight’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Capital City 400 at Richmond International Raceway.
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Meanwhile Hamlin gave JGR a second car in the top five with his fourth-place effort and Joey Logano would battle to come home 24th.
Busch, who had won the previous three spring races in Richmond, started the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota fifth tonight and spent much of the first half of the race battling inside the top five and racing as high as the second position. He would lose several positions during a round of green flag pit stops at the midpoint of the race when he was blocked getting into his pit stall by another car. He would come out in the eighth position. A great pit stop by the M&Ms crew while pitting under caution on lap 229 would pick up at least two of those positions however, and allow Busch to restart fifth on lap 237. Busch would patiently drive his way to the front and on lap 286 he would assume the lead for the first time. He was racing second to leader Tony Stewart when a caution for debris came out on lap 386. That is when the M&Ms crew went to work and put together an incredible four-tire change that allowed Busch to restart first on lap 391. Busch, who had been outstanding on the short runs all night, did it again, as he drove away on the restart and then held off Dale Earnhardt, Jr for the win.
Hamlin, who won one week ago in Kansas, started the No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota tonight in the seventh position and was able to race his way to as high as second by the time NASCAR issued a competition caution on lap 50 to check track conditions following a long day of rain in the Richmond area. As the race reached the midway point Hamlin was dealing with a loose race car and came out of the pits following a green flag stop in the 10th position. He would patiently improve his position on the track and would race in the seventh position with 100 laps to go. He would gain another spot on the track before a caution on lap 386 would set up a late restart to the finish. The FedEx crew would allow Hamlin to restart in the top five and he would gain another spot over the final nine laps of racing to come home fourth.
Logano qualified the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota 18th and battled early handling conditions that were tight in the middle and loose off. Early contact with the No. 47 would knock the front toe out which caused the car to become extremely difficult to turn through the center of the corners. It would cause Logano to drop a lap off the pace, but he would get the lap back by racing into the lucky dog position when one of the race’s few cautions came out on lap 117. The Home Depot crew was able to fix the toe on the pit stop, but the lack of track position would prove costly and with long green flag runs the theme of the race once again this week, Logano would find himself one lap off the pace for a second time. The Home Depot team would battle the rest of the way to a 24th-place finish.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr would finish second behind Busch, with Tony Stewart third, Hamlin fourth, and Kasey Kahne rounded out the top five. There were five cautions for a total of 30 laps with 18 lead changes among seven different drivers.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Talladega Superspeedway next Sunday with live broadcast coverage by Fox starting at Noon ET (race begins at 1 PM ET). Sirius NASCAR radio channel 90 and MRN Radio will also provide live coverage. You can also keep track of all the action by following @joegibbsracing on twitter.