Kyle Busch takes vic­tory in play­off race at Rich­mond

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS -

RICH­MOND, VA. —Kyle Busch is start­ing to won­der why he even spends time try­ing to qual­ify well at Rich­mond Race­way.

Five months af­ter win­ning the spring race on the 0.75mile oval from the 32nd start­ing spot, Busch did even bet­ter Sat­ur­day night, win­ning from 39th to com­plete a sea­son sweep of the NASCAR Cup Se­ries races.

“Yeah, I’m not go­ing to qual­ify here any­more,” he said af­ter his 50th ca­reer vic­tory, sixth at Rich­mond and first in the fall. “It’s a waste of time for us.”

Be­sides, once the green flag flies, his for­tunes change.

“I don’t know why. I just can­not qual­ify here, but we’ve got a re­ally good race car when it comes down time to have a race and es­pe­cially the later it gets,” he said.

Busch, sent to the rear of the field at the start be­cause of unau­tho­rized ad­just­ments to his Joe Gibbs Rac­ing Toy­ota, passed Brad Ke­selowski with 38 laps to go and held off hard-charg­ing Kevin Har­vick.

“To start dead last, come up through the field and win this thing? That’s right Rowdy Na­tion. All for you, baby,” Busch said af­ter climb­ing from his car. “I fi­nally won a fall race here at Rich­mond.”

Har­vick closed a gap of more than 1.5 sec­onds over the fi­nal few laps, but was not able to de­prive Busch of ty­ing him with a sea­son-best seven wins this sea­son.

Martin Truex Jr., who swept the first two stages be­fore a penalty forced him to play catch up, ral­lied for third, fol­lowed by Chase El­liott and Aric Almirola.

“The prob­lem is when you get back there, to pass those guys, you’ve got to re­ally use up your tires,” Truex said. “We did re­ally good for only hav­ing one cau­tion thrown in there. It went well. We needed more cau­tions so we could pit for tires. What a hot-rod we had tonight . ... They re­bounded well from the pit road mishap.”

It was the first time all sea­son that the three driv­ers who have dom­i­nated all sea­son claimed the top three spots in a race.

Busch and Brad Ke­selowski have al­ready clinched spots in the next round of the play­off by win­ning the first two play­off races, and Truex joined them on points by win­ning the first two stages.

Busch and Ke­selowski, a long­time ri­val seek­ing his fourth con­sec­u­tive vic­tory in the se­ries, bat­tled for the lead for much of the last 100-plus laps. Ke­selowski grabbed the top spot on lap 343, but Busch took it back 20 laps later be­fore Ke­selowski faded, even­tu­ally fin­ish­ing ninth, and Har­vick picked up the chase.

Truex Jr., the de­fend­ing se­ries cham­pion, re­mains the points leader by 16 over Busch, 28 over Har­vick and 30 over Ke­selowski.

JOSH HEDGES/ GETTY IM­AGES

Kyle Busch cel­e­brates in Vic­tory Lane af­ter win­ning the Fed­er­ated Auto Parts 400 at Rich­mond Race­way on Sat­ur­day night.

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