Sprint Cup Series News (9070)
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will travel to Talladega, Alabama this week for the Geico 500.
Talladega is the hardest track to predict a winner. Any driver who is able to start the race has a realistic chance of going to Victory Lane. All it takes is one wreck to take out half of the field. Even the drivers who have had success at the track are in danger of finishing last.
When evaluating drivers for the race at Talladega, fantasy teams should look at who had success at Daytona. The tracks are very different, but the driving style is the same. Some drivers have a unique ability to avoid the wrecks and use the draft to make their way to the front. These are the drivers you want on your team this week.
Here are my picks for the Geico 500 at Talladega.
Yahoo Group A Picks
Fantasy teams should always be concerned about using their nine allocations in Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing. There is plenty of talent in Group A to get you through the season, so the only two drivers teams should consider saving are Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson. Both drivers are so good on intermediate tracks that the risk is not worth the reward to start them in this race.
Joey Logano will be a popular pick this week because he won the Daytona 500. Logano has finished the last seven races at Talladega outside the top 10. There are better tracks to use Logano on your team.
My sleeper pick in Group A is Jeff Gordon. He had a fast car at Daytona and led 83 laps before being involved in a wreck. Gordon has won six races at Talladega. He would be a good pick for Sunday’s race.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group A.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Each time the Sprint Cup Series races at a superspeedway fantasy teams need to pencil Earnhardt Jr. into their lineup. Some drivers just know how to find their way to the front at restrictor plate races and Earnhardt is one of the best. He has five wins and finished 14 of his 30 starts at Talladega in the top 10. Earnhardt is the best choice in Group A this week.
The second choice for this group came down to a decision between Matt Kenseth and Keselowski. Kenseth is the safer choice, but the way Keselowski drove in the last race at Talladega it is hard to leave him off your team.
Keselowski needed to win the race in October to advance to Eliminator Round of the Chase. With the laps coming to an end, Keselowski made his way through the field, the way Dale Earnhardt Sr. did in his prime. Keselowski outraced Kenseth to the checkered flag. It was one of the best performances of the season. That is the type of driver you need on your team this week.
Other good choices: Matt Kenseth,Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick
Yahoo Group B Picks
Drivers in this race will be trying to survive until the end. Since most of their fate does not lie in their hands Sunday, it will be better to be lucky than good. This is true with your fantasy team as well.
Making picks for Group B is more about picking the drivers you can afford to waste a start with than it is about who you think will win the race. Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards, Kasey Kahne and Martin Truex Jr. are too good at the other tracks to be considered for your team this week.
My sleeper pick for Group B is Casey Mears. He finished in the top-10 in the last race at Talladega and sixth in the Daytona 500. Mears seems to have figured out how to compete on the superspeedways.
Here are the four drivers I selected for Group B.
Biffle has not been very good this season. The only race he finished in the top 10 was at Daytona. This will be the perfect race to use an allocation with the No. 16 team. As bad as they have been on the down force tracks, the team has been able to compete on the superspeedways. Biffle finished second in this race last season. He would be a good choice for your team Sunday.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Stenhouse may be the best driver in this group on the restrictor plate tracks. He has finished all three of his races at Talladega in the top 13. There are not many tracks where fantasy teams will want to use Stenhouse for their team. If you plan to use him this season, Talladega is one of his best tracks.
McMurray has been a good pick at the superspeedways. Four of his seven career wins have come at this type of track. McMurray has been pretty good at avoiding wrecks at Talladega. He has finished 10 of the last 11 races at the track with his car still running. That is an accomplishment for any driver in a restrictor plate race.
Bowyer has not been a reliable pick this season, but he has had a lot of success at Talladega. Last season Bowyer finished third in both races at the track. He also ran well at Daytona this year. He started ninth and finished seventh in the Great American Race. This is the week to take a chance with the No. 15 team.
Other Good Choices: Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Kasey Kahne and Kyle Larson
Yahoo Group C Picks
Talladega is the only track where a Group C driver has a realistic chance of winning the race. It happened in the spring race of 2013. David Ragan won the race while driving for Front Row Motorsports and his teammate, David Gilliland finished second.
