Richmond Raceway

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Penalty report from Richmond Raceway

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NASCAR has issued just one penalty from its weekend at Richmond Raceway.

Randall Burnett, crew chief on Tyler Reddick‘s No. 2 Chevrolet in the Xfinity Series, has been fined $5,000 for a unsecured lug nut after Friday’s race. Reddick finished fourth in the race.

The other Kyle – Larson – hopes break turns ‘crappy’ season around

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While Kyle Busch has been the best driver and gotten the most headlines this season in Cup, the other Kyle – Kyle Larson – has become virtually a forgotten man whose year has been one of forgettable finishes for the most part.

Larson finished last in Saturday night’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway, the victim of a crash on Lap 125 of the 400-lap event.

It extended Larson’s rough and frustrating season.

The California native has plummeted in the last five races, both in finishes and in the standings.

Since his best finish of the season (sixth at Phoenix), Larson has had last-place showings at Texas (39th) and Richmond (37th), both due to crashes. He also was 12th at Fontana, 18th at Martinsville and 19th at Bristol.

The expression on Larson’s face tells the tale of how frustrating the season has been for him. Getty Images.

Also since Phoenix, Larson has fallen from sixth in the Cup standings to 19th.

When asked his thoughts about how the first quarter of the 2019 season has been for him, Larson didn’t try to sugarcoat things.

It’s been a pretty crappy start to the year,” he said bluntly. “I hate the start to the season I’ve had.”

More specifically about Richmond, it was more of the same bad luck for Larson.

We didn’t have great speed tonight, but on the weeks that we have speed, we still run into issues,” Larson admitted. “On that restart (the start of Stage 2), I got stuck in the middle.

I probably squeezed whoever was underneath me (Daniel Hemric) and caused some tire damage and we had to pit to fix that. But they didn’t do a good job of pulling the fenders out and then I got a flat and was back in the wall.”

Larson is hopeful that with having next weekend off for Easter, the break will give him a break, as well and that his luck will turn around once the series resumes April 28 at Talladega.

In 10 career starts at NASCAR’s largest oval, Larson has two top-10 finishes. He crashed and finished last in last spring’s race but rebounded for an 11th-place finish in the fall playoff race there.

Hopefully, this (Easter) break is a good time and we can re-group,” he said.

And just maybe, people will start talking about the other Kyle in a positive fashion once again.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Clint Bowyer earns fourth straight top 10 with Richmond finish

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After a rather unmemorable start to his 2019 season, Clint Bowyer has turned up the heat in the last four Cup races, earning four straight top-10 finishes.

The last three have seen the Stewart-Haas Racing driver in the mix for a win, only to have it slip away.

Saturday night at Richmond Raceway, Bowyer hounded eventual race winner Martin Truex Jr. for much of the final 35 laps

But a tight car and late brush with the wall caused his No. 14 Ford to fall prey to Joey Logano with four laps left as Bowyer settled for a third-place finish.

“This place is a challenging race track,” Bowyer told Fox Sports afterwards. “I got to (Truex) and couldn’t keep the nose with the air on it and it got really tight. As I continued running in his wake, I got tighter and tighter, and all of a sudden Joey ran us down.

“Next thing you know, he’s on the outside of you and the rest is history.”

Two of Bowyer’s 10 Cup wins have come at the .750-mile track and Saturday’s result is his first top five there since the fall 2014 race.

“It is frustrating,” Bowyer said. “In hopes of still trying to win the race I needed to stay on the bottom and hope that (Truex) slipped up in traffic or something. Next thing you know I lost my nose down there and (Logano) got to the outside. If I didn’t give up that spot (Kevin Harvick) was gonna get me too. You had to give up one to save one.”

Bowyer was one of two SHR drivers to place in the top five, with pole-sitter Harvick following him in fourth.

Harvick was in the top 10 most of the night and placed in the top five in all three stages, like Bowyer.

It was strong showing after Harvick placed 13th last week at Bristol, a result of penalties for inspection failures that sent him four laps down to start the race.

