Truex Jr. Sweeps Richmond, Leads “The Chase” (9-21-19)

By: Becca Cottingham

Headline Photo From: LA

It is a beautiful night at Richmond Raceway for the second race in the Chase. Tempers are going to flare as Richmond can be a tough track to get around at three-fourths of a mile. The drivers are racing to keep above the cut line for the Chase. So every lap is going to be critical for the drivers in the Chase. Those who had fought races last week, will need a near perfect race and or a win. Plus they will need the other drivers at the bottom of the standings to have a bad race. Brad Keselowski started on the pole and has been very dominating the first forty laps of the race While both Denny Hamlin and Spring winner Martin Truex Jr, has made up some ground on him. By lap fifty we have Martin Truex Jr. challenging for the lead at Richmond. But the issue is we have driver twenty fifth back causing a slow down. Those