Photo via Twitter/@PlanBSales
To anyone not racing in Joe Gibbs equipment, good luck finding a win this Fall. The four Toyotas of JGR are outclassing the entire Cup Series field with no signs of slowing down. For the first time in the team’s history, all JGR cars finished in the top four and Martin Truex Jr. claimed his sixth win of the season, which gives him back-to-back wins and a sweep of the Richmond races.
From the drop of the green flag, you could already tell who was going to win this race. It was the Kyle Busch and Truex Jr. show all night long. Truex claimed the first stage. Kyle Busch claimed the second stage and the two would duke it out in the final stage for the race win.
It looked as though Kyle Busch would be the victor of this battle but Truex was able to fight his way through lapped traffic better than Busch and passed him with 25 laps to go to put a cap on another dominant performance.
Denny Hamlin was the favorite going into this race and ran in the top five for the entire night but could only pull off a third-place finish. Erik Jones put on the performance he needed to avoid a must-win situation at the Charlotte Roval next Sunday with a fourth-place finish.
The biggest surprise of the night was Ryan Newman. Newman started mid-pack but was able to work his way through the field thanks to fast pit stops and aggressive moves on track to walk away with a sixth-place finish. Newman rockets into ninth place in the playoff standings with a gap of 13 points ahead of the cutline.
Kyle Larson was the only high-performing Chevy with a seventh-place finish. Larson puts himself eighth in points and has a comfortable margin in front of the cutline at +24.
However, tonight could not have gone worse for Hendrick Motorsports.
From the jump, all four cars were better off not showing up as they were absent from contention. Chase Elliott started inside the top five and that would be the end of his night as he would fade on every restart and throughout the long runs. He wound up finishing 14th place and got passed by Bubba Wallace with two laps to go. William Byron and Alex Bowman were caught up in an accident involving Austin Dillon in the first stage that would put both of their nights to rest. Both drivers finished laps down and are now the two men on the cutline. Byron is 16th, Bowman is 17th, and they are separated by two points heading into the Roval next Sunday.
Truex Jr., Harvick, Kyle Busch, Hamlin, Keselowski, and Logano are locked into the Round of 12 on points. Elliott and Larson hold a comfortable margin and should have no trouble finishing in positions that advance them to the next round. Newman, Blaney(+8), Almirola(+3), and Byron are above but near the cutline, and Bowman, Jones, Clint Bowyer(-5), and Kurt Busch(-15) will be looking to knock them out.
If you thought last year’s race at the Charlotte Roval was absolute madness, just wait and see what next Sunday will bring.