Ragan is the best choice for Group C, but I would not recommend using him this week. The rumor is that Ragan will move from the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 to the Michael Waltrip Racing No. 55 car after the race at Talladega. If this is true, fantasy teams will want to save their allocations with Ragan throughout the season.
My sleeper pick for Group C is David Gilliland. He has eight finishes in the top 10 in his career. Six of them have come at the superspeedways. Gilliland is worth a try on your team this week.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group C.
Blaney will be driving the No. 21 car for the Wood Brothers this week. The team has an alliance with Team Penske, so Blaney will be working with Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano throughout the weekend. Last year Blaney qualified fourth and finished 22nd at Talladega. He is the perfect pick for Group C this week.
Waltrip is a good insurance policy for your team this week. His average finishing position in the last four races at Talladega is 19.2. Waltrip has been good at avoiding the wrecks which is very important when selecting a driver for this race. His last wreck at Talladega came in 2012. This is a good week to take a chance with Waltrip on your team.
Other Good Choices: Justin Allgaier, Danica Patrick, Brian Scott and Bobby Labonte
Fantasy Live Picks
The strategy for winning your league this week in Fantasy Live will be to select drivers who qualify in the back who may have a good chance to move forward throughout the race. There are only 188 laps in the race, so teams will not score many points for leading laps. Bonus points for finishing differential is what will put your team at the top of the standings.
Keep in mind the prices of the drivers you have on your team. If you have Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch or Martin Truex Jr. at a discounted price, do not sell them for this race. My advice is to keep them on your team and the budget price, because you will want to use them next week at Kansas.
Here are the five drivers I selected for Fantasy Live for the race at Talladega:
Driver 1: Dale Earnhardt Jr. $27.50
Driver 2: Kurt Busch $24.00
Driver 3: Carl Edwards $21.25
Driver 4: Martin Truex Jr. $20.25
Driver 5: Michael McDowell $6.00
Pick to Win: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
* Driver prices based on prices at Richmond
Fox Fantasy Racing
The strategy for Fox Fantasy Racing is the same as the strategy for Fantasy Live. Starting drivers in the back of the pack will be the key to a high score.
There is no reason to select the high priced drivers this week for Fox Fantasy Racing. Try to select a balanced group of drivers between $10,500 and $7,500. These drivers will give you the best chance for a high score this week.
Here are my selections for Fox Fantasy Racing for Talladega:
Driver 1: Brad Keselowski $11,400
Driver 2: Matt Kenseth $10,900
Driver 3: Martin Truex Jr. $10,200
Driver 4: Kurt Busch $8,400
Driver 5: Carl Edwards $8,600
* Driver prices based on prices at Richmond
Farm Rich and Front Row Motorsports will return at the Talladega Superspeedway on the No. 38 Ford Fusion this weekend.
The foods company has been a loyal partner with the organization over the last two Sprint Cup Series seasons. In their first year with the team, David Ragan took the frozen foods company to victory lane in 2013.
"It's great to have Farm Rich back on one of our Front Row Motorsports cars," Gilliland said in a press release. "They've been a great partner the last couple years and even got to celebrate a victory. It will be our goal this weekend to get them back in Victory Lane again."
Gilliland has numerous success on the superspeedway tracks, earning three poles, three top five and six top 10 finishes in his career. He also helped push his teammate David Ragan to the win back in 2013."Farm Rich and Front Row Motorsports have developed a strong partnership since 2013, including a victory at Talladega, and we're super excited to be back at the speedway on May 3 with David Gilliland driving the No. 38 Ford,” added Shannon Gilreath, Farm Rich senior brand manager in a release. “We wish all the competitors a safe race and the best of luck in one of NASCAR's most exciting races."
Mears and his No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS were 17th in the weekend's opening practice session and would go on to qualify 25th Friday evening. While the ¾-mile oval racetrack was scheduled to be filled with 400-laps of racing action, Mother Nature had other plans when she blanketed the Richmond area with heavy rain, forcing the postponement of Saturday night's race to Sunday at 1:00 P M (ET). When the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series field arrived on the starting grid on Sunday afternoon, the skies were clear, the track was dry and the grandstands were filled with race fans.
