By Jason Schultz
Kyle Busch won the race in Richmond last night, but the race could have had multiple outcomes. Penalties hurt drivers like Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards who had very fast cars and a chance to win the race. Tony Stewart struggled incredibly on restarts which cost him the race. Kyle Busch beat Stewart off pit road under the final caution which was the race winning move for Busch.
Pole sitter Mark Martin led the first 30 laps before being passed by Carl Edwards. The competition caution came out on lap 51. The competition caution came out because the rain that hit the track earlier in the day. Then the race off pit road let Carl Edwards regain the lead followed by Hamlin and Harvick. Mark Martin slipped back to seventh.
On the ensuing restart Jeff Gordon got loose which slid him up the hill then Gordon made contact with Kurt Busch. Then in turn 3 Kurt Busch got up into Jeff Gordon again causing moderate damage to each car. The green flag would stay out, and Gordon would have to pit. The second caution came out on lap 117 when Kurt Busch spun on the backstretch.
After the pit stops Kevin Harvick would be the leader for the first time in the race. On the restart when three cars were battling for the lead Carl Edwards would become the leader. The next caution flew around lap 230 for debris. Then with 114 laps to go Kyle Busch took the lead for the first time. Next came the most confusing part of the young Nascar season.
During green flag pit stops the caution came out for Jeff Burton hitting the wall, some drivers were just finishing up their pit stops and then a couple of drivers missed pit road before the caution came out were losing ground. This mess left only three cars on the lead lap. Many drivers would get the wave around and regain position on the lead lap.
Then during the pit stops one of Jimmie Johnson’s crew members rolled a tire in the pit box instead of carrying it back to the pit wall. So, Johnson was penalized and had to go to the rear of the field. Coming to the restart we had 14 cars on the lead lap, and no one was sure if the leader was Stewart or Edwards.
Then Carl Edwards on the restart went too soon and the apparent leader according to Nascar was Tony Stewart who spun his tires but Nascar only saw Edwards speed up and beat Stewart to the line, which is illegal. Nascar gave the black flag to Edwards forcing Edwards to serve a pass through penalty and give up his lead. This confusing mess gave Stewart the lead with 76 laps to go in the race.
The top five drivers were Stewart, KyBusch, Earnhardt Jr, Kahne and Allmendinger. Carl Edwards later commented on the radio regarding the black flag; “It’s not cool to get a race taken from you like that.” The final caution of the race came out on lap 386 with 14 laps to go for debris. This caution would bunch the field up for an exciting restart.
Then Kyle Busch beat Tony Stewart off pit road to gain the lead. Coming up on the restart, Tony Stewart would spin his tires for about the fourth time giving Kyle Busch a decent size lead and Dale Earnhardt Jr. was second. Earnhardt Jr. didn’t have enough for Kyle Busch and Busch went on to win his fourth straight spring race at Richmond. Kyle later commented in victory lane; “Last caution was saving grace for us.” Earnhardt Jr. wasn’t all displeased with finishing second, Earnhardt Jr. later commented; “Even with brakes working the 18 had a better car.”
Then Tony Stewart would comment; “We gave it away on pit road” which to anyone who watched the race a lie because Stewart had the worst restarts of his career during the race. Kyle Busch had two major season accomplishments in Richmond; his nationwide team with Kurt Busch driving won their first nationwide race as an organization and then Kyle wins his first race of the season in Sprint Cup. Next week Nascar heads off to one of the most anticipated races of the season, Talladega.
Results via Nascar.com
|1||5||18||Kyle Busch||Toyota||M&M’s Ms. Brown||47/4||400||Running|
|2||10||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||National Guard / Diet Mountain Dew||42/0||400||Running|
|3||22||14||Tony Stewart||Chevrolet||Mobil 1 / Office Depot||42/1||400||Running|
|4||7||11||Denny Hamlin||Toyota||FedEx Freight||40/0||400||Running|
|5||9||5||Kasey Kahne||Chevrolet||Farmers Insurance||39/0||400||Running|
|7||23||15||Clint Bowyer||Toyota||5-hour Energy||37/0||400||Running|
|8||1||55||Mark Martin||Toyota||Aaron’s Dream Machine||37/1||400||Running|
|9||16||2||Brad Keselowski||Dodge||Miller Lite||35/0||400||Running|
|10||2||99||Carl Edwards||Ford||Ford EcoBoost||36/2||400||Running|
|11||24||17||Matt Kenseth||Ford||Ford EcoBoost||33/0||400||Running|
|13||31||27||Paul Menard||Chevrolet||NIBCO / Menards||31/0||400||Running|
|15||12||39||Ryan Newman||Chevrolet||U.S. Army Reserve||29/0||400||Running|
|16||4||22||AJ Allmendinger||Dodge||Shell / Pennzoil||28/0||400||Running|
|17||19||47||Bobby Labonte||Toyota||Bush’s Baked Beans||27/0||400||Running|
|18||28||16||Greg Biffle||Ford||3M “Give Kids A Smile”||26/0||400||Running|
|19||3||29||Kevin Harvick||Chevrolet||Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches||26/1||400||Running|
|20||21||83||Landon Cassill||Toyota||Burger King / Dr Pepper||24/0||399||Running|
|24||18||20||Joey Logano||Toyota||The Home Depot||20/0||399||Running|
|25||8||56||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||NAPA Brakes||19/0||399||Running|
|26||11||43||Aric Almirola||Ford||Smithfield “Helping Hungry Homes”||18/0||398||Running|
|27||15||78||Regan Smith||Chevrolet||Furniture Row / Farm American||17/0||398||Running|
|28||13||51||Kurt Busch||Chevrolet||Phoenix Construction Services||16/0||397||Running|
|30||29||93||Travis Kvapil||Toyota||Burger King / Dr Pepper||15/1||397||Running|
|32||38||34||David Ragan||Ford||Front Row Motorsports||12/0||394||Running|
|33||33||10||David Reutimann||Chevrolet||Tommy Baldwin Racing||11/0||394||Running|
|34||42||32||Reed Sorenson||Ford||Virginia Faith & Freedom Coalition||0||392||Running|
|35||40||33||Stephen Leicht||Chevrolet||Little Joes A
utos.com / Link-Belt
|36||41||38||David Gilliland||Ford||Long John Silver’s||8/0||355||Running|
|37||34||30||David Stremme||Toyota||Inception Motorsports||7/0||139||Brakes|
|38||32||26||Josh Wise *||Ford||Morristown Driver’s Service||6/0||127||Accident|
|39||25||98||Michael McDowell||Ford||Curb Records||5/0||67||Brakes|
|40||43||74||Cole Whitt||Chevrolet||Turn One Racing||0||29||Vibration|
|41||35||87||Joe Nemechek||Toyota||AMFMEnergy.com / Pellet & Wood Stoves||0||28||Brakes|
|42||39||119||Mike Bliss||Toyota||Humphrey Smith Racing||0||23||Rear Gear|
|43||36||195||Scott Speed||Ford||Tommy Williams Drywall||1/0||19||Electrical|