After gaining the lead when teammate Brad Keslowski was fending off Kyle Busch and moving through the field with fresh tires on the final restart, Joey Logano will win the Toyota Owners 400 from RIchmond International Raceway under hot and slick conditions for his first win of 2017. Logano had to start at the back of the field due to changing a transmission on Saturday.
“I knew the 2 was so much faster than everybody and I had to get out there as quick and as far as I could. He was on his way to catch me. I think he was catching me a couple tenths a lap. That was all I had inside the car and I burned them up early trying to go,” said Logano post-race. “I am proud of the effort of the team. We executed under pressure today and brought a car home that was a 5th-10th place car home to victory lane.”
This is Logano’s 18th career win coming on his 300th start. Ford has won four of the first nine race of 2017. This is Logano's second victory at Richmond.
Keselowski finished second after the best long run car throughout the day. Keselowski ran up front for most of the race leading 110 laps. Despite having one of the cars to beat, Keselowski was upset after the race despite a second place finish.
“It was just hoping for another restart or the race to get extended for another 10 laps. I think we had a ton of long run speed today. That short run at the end...half the field came, half the field didn’t. I just got stuck in a lane of cars that didn’t go,” said Keselowski post-race. “By the time I did, he had a whole straightaway on me. I got it down to a couple of car lengths at the end. All and all I’m happy for Team Penske withe 1-2 finish. We’ll take it and move on.”
Denny Hamlin finished quietly in third after leading 59 laps during the race. Hamlin played a two-tire strategy in the second stage to give him the track position beginning on lap 211. According to the TV pit stop times, Hamlin’s pit crew was doing 10 to 11 second stops. However, NASCAR found a missing lug nut on the right rear tire post-race.
“We were competitive and our car drove really good. We were just missing some of the speed from the 2 (Brad Keselowski) and the 22 (Joey Logano) – they run a little more sideways than what we run and just they have more grip. I think we optimized our day for the most part and that’s about as good as we could do.”
Commitment line violations changed the complexion of the race, especially for Kyle Busch. When he leaders hit the pit lane after the final caution of the race, Busch was nabbed for violating the commitment line by not having all four tires below the line. NASCAR warned drivers in the driver’s meeting pre-race and over the radio before the green flag fell. Busch was unable to see the box due to the fact that Logano cut down to the pit lane at the last moment.
Busch declined full comment after the race about the incident, but told FOX. “Balls and strikes.” Busch walked away briskly without answering anymore questions. Busch finished the race in the 16th position despite running up front all race. Busch was one of six drivers busted for violating the commitment line.
There were 18 lead changes amongst eight different drivers. The caution flew nine times for 53 laps. The time of race was three hours, 14 minutes, and 34 seconds
Next up for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is the GIECO 500 from Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. Coverage from Talladega will be on FOX and Motor Racing Network beginning at 2:00 p.m. EST.
Despite the first two rounds of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying being dominated by Joey Logano, it was Matt Kenseth who grabbed the pole position for Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400 from Richmond International Raceway.
“I didn’t feel like I had the perfect lap but I had some great speed,” Kenseth said after qualifying. “The guys didn’t a great job adjusting in between rounds. We had enough speed that we only had to do one lap in each of the first two rounds. We improved a little bit on our second lap (in the final session).”
This was the first pole for Kenseth in the 2017 season, his 19th career pole.
Throughout the qualifying session, drivers were awaiting a cloud to create some shade on the racetrack. However, the shade never came.
Logano was scored as the fastest driver in the first round after posting the same speed as Kevin Harvick at 120.870 mph. Logano gained the top position due to his position in the points standing. Clint Bowyer was third, Jimmie Johnson was fourth, and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top-five. Notable drivers who did not advance to the second round include Aric Almirola, Paul Menard, Trevor Bayne, and Austin Dillon. Dillon made one lap at about 82 mph because no matter where he qualified, he would have to start in the rear after failing laser inspection five times.
Logano was fastest in the second round at 121.268 mph, while Harvick posted the second fastest speed in the round at 120.979 mph. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was third fastest, Jamie McMurray was fourth fastest, and Martin Truex Jr. rounded out the top-five in the second round. Bowyer was able to advance to the final round by being higher in points than Ryan Newman as both drivers posted a lap speed at 119.667 mph.
Kenseth played his game in the final round of qualifying to post a speed of 121.076 mph to top Ryan Blaney, who will start second. Truex Jr. will start third, Stenhouse Jr. will start fourth, and Logano will start from the fifth position.
Drivers will have two practice sessions on Saturday before Sunday’s running of the Toyota Owners 400. The race will be broadcasted on FOX and Motor Racing Network at 2:00 pm EST.