Harvick has placed in the top 10 in seven of the nine races this year. His four top-five finishes this year have all been in fourth place.

“I like nights like this when we can take a car that is a seventh to ninth-place car and adjust on it and make it so it is capable of contending at the end,” Harvick said. “We ran those guys down but we just ran out of time. I am proud of everyone on our Mobil 1 Ford for hanging in there and fighting and we had another good night on pit road. It was a solid night.”

What Drivers Said after Richmond

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Here’s what drivers had to say after Saturday night’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway:

Martin Truex Jr. – Winner: “I’m really excited to win here at Richmond. I’ve always really enjoyed this track. I’ve always loved coming here. The short track win – everybody kept asking me when it was going to happen. Tonight we didn’t have the best car, but we’ve lost here with the best car a bunch of times. We just fought, we battled. … (On Logano getting close late in the race) I was struggling the last 40 laps. I had no front turn. I was just real, real tight in that last run. You just had to hold them off. Being out front was important tonight.

“Thanks to the pit crew, they kept us out there. They had a tough year and a tough week last week. We beat up on them pretty good all week after Bristol and they had the best stop of the year tonight. Just really proud of everyone. Really, really happy to get our first win with (Joe) Gibbs and definitely our first short track win is pretty awesome too. … (How difficult was it late in the race) It’s like driving in the snow and trying to hit a line of six to eight inches in the center of the corner. It’s just – it’s lack of grip. The car wasn’t doing anything I wanted to do that last run. We got really, really tight. Being out front was really the key and trying to do all I could to not screw up and hold those guys off. It was definitely really, really difficult.”

Joey Logano – finished second: “We had a car that was capable of winning for the third week straight and we didn’t win. That part is frustrating. We need to clean up some mistakes on our end. We lost the lead there on a pit stop. We gotta get faster there. That is when we lost control of the race at that point and fell back to third and had a decent green-flag cycle that got us up and then we reeled in (Truex) and (Clint Bowyer) from pretty far back. I was watching them race and thought that if I was just patient and saved my tires, I saw them coming off the corner sideways every time. They were a little faster than me but I knew they were going to kill their stuff and they did. I got there, I was just a couple laps late getting there. I was able to get to (Truex) but it just wasn’t enough. It is kind of a double-edged sword. You go to the bottom and you can’t get the drive to clear ‘em and getting to the outside is pretty tough. Just couldn’t get there. Ran out of time. Needed a few more laps.”

MORE: Results, standings from Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond

CLINT BOWYER – finished third: “This place is a challenging race track. I got to him and couldn’t keep the nose with the air on it and it got really tight. As I continued running in his wake, I got tighter and tighter, and all of a sudden Joey ran us down. Next thing you know, he’s on the outside of you and the rest is history. I don’t know what I could have done any different. All-in-all, it was a good day for us. But man, you hate to get that close. I want to get to victory lane and thought this was our night but I guess we’ll have to wait ’till next time.”

Kevin Harvick – finished fourth: “I like nights like this when we can take a car that is a seventh to ninth place car and adjust on it and make it so it is capable of contending at the end. We ran those guys down but we just ran out of time. I am proud of everyone on our Mobil 1 Ford for hanging in there and fighting and we had another good night on pit road. It was a solid night.”

Denny Hamlin – finished fifth: We really closed on the leaders there at the end. We were fast, really fast the last 20 laps. We just didn’t have enough time. We battled from the back and really couldn’t gain a whole lot on restarts, but just really grinded our way two or three positions each run and found our way up in the top five there at the end. I could at least see the leaders. Certainly a great day for our FedEx Camry. We wanted to win but we just didn’t have the winning car. We would have liked to have tuned it during happy hour, we just didn’t have enough time. I think we maximized what we had out of our car. We just didn’t quite have the car to battle with those guys until late in the day and by then they had just built too big of a lead.”