Mears rolled off 25th after the green flag set the field underway. He quickly moved forward and was busy collecting positions when, on lap five, Danica Patrick made a left-hand turn into his GEICO Chevy, resulting in heavy contact and significant damage to his right front fender. Despite the damage, Mears managed to hustle into the top-20, but the car immediately tightened up after the incident, leaving him to battle an ill-handling racecar for the balance of the afternoon. The pit crew took advantage of each pit stop to ma ke adjustments to the No. 13 machine, but to no avail. When the checkered flag closed out a long day of racing, Mears was credited with a 30th place finish.
"We had a really fast car and picked up spots pretty quick, but the damage hurt us and the car tightened up a lot," Mears said. "The guys on this GEICO team worked hard to make changes, but we just couldn't get it right, back to where it was. We're going to take the car back to the shop and go through it and figure out exactly what was wrong with it. It definitely drove like something was broke." He continued, "Right now, we're focused on Talladega next weekend and the GEICO 500. Aside from being our primary sponsor, GEICO does a nice job of supporting our sport as a whole and I'm proud to be able to drive their car and represent such a great company. We're looking forward to an exciting weekend of hanging out with the Gecko."
The Germain Racing team will now pack up Mears and his GEICO Chevrolet and head to Talladega, AL, for the Gecko's main event, the GEICO 500.
Casey Mears and the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS will hit the track at Talladega Superspeedway for the weekend's opening practice session on Friday, May 1st, at 2:00 PM (ET), while final practice will follow at 4:30 PM (ET). Qualifying will take place on Saturday, May 2nd at 1:00 PM (ET).
The GEICO 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race is on Sunday, May 3rd, and it will be televised live on FOX beginning at 1:00 PM (ET). The Motor Racing Network (MRN) will carry the live radio broadcast, along with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.
- Richard Childress Racing teammates Ryan Newman, Paul Menard and Austin Dillon finished 11th, 15th and 27th, respectively, in the Richmond 400 at Richmond International Raceway.
- Menard ranks 13th in the Sprint Cup Series championship point standings, trailing current leader Kevin Harvick by 118 points, while Newman ranks 15th and Dillon ranks 24th.
- Kurt Busch earned his first win of the 2015 season and was followed to the line by Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Jamie McMurray and Joey Logano.
- The 10th race of the 2015 Sprint Cup Series season is the Talladega 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, May 3, 2015, which is scheduled to be televised live on FOX beginning at 1 p.m. Eastern Time and broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Satellite Radio, channel 90.
Austin Dillon Earns 27th-Place Finish at Richmond International Raceway
Debuting a special hood on his No. 3 American Ethanol Chevrolet in support of a 15 percent ethanol blend in America's fuel pumps this weekend at Richmond International Raceway, Austin Dillon earned a 27th-place finish in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. The 400-lap event, originally scheduled for Saturday night, was run Sunday afternoon after inclement weather forced NASCAR officials to postpone the start of the race. Dillon started 20th and noted that he was tight low and to the gas during his initial run, especially on take-off. The Richard Childress Racing pit crew attempted to remedy the handling conditions that Dillon was facing through a series of chassis adjustments during routine pit stops to no avail. It caused Dillon to fall two laps down to the race leader. Following a pit stop on lap 256 under caution for four tires, fuel and a double wedge adjustment, Dillon posted his fastest lap times of the race, running speeds consistent with the top-six cars even though he was scored in the 24th position, one lap down to the race leader. 100 laps later, Dillon was in the middle of a routine green-flag pit stop when another competitor spun on the racing surface, causing the caution flag to be displayed and Dillon to fall one additional lap down to the race leader. He took the wave around and restarted 29th on lap 338, eventually advancing to 27th for the race's finish. He moved down three positions, to 24th, in the driver championship point standings leading into the next race on the 2015 schedule, the Talladega 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3.
