Martin Truex Jr. completes Richmond sweep with playoff win
Martin Truex Jr. rebounded from a spin with 85 laps to go to win Saturday’s Cup Series playoff race at Richmond Raceway, completing a sweep of the season’s two races on the short track and giving him wins in the first two playoff races.
Truex, who spun from contact with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. while leading and restarted third, passed teammate Kyle Busch with 26 laps to go and went unchallenged to the checkered flag.
Truex now has six wins this year and 22 in the last four seasons.
“I feel like Danny Sullivan or something right now,” Truex told NBCSN, referencing to the driver who spun and then won the 1985 Indianapolis 500. “I’m speechless. Unbelievable job, all my guys. ... Had a heck of a race with Kyle and Denny (Hamlin) all night long, really. We just kept plugging away at it, plugging away at it. That’s what we always do, just keep digging and we never quit.
“Next thing you know I’m catching (Busch) for the lead. I’m like, ‘Cool, here we go.’”
Truex led a Joe Gibbs Racing sweep of the top three spots, with Truex leading Busch and Denny Hamlin. Erik Jones originally finished fourth, but his No. 20 Toyota failed post-race inspection and his finish was disqualified, giving him a last-place finish. Jones’ car failed in the rear toe section in the optical scanning station.
Earlier in the day, Gibbs’ grandson Ty, won his first career NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Pole-sitter Brad Keselowski is now credited with fourth place and Ryan Newman completed the top five.
The top 10 was rounded out by Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Daniel Suarez and Jimmie Johnson.
Busch and Harvick both clinched spots in the second round on points. Busch’s winless streak is now at 14 races.
STAGE 1 WINNER: Martin Truex Jr.
STAGE 2 WINNER: Kyle Busch
WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Ryan Newman earned his second top five of the year, his third straight top 10 ... Denny Hamlin has finished in the top three in six of the last nine races ... Bubba Wallace finished 12th for his third top-15 finish in the last five races ... Jimmie Johnson earned his first top 10 with crew chief Cliff Daniels.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Reed Sorenson finished 37th after he got in the wall on Lap 243 and brought out the caution … Kurt Busch and Aric Almirola each received speeding penalties during the race and finished 18th and 16th ... Chris Buescher’s streak of top-18 finishes ended at 16 races after he placed 31st, seven laps down ... Alex Bowman and William Byron placed four laps down in 23rd and 24th.
NOTABLE: This was the eighth time in their careers that Truex and Kyle Busch have finished 1-2 (or Busch was 1-2 with Truex) and the third time this year. ... Truex is the fourth driver to win the first two playoff races, following Matt Kenseth (2013), Tony Stewart (2011) and Greg Biffle (2008).
WHAT’S NEXT: Bank of America Roval 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway at 2:30 p.m. ET Sept. 29 on NBC
First off, sorry to @MartinTruex_Jr and his fans. Didn’t anticipate locking the RF up and getting into him. Glad he was able to come back & still win. It killed our great run we had going inside the top 10. The team brought a great @FastenalRacing mustang. Hate i messed it up pic.twitter.com/lTxovsNp0T— Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (@StenhouseJr) September 22, 2019