Race Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Recap (Ended at Lap 100 ):
● Bowyer started 25th and finished 21st.
● Twenty-five laps into the race, Bowyer said his No. 14 ITsavvy Ford Fusion was “loose in and off the corner”.
● Despite trying different lines around the track to help his car, it was to no avail. “I can’t run high because I can’t cut down,” said Bowyer on lap 44 while running 20th.
● This handling condition persisted through the end of the stage, where a scheduled, four-tire pit stop was welcome.
● Bowyer pitted at the end of the stage for four tires and fuel along with significant tire pressure and wedge adjustments.
Stage 2 Recap (Ended at Lap 200):
● Bowyer started 22nd and finished 19th.
● Running 19th on lap 127, Bowyer keyed his mic to say his ITsavvy Ford was starting to get tight in the center of the corner.
● Bowyer made a scheduled, green-flag pit stop on lap 157 for four tires, fuel and a right-rear wedge adjustment. This dropped him to 22nd and put him one lap down.
● Those fresh tires, however, allowed Bowyer to track down the leader and pass him just before the stage ended, earning his lap back.
● Bowyer pitted for four tires and fuel at the end of the stage, with specific adjustments to the right rear, which included inserting a spring rubber, more wedge and air pressure.
Stage 3 Recap (Ended at Lap 400):
● Bowyer started 19th and finished 10th.
● By lap 230, Bowyer had climbed to 15th and declared that his ITsavvy Ford was “three times better” than it had been.
● Bowyer made a scheduled, green-flag pit stop on lap 267 for four tires and fuel. Came in 14th and returned to the track in 13th.
● Shod on four fresh Goodyears, Bowyer cracked the top-10 on lap 275.
● Martin Truex Jr., winner of Stage 1 and Stage 2, came from the back of the back to pass Bowyer for 10th on lap 293.
● As lap 300 ticked off the board, Bowyer radioed to crew chief Mike Bugarewicz, “really loose” as he fell to 12th.
● “Loose in and off,” said Bowyer about his ITsavvy Ford on lap 322 while running 11th.
● Bowyer took advantage of a caution period and pitted on lap 328 for four tires and fuel with a left-rear wedge adjustment.
● Restarted in 12th on lap 334 and continued in this spot with 50 laps to go. He was able to track down 11th-place Alex Bowman on lap 362 and then grab 10th place from Erik Jones on lap 387.
● Bowyer waged a spirited battle with Brad Keselowski for ninth on the final lap, but Keselowski ultimately prevailed.
● This was Bowyer’s 13th top-10 of 2018 and his 14th top-10 in 26 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Richmond.
● Kyle Busch won the Federated Auto Parts 400 to score his 50th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his seventh of the season and his sixth at Richmond. His margin of victory over second-place Kevin Harvick was .777 of a second.
● There were three caution periods for a total of 23 laps.
● Only 13 of the 40 drivers in the Federated Auto Parts 400 finished on the lead lap.
Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 ITsavvy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“That’s one of the hardest top-10s we’ve ever had to work for. We were loose in and off the corner all night, and we threw a bunch of changes at it to try and get it right. We made some headway with it and salvaged an ok finish, but ok doesn’t cut it in the playoffs.”
Playoff Standings (with one race to go before Round of 12):
1. Martin Truex Jr. (2,141 points) +85 points
2. Kyle Busch (2,125 points) 1 win
3. Kevin Harvick (2,113 points) +57 points
4. Brad Keselowski (2,111) 1 win
5. Joey Logano (2,081 points) +25 points
6. Aric Almirola (2,079 points) +23 points
7. Kyle Larson (2,073 points) +17 points
8. Kurt Busch (2,071 points) +15 points
9. Chase Elliott (2,066 points) -10 points
10. Austin Dillon (2,066 points) +10 points
11. Alex Bowman (2,061 points) +5 points
12. Ryan Blaney (2,060 points) +4 points
13. Clint Bowyer (2,056 points) -4 points
14. Jimmie Johnson (2,054 points) -6 points
15. Erik Jones (2,039 points) -21 points
16. Denny Hamlin (2,031 points) -29 points
The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Bank of America Roval 400 on Sunday, Sept. 30 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. It is the third race of the 10-race playoffs and the cutoff race for the Round of 12. It starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBC beginning at 1 p.m.