Start - 20 Finish - 27 Laps Led - 0 Points - 24
Paul Menard Finishes 15th at Richmond International Raceway in 300th-Career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Start
Paul Menard drove Richard Childress Racing's No. 27 CertainTeed / Menards Chevrolet SS to a 15th-place finish on Sunday afternoon at Richmond International Raceway. Originally scheduled for Saturday night, the 400-lap event was postponed until Sunday after inclement weather persisted in the Richmond, Va. area. Once the green-flag finally dropped, the Wisconsin native radioed he was experiencing a tight-center and loose-off handling condition. Crew chief Justin Alexander called for four tires, fuel, wedge and air pressure adjustments during the NASCAR-mandated competition caution on lap 50. Menard continued to fight the handling condition and visited pit road five additional times during the 300-mile event for four tires, fuel, wedge and air pressure adjustments. The Alexander-led team battled back from going a lap down and receiving the lucky dog to cross the finish line in 15th. This marks Menard's sixth top-15 finish of the season and moves the team up one position to 13th in the driver point standings. Up next for the No. 27 team is Sunday's event at Talladega Superspeedway.
Start - 15 Finish - 15 Laps Led - 0 Points - 13
PAUL MENARD QUOTE:
"We learned some things today that we will discuss and use for the next time we're here. I'm proud of my team for not giving up. We will be ready for the next one."
Ryan Newman Finishes 11th at Richmond International Raceway
Ryan Newman drove Richard Childress Racing's No. 31 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS to an 11th-place finish in Sunday's Richmond 400 at Richmond International Raceway. The South Bend, Ind., driver lined up 23rd after Mother Nature postponed Saturday night's 400-lap race until Sunday. The Quicken Loans team competed just outside the top 10 at halfway. For the majority of the event, Newman battled a combination of loose and tight-handling conditions. Crew chief Luke Lambert ordered a series of air pressure and wedge adjustments in an effort to improve the No. 31 Chevrolet. By lap 280, Newman drove up to 10th but then lost some valuable real estate during the long green-flag run to post 15th on the scoring pylon. With 50 laps to go, the team experienced an issue on pit road. As a result, Newman pitted a second time under caution to line up 17th. The final green-flag sequence started on lap 374 with Newman scored in 14th. He picked up three positions en route to an 11th-place result. Newman now ranks 15th in the championship point standings heading into next Sunday's restrictor-plate race at Talladega Superspeedway. Caterpillar will be on board as primary sponsor.
Start - 23 Finish - 11 Laps Led - 0 Points - 15
RYAN NEWMAN QUOTE:
"It wasn't the finish we were hoping for at Richmond but this team always works hard to get the most out of a challenging situation. We struggled in qualifying and it put us back a bit. Then we raced in or around 15th for most of the race. To finish one spot shy of a top-10 is a small victory for us. We really overcame a lot to get the finish and in doing so, we picked up another valuable spot in the championship standings."
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), turned in a dominating performance on Sunday at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway – leading six times for a race-high 291 laps – to score his first win of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and all but lock himself into the 16-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship.
“It’s an incredible feeling and a total team effort,” said Busch, now a two-time Richmond winner having won the fall race in 2005. “The way that everything came together just seemed like we were building and building and building toward a great finish like this. And I have this opportunity because of Gene Haas and everybody that’s part of our family at Stewart-Haas. It feels great to do this here in Richmond and to do it with Haas Automation, Chevrolet, Monster Energy, Mobil 1, Rush Truck Centers and everybody that’s part of our family. Tony Gibson is just an amazing crew chief, and I’m glad I’ve got the chance to work with him. Thanks to everybody, we got it done today.”
After starting third in the rain-postponed Richmond 400, Busch took the lead for the first time on lap 95 and maintained the top spot for the next 35 circuits around the .75-mile oval. Busch would go on to exchange the lead a handful of times with his SHR teammate Kevin Harvick over the course of the next 100-plus laps, but he never dropped lower than third in the running order.