Austin Dillon – finished sixth: “We had a meeting on Monday and talked about what we needed to do here at Richmond Raceway as a team and then we came here and we did it, so I am really proud of everyone on this Richard Childress Racing team. We had a really fast AAA Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 tonight, especially during the last run. I think we actually had a little something for at least the top three spots. We had a little bit of a mess-up on our last pit stop and lost some track position, but we passed some good cars there at the end, including Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski. I’m really proud of the AAA team. I just wish we could have been a little further forward to see what we had. I saved a lot of my stuff for the end and was ready for that last run. But, we didn’t have enough. I’m definitely excited about the direction our team is going. It’s always good to go into the off weekend with a solid, top-10 finish.” 

BRAD KESELOWSKI – finished seventh: “We had a lot of short run speed and unfortunately it came down to long runs at the end. Overall, it wasn’t a bad day. It was good. We needed the race to come to us with short runs at the end and it didn’t. I like short tracks, I think they are a lot of fun. It is hard to pass, but that is racing, that is how it is going to be. I can’t see the whole picture, I am only in the car. I know we cycled back, but I couldn’t tell you why.”

Ryan Newman – finished ninth: “Our Roush Performance Ford Mustang was good. We needed some track position to start and I think we could have done something with it. We had good lap times at points but just battled track positioning. We got blocked in on the first pit stop and set us back even farther than when we started. I am proud of the guys. They did a good job in the pits and we had a good car.”

Paul Menard – finished 10th: “It was kind of an uneventful night really, for Richmond. We started ninth and just kind of stayed in the back half of the top 10 all night long. The guys really stepped up their game on pit road and we gained some spots or we maintained and that is what you need when you start running up front. It was a really solid day for us.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – finished 16th: “We tried all kinds of adjustments but unfortunately they didn’t help my Fifth Third Ford,” Stenhouse said. “Our teammate had a strong run so we will look at his notes and see what we can improve on. We have an off weekend coming up so we can regroup and get ready for Talladega.”

Daniel Suarez – finished 18th: “We had a difficult race tonight, especially after my mistake on pit road. Our Haas Automation Ford Mustang was very good early in the race during the long green-flag run, but we couldn’t make the adjustments to stay that way until the end. It was tough to get through traffic and get spots back after we went down a lap. We learned a lot and we have a good team, so we will come back later this year and be better.”

Daniel Hemric – finished 19th: “Coming out of Richmond with a top-20 finish? We’ll take it. This No. 8 team is focused on putting one foot in front of the other. It’s great to have a group of guys that haven’t given up on me. We didn’t finish exactly where we wanted, but we definitely out-kicked our coverage from the positions we’ve put ourselves in over the last few weeks. We’ll take it and hopefully it’s a building moment for everyone on this No. 8 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet team. I still love racing at Richmond and I feel like I know what I need when we come here in the Fall to contend and run where our teammate Austin Dillon was tonight. Those guys had good speed all weekend, so hopefully we can trend a little bit in that direction and build on it.”

Kyle Larson – finished 37th: “It’s been a pretty crappy start to the year. We’ve had decent speed. We didn’t have great speed tonight, but on the weeks that we have speed, we still run into issues. I hate the start to the season I’ve had. On that restart, I got stuck in the middle. I probably squeezed whoever was underneath me and caused some tire damage and we had to pit to fix that. But they didn’t do a good job of pulling the fenders out and then I got a flat and was back in the wall. But, hopefully this break is a good time and we can re-group. I hate it for McDonald’s and Chevrolet and everybody on our team.”

By Jerry Bonkowski

Results, points after Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond

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Martin Truex Jr. led 186 laps and held off a charging Joey Logano to win Saturday night’s Cup race at Richmond Raceway.

It’s Truex’s first short-track win in the Cup Series and his first overall win for Joe Gibbs Racing

The top five was completed by Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin.

After a speeding penalty early in Stage 2, Kyle Busch bounced back to finish eighth. He has not finished outside the top 10 through nine races.

Click here for race results.

Point standing

Busch remains the points leader through nine races with 400 points

Logano is second, trailing him by 20 points.

The top five is completed by Hamlin (-34 points), Harvick (-51) and Brad Keselowski (-87).

After his win, Truex is sixth in the standings (-89).

Click here for the full standings.