Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth earned top-five finishes to led Joe Gibbs Racing in tonight’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway, while late-race contact and a resulting spin kept Denny Hamlin from joining his teammates in the top five and leaving him to finish a disappointing 22nd.
Busch started the No. 18 M&Ms Toyota 19th and was patient through the opening green flag run of the race while crew chief Dave Rogers called for adjustments to help his Camry turn a bit better as the sunset and the track cooled. He would restart 11th on lap 107 following a round of pit stops. He would gain a spot to enter the top ten and was running ninth at lap 140 and had moved up to seventh by lap 160. The M&Ms crew would gain another spot on pit road allowing Busch to restart sixth on lap 171 and he was into the top five before the halfway mark. He would drop back to ninth before a caution on lap 227 as he struggled on the exit of turns. He would restart ninth on lap 238. Busch struggled with the handling on his M&Ms Camry on the next run and dropped back outside of the top ten and was running 14th at lap 275. Busch would bring the car back down pit road on lap 300 and lined up 15th for the restart with 95 to go. He would gain several spots and following a pit stop he would line up 10th for a restart on lap 376. Unfortunately he would get hit from behind by the 51 car causing him to get into the 11 bringing out a caution. Another caution would follow with 15 laps to go and crew chief Dave Rogers would make the call to give up some track position to bring the M&Ms Camry down pit road for fresh tires. It turned out to be the right call as Busch restarted 16th with nine to go and gained eight spots on the opening lap. He would go on to gain five more spots over the course of the final laps to earn an impressive third-place finish.