Throughout the 400-lap event Busch noted only minor issues with the handling on his No. 41 Chevrolet, specifically asking for help with short-run speed during the middle stages of the race. Busch took the front spot for the last time on lap 354, leading the final 47 trips around the Richmond oval en route to victory lane.“This win is all about the team, the people and chemistry within the organization,” Busch said. “For us the last few weeks, we’ve not given away wins, but we’ve made some small mistakes and we’ve had some things go against us that just made us stronger. It really created a bond between all of us, and we knew that the wins would come. We didn’t need to force it. We sort of just settled in for the long run and here we are – winners in April. It feels good. We have plenty of time to do fun things to build the team up, get stronger, learn from all these races coming up and continue to go forward; and like Gene Haas said, one win is great but I want four or five more.”
Danica Patrick and the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) finished 25th in Sunday’s Richmond 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.
Patrick, who started in 21st, faced adversity throughout much of the race on Sunday afternoon, beginning when she was caught up in an accident with the No. 13 car on lap six. Patrick made a remarkable save to keep from spinning but dropped to 31st. The GoDaddy team reported a tire rub due to the damage caused by the incident on the left-rear quarter panel. Patrick wasn’t able to pit until the competition caution on lap 50 to repair the left-rear damage from the lap-six incident.
Patrick and the GoDaddy team rallied after the stop, and by lap 127 she was up to 22nd. However, as she was pulling in to pit on lap 129, the No. 15 car pulled out of its pit box, making contact with Patrick’s left-rear quarter panel and causing the GoDaddy team to scramble getting her into their pit box. Luckily, another caution came out quickly on lap 139, and the GoDaddy racecar was able to pit again to repair the damage from the previous caution period. By lap 156 Patrick had moved up into the 24th position.
Patrick and crew chief Daniel Knost made several additional changes in an effort to salvage their race, and Patrick had raced back up to 21st on lap 272. During a green-flag pit stop on lap 347, a debris caution came out and Patrick fell back to 28th, but she dug in and raced her way back into the top-25 by the time the checkered flag fell.“The race really didn’t go our way today,” Patrick said. “We struggled with accidents both on track and on pit road that didn’t do us any favors. Our team had to dig in and get everything we could out of our GoDaddy Chevrolet. When you have days like this, you just have to be proud of your team for sticking with it and coming out with a top-25 finish.”
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), finished second in the Richmond 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. It was his seventh top-two finish in nine Sprint Cup starts this season.
Harvick started the race in fifth place and raced his way to the third position by the competition caution on lap 50. He restarted third on lap 56 and raced up to second by lap 101. Following a stop on pit road when the next caution came on lap 129, Harvick managed to beat the field to the start-finish line first while on pit road on lap 130 to lead a lap. It marked the eighth time in nine Sprint Cup races that the No. 4 team has led a lap this season.
After yet another restart on lap 137, Harvick was second and remained there until he reported his car developed a tight-center, loose-off handling condition at lap 173. The condition was worsened by a long green-flag run, and he fell back to the eighth position before he came to pit road under green-flag conditions on lap 264 for multiple adjustments. The caution flag flew during the pit cycle, which put the No. 4 Chevrolet a lap down to the leaders in 12th position. Harvick and the No. 4 team elected to take the wave-around to return to the lead lap and restarted 12th on lap 179.
Following that restart, the No. 4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet came to life and immediately started its march back toward the front of the field. By lap 333, Harvick was back in the top-five and charging toward the front.
Harvick came to pit road for the final time on lap 353 as the race was under caution for debris. The No. 4 team took four tires and fuel but made no other changes, as the car was the best it had been all afternoon.
The final caution of the day came on lap 369 while Harvick was racing in the fourth position. He stayed out and restarted fourth with 25 laps remaining. Harvick raced to the third position as the field returned to green, then he passed Jamie McMurray for second with 18 laps remaining, but he was unable to chase down SHR teammate Kurt Busch for the win.
“I’m just really happy for everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing and Kurt (Busch) and everybody on the No. 41 team and everybody on our Jimmy John’s/Budweiser team on our No. 4 car,” Harvick said. “They’ve done a great job and made up a lot of ground after we lost it, and we were able to get back up and at least have a chance there at the end.”
