NASCAR Cup Series results at Richmond: Harvick wins Federated Auto Parts 400, his second straight win
Just eight days ago, the narrative around Kevin Harvick was that he was on a nearly two full season winless streak and didn’t look particularly close to winning with just 13 rounds led all season. But it only took Harvick eight days to completely reverse that narrative and position himself as perhaps one of NASCAR’s most dangerous drivers right now.
After taking the lead from a dominating Joey Logano, Harvick paced the field in the final quarter of Sunday’s race and played tire strategy just right to win the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway, earning his second victory consecutive. Harvick fended off a serious challenge from Chris Buescher in the final green-flag race, then survived a charge from Christopher Bell – who was on cooler tires – to hang on and win by a car length.
Harvick’s win is the 60th of his career, tying him with Kyle Busch for ninth on NASCAR’s all-time win list. It is also his fourth career win at Richmond, joining previous triumphs in 2006, 2011 and 2013.
Federated Auto Parts 400 Unofficial Results
- #4 – Kevin Harvick
- #20 – Christopher Bell
- #17 – Chris Buescher
- #11 – Denny Hamlin
- #9 – Chase Elliott
- 22- Joey Logano
- #19 – Martin Truex Jr.
- #10 – Aric Almirola
- 18 – Kyle Busch
- 12 – Ryan Blaney
Just like in the spring, Sunday’s race came down to pit and tire strategy at the end. Chris Buescher made his final pit stop just before Harvick with around 60 laps to go, allowing Buescher to close the gap between them and battle for the lead before crashing out. But Christopher Bell stopped a dozen laps later, which allowed him to be faster than the two best cars in the last 10 laps.
In a similar race in April, Harvick finished a narrow second behind Denny Hamlin. But this time he managed to hang on even as Bell came back seconds to chase him all the way to the checkered flag, continuing his sudden surge towards another playoff run.
“We’re just going to keep doing the things that we’re doing, right? I think we just have to keep an open mind about things and keep improving and keep understanding the car,” Harvick told NBC Sports. “To understand what we could have done better today, to understand what we could have done better in qualifying yesterday, and to do the same thing again and again.”
Going into Sunday’s race, much of the focus was on the battle for the last open playoff spot between Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr. But instead of either fighting for a win , both pilots ended up seeing a potential nightmare. scenario – a new winner emerging and knocking them both under the cut line – plays out almost in the final rounds.
Chris Buescher, 23rd in points entering Richmond, watched his car come to life over the final 100 laps as cloud cover set in and created cooler conditions. After successfully toppling Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano on a long green-flag run, Buescher toppled Harvick for the lead on the same tire strategy and nearly made the pass for the lead as the two raced through lapped traffic.
Unfortunately for Buescher – and fortunately for Blaney and Truex – that was not the case. Buescher would eventually fade and finish third: a great run for the driver from Prosper, Texas, but not one that will help him in the big picture for the playoff race.
“I think it’s a bit easy with this format to feel that third place doesn’t matter, but it’s good to be close and to keep progressing and improving over time. summer,” Buescher told NBC Sports. “Really great to finish here, really proud of everyone.
“I just burned the rear tyres. In the end it’s on me. The doubled traffic didn’t do us any favors either, but in the end it just had to keep the rears a bit better underneath so we could have shot a little better there to chase them for the win.”
With a slump averted up front, both Truex and Blaney were able to post top-10 finishes, with Truex finishing seventh and Blaney 10th. However, Blaney was able to rack up enough stage points to widen his gap over Truex – Blaney finished sixth in Stage 1 and fifth in Stage 2 – and now holds a 26-point advantage for the final playoff spot. playoffs with two races to go in the regular season.
Ross Chastain Against The World
After starting from outside pole, Ross Chastain looked like the driver to beat at the start of the race, leading 80 laps in all and winning Stage 1. Once again, however, Chastain’s day was defined by a contact with another pilot.
On a lap 240 restart, Chastain moved up the track to make room for Ty Dillon at the bottom, but in doing so he slid into Kyle Busch on the outside of Chastain. Busch was breaking away, and then Chastain was also turned away from contact with Erik Jones. Four cars were recovered in all, with Jones sustaining terminal damage.
Busch would eventually make the best of the situation, recovering to finish 10th while Chastain fell back all the way to 18th at the checkered flag – allowing him to keep his anger from going beyond mere sarcasm.
“We had Chastain this week,” Busch told NBC Sports. “We were his victim this week.”
Chastain has likely become a dirty word within the Joe Gibbs Racing fabrication shop, as Chastain has now had on-track run-ins with every JGR rider this season. In addition to Busch, Chastain had incidents with Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. and Christopher Bell last week in Michigan.
Race to the Playoffs
With two races to go, 10 drivers have now locked themselves into the playoffs: Chase Elliott, Ross Chastain, Joey Logano, William Byron, Denny Hamlin, Tyler Reddick, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell and Kyle Busch have all officially dropped out. seats. due to their race victories and position in the points.
Five drivers — Alex Bowman (+107), Daniel Suarez (+89), Austin Cindric (+71), Chase Briscoe (+64) and Kurt Busch (released with an injury) – have a spot in the playoff standings due to a win, but haven’t clinched a points spot yet. Ryan Blaney holds the final playoff spot with a 26-point lead over Martin Truex Jr., and Truex is the only driver with a realistic chance of entering the playoffs with points.
Aric Almirola (-214), Erik Jones (-226), Bubba Wallace (-249) and everyone else at the back will likely need to win one of the two remaining regular season races to qualify for the playoffs.
Summary of race results
- Joey Logano led a 222-lap race, looking like peloton class in Stage 2 and then the first part of Stage 3 before the track went from being in full sun to under cloud cover. Logano dropped to sixth in the end, but his lead laps were a season high in a single race and were the highest since he led 234 laps at Martinsville in June 2020.
- Aric Almirola recovered admirably from a poor qualifying effort, working his way into the top 10 at halfway and scoring an eighth place finish. It gives Almirola his sixth top 10 of the season – more than he scored in 2021 – and snaps a streak of two consecutive DNFs.
- While Chris Buescher ended up carrying the RFK Racing banner, Brad Keselowski was not far behind. After a top-10 qualifying effort, Keselowski finished fourth in Stage 1 and moved back to 15th, giving him his fourth top-15 finish in the past five races.
- Now in the race to try to find a job for 2023, Ty Dillon had one of his best runs of the entire season. Dillon raced in the top 15 throughout the day before a takeoff violation, but he still managed to recover enough to finish a respectable 17th.
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr. had zig-zagging designs where everyone zig-zagged, running long on a cycle of green-flag saves in Stage 2 in an effort to buy time on the rest of the field once he got newer tires. Then Stenhouse missed the faceoff line coming to pit road, hitting Martin Truex Jr. in the process and getting caught speeding when he finally made it to pit road . He will finish 22nd.
- Chase Briscoe climbed all the way to second place in Stage 3, but his day went haywire after a fire developed in his rocker panel that ended up filling his cockpit with smoke – the latest in a series of internal fire issues we’ve seen in the past three weeks. Briscoe lost three laps as his crew worked to put out the fire, leaving him a disappointing 23rd.
The NASCAR Cup Series heads to the Finger Lakes region in upstate New York and the historic Watkins Glen International for next Sunday’s Go Bowling at the Glen. The race is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET on USA Network.
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