The Food City 500 for Kyle Busch was one that he would like to soon forget. The five-time winner was set to compete for his sixth victory at the 0.533-mile track, but tire issues plagued the driver.
Busch was fastest all weekend in practice sessions, but was did not show speed on Monday.
Busch slapped the wall the first time on lap 211, but was able to bring the car down pit road for repairs. When repairs were complete, Busch was 23rd and the last car on the lead lap.
Busch had battled up into the top-10 before the tire exploded the second time on lap 385. This time the damage was worse than the first one sending Busch and his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team behind the wall and out of the race.
Busch was baffled by what partook on the track.
“I didn’t need anything, I was the fastest one out there those last two runs picking cars off and driving from the back to the front after we lost our track position the first time. We had our issues and we were trying to march our way back up towards the front and get there and thought we were doing a good job of that and trying to be conservative with the tires because obviously they can’t make it through a full distance for us for some reason,” said Busch. “I don’t know, I don’t know if it’s fundamentally wrong what we’re doing, but it seems like all the rest of our five JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) cars are fine.”
Unlike previous tire issues, Busch was advised not to blame Goodyear for the problems.
Goodyear determined that the issues were bad bead related, not heat related. Goodyear made no further comment about the issues.
Busch was the only driver in the field to experience tire issues throughout the Food City 500. Because of the issues, Busch finished in the 35th position. He currently sits 11th in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points just 146 points behind leader Kyle Larson.
RIDGEWAY, Va.— Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Kyle Busch had at it during Sunday’s running of the STP 500.
In the second stage of the race, that ran from laps 130 to 260, Busch was setting a blistering pace lapping the field up to 17th position.
Early in the stage as Busch was about to lap Stenhouse Jr., but Stenhouse did not help but put on a fight with Busch. Stenhouse was not happy with Busch and was going to let him know it the next chance he got.
The opportunity for Stenhouse came on the final lap of stage two. Stenhouse was able to get to the bumper of Busch. Busch went higher than normal in the fourth turn because he was running a lane above where the rubber was being laid down. Stenhouse went low on Busch sending him up the racetrack. Stenhouse was able to get his lap back, and give Chase Elliott the stage win and playoff point.
After the race, Stenhouse mentioned that he had to do it for his team and sponsors to stay on the lead lap.
However, Busch had a different story to tell after the conclusion of the race.
“I actually was rolling into Turn 3 and was kind of going higher out of my way in order to let the 17 back by and give him the lap. That was my intent, and then he just drove through me. It cost me my spot to the 24, so I was hoping the I could rn off the corner side by side with the 17 and keep the 24 at bay and just keep my nose in front of his and be able to score the segment, and I was trying to be a nice guy, but nice guys don’t finish first,” said Busch.
Busch mentioned that he felt disrespected by Stenhouse as he was banging him (Busch) into the corners. Busch also mentions that this incident will come back and bite Stenhouse at a later date.
“You’ve just got to remember race car drivers are like elephants; they remember everything.”
Busch finished second in the STP 500, while Stenhouse Jr finished 10th.
RIDGEWAY, Va— In his first time at Martinsville Speedway, Daniel Suarez kicked off the first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice by getting a backup car prepared.
Suarez hit the wall going into the third turn resulting in the back end of the car being damaged.
“It just wheel hopped. I don’t know what was going on with my brakes. It was something weird. On the first run I felt something similar. Something was weird with my brakes and I just wheel hopped and here we are,” said Suarez after the accident.
However, things have changed drastically this week for Suarez.
Joe Gibbs Racing announced that Dave Rogers would be taking an indefinite leave of absence. Scott Graves was announced as the crew chief until Rogers comes back.
Suarez found out about Rogers at the same time as everyone else early Wednesday evening.
“I pretty much got to know this almost at the same time as you guys. It was something that took me as a surprise and actually it took him as a surprise as well.”
Suarez understands and respects Rogers and the decision he has made. However, he does not know when the return of Rogers will be.
Luckily for Suarez, he will be working with Graves, his crew chief in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Suarez and Graves were able to win the championship in 2016.
It was important for Suarez and Joe Gibbs Racing to put somebody in that knows the style of Suarez.
“I had some input for sure to put Scott in the seat because I know Scott. I know what he can do. I know what we’ve done together. It was important to put somebody there that I knew already.”
What does Graves know about Suarez?
“I was expecting to race with him more than 14, 15 times in XFINITY stuff this year so we know him very well. He knows what I need to be fast. He knows my weak points as well. I think having Scott jump into the Cup program I think is important. And I hope we don’t have to get back any. I hope we stay the same or even forward. And try to move from there.”
In his rookie season, Suarez sits 19th in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points standings. He comes into Martinsville with back-to-back top-10 finishes.