Harvick was credited with leading twice, both times under caution, for a total of two laps to bring his laps-led total at Richmond to 987. Harvick has now led 952 total laps through the first nine NASCAR Sprint Cup races of 2015. He has only led more laps than that in a single season once – his championship season one year ago with 2,137 laps led.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, led the four-car SHR contingent by winning the rain-postponed Richmond 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
It was the 28th point-paying Sprint Cup win for SHR since its inception in 2009 and the organization’s third this season. Harvick won earlier this year at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway.
Busch started third and led six times for a race-high 291 laps around the .75-mile oval to bring his laps-led total at Richmond to 748. It was Busch’s 26th career Sprint Cup victory, his first this season and his second at Richmond.Harvick crossed the stripe .754 of a second behind Busch in the runner-up spot to give SHR a 1-2 finish. It was only the second time SHR drivers have finished 1-2 in a Sprint Cup race, with the previous time coming on July 17, 2011 when Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart finished 1-2 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.
Coming off a sixth-place finish last week at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, Tony Stewart was poised to earn his second straight top-10 finish in the rain-postponed NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.
Instead, after positioning his No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS in and around the top-10 for all but the last 40 laps of the 400-lap contest around the .75-mile oval, Stewart was left with a disappointing 41st-place finish after tangling with Dale Earnhardt Jr. on lap 360.
The two drivers made contact coming through the frontstretch as they began to enter turn one. Stewart spun down toward the apron while Earnhardt motored on. The damage to Stewart’s Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevy was minimal, but after coming to a rest, it would not restart. After numerous attempts to re-fire the engine, Stewart dejectedly lowered his window net and climbed from the car. Per NASCAR protocol, he was transported by ambulance to the infield care center where he was promptly evaluated and released.
It was a disappointing end to what had been another solid showing for Stewart. He qualified 13th and even after dropping to 15th at the beginning of the race with a car that was loose off the corners, Stewart rallied to eighth place by lap 127. Pit stop cycles and the cycle of his race runs – Stewart’s lap times would improve the deeper into a green-flag run he went – bounced Stewart in and out of the top-10 throughout the race. Stewart was battling Earnhardt for 13th when the incident happened, jettisoning Stewart’s chances for a second straight top-10.
At the other end of the racing spectrum was his Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) teammate, Kurt Busch. Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, led the four-car SHR contingent by winning the Richmond 400. Busch led six times for a race-high 291 laps en route to his 26th career Sprint Cup victory, his first this season and his second at Richmond.
The victory was the 28th point-paying Sprint Cup win for SHR since its inception in 2009 and the organization’s third this season. SHR driver Kevin Harvick won earlier this year at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway.
Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS for SHR, crossed the stripe .754 of a second behind Busch in the runner-up spot to give SHR a 1-2 finish. It was only the second time SHR drivers have finished 1-2 in a Sprint Cup race, with the previous time coming on July 17, 2011 when Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart finished 1-2 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 25th at Richmond.
In a rain delayed event that saw mother nature take her toll on Richmond International Raceway Saturday night in the Toyota Owners 400 we finally got going for an early afternoon race.
With Logano starting the day from the pole and the third of this early season with a speed of 127.071 on Friday afternoon over hometown favorite Hamlin who snagged the outside with a speed of nearly a half mile off from Logano at 126.796.
Logano leading a majority of the first 100 laps early in the event taking on challenges from Stewart Haas teammates Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick who finally prevailed following the second caution of the day for Joey Gase getting a little help from Aric Almirola to send him down into the backstretch wall. Following the green flag Busch was able to pull Logano from the lead bringing along Harvick.
Busch taking command of the event fending off a challenge from McMurray for several laps, before making way for McMurray to lead coming to a round of green flag pit stops that hung McMurray a lap down when the caution flag flew for Moffitt blowing a tire out of turn two. Getting the wave around for multiple cars saw Busch reassume the lead over Allagier who didn’t make a stop and Keselowski with a downed cylinder in the car.
Just past the 300 lap mark, McMurray was able to climb back to the bumper of Busch before a string of late race cautions were bought out for Stewart slamming the wall in turn one. This setting up the final 20 plus lap shootout with Busch heading up the line followed by McMurray, Johnson, Harvick, and Logano in hot pursuit.
When the checkered flag fell Kurt Busch rolled into Richmond victory lane with a bit of redemption. Following closely behind him to round out the top five Harvick, Johnson, McMurray, and Logano.
"I have this opportunity because of Gene Haas and everybody that's a part of our family at Stewart-Haas. It's an unbelievable feeling when you pull deep from within, you go through troubles and you know when you're accused of something and things go sideways. Your personal life doesn't need to affect your business life and I'm here in Victory Lane. It feels great to do it at Richmond."NOTE: Since Busch’s return from suspension he’s posted the second most amount of points with 222 just one point back from team mate Harvick’s 223.
After being suspended for three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races earlier this season after an alleged domestic violence incident, Kurt Busch won Sunday's postponed Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway in a dominating performance, virtually locking up a spot in this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
"It's an incredible feeling," said Busch, who was reinstated March 11 and granted a waiver into the Chase. "It's a total team effort. And the way that everything came together, it just seemed like we were building, building and building towards a great finish like this.
"I have this opportunity because of Gene Haas and everybody that's a part of our family at Stewart-Haas. It's an unbelievable feeling when you pull deep from within, you go through troubles and you know when you're accused of something and things go sideways. Your personal life doesn't need to affect your business life and I'm here in Victory Lane. It feels great to do it at Richmond."
Pole sitter Joey Logano led the first 50 laps of the race, until the scheduled competition caution waved allowing teams the opportunity to pit for fuel, tires and adjustments. The top 10 left pit road as they entered, but Jamie McMurray had to come down pit road a second time after being informed his team left lug nuts loose.
Logano led the field back to green and maintained the race lead through Lap 94, when Kurt Busch challenged and inherited the lead on Lap 95. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver pulled to an eight-tenths of a second lead by Lap 100 and extended it until a Lap 127 caution when Joey Gase wrecked on the backstretch.
Busch won the race off pit road and controlled the field through the halfway point with a 0.826 second advantage over Brad Keselowski in second. Through the long run, McMurray climbed through the field and momentarily challenged Busch for the top spot on Lap 259, but Busch reasserted himself a lap later.
McMurray regained control of the lead a lap later and led until green flag pit stops began on Lap 263 with McMurray pitting on Lap 265. Meanwhile, Keselowski stayed out and shuffled into the lead. Nearing the end of green flag stops, Brett Moffitt made contact with the wall in Turn 4 bringing out the fifth caution of the day, leaving only three cars on the lead lap.
Keselowski, Justin Allgaier and Busch all pitted under the yellow, with McMurray benefiting from the free pass, putting himself back on the lead lap. Fifteen cars behind them elected to take the wave around, putting 19 cars on the lead lap for the restart.
Busch checked out on the restart, ahead of Allgaier and Keselowski. Meanwhile, McMurray had to make another climb back through the field and made his way to the bumper of Allgaier on Lap 315 for second. Once past the HScott Motorsports driver, McMurray trailed Busch by more than four seconds.
With 50 laps to go, McMurray trimmed the lead down to less than three seconds, but the yellow flag waved a lap later, saving a number of the front-running teams from making their final planned stop under green.
The race resumed with 42 laps remaining and unchanged at the front. Two quick cautions set up for a 26-lap shootout between Busch, McMurray, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Logano.
Escaping the field quickly, Busch checked out, with the battle on for the runner-up spot. Harvick -- aptly nicknamed the "The Closer" -- made the pass on McMurray on Lap 382 and set sights on his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate for the win.
Harvick chipped away at his deficit, but the reigning champion was no match for Busch, putting a period on a stellar performance by claiming his 26th-career Sprint Cup Series victory and second at Richmond. The 36-year old led a race-high 291 of the event's 400 laps.
"Tony Gibson is an amazing crew chief and I'm glad I've got the chance to work with him," Busch said. "We got it done today."
Behind Busch and Harvick, Johnson was third followed by McMurray, Logano, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr. to round out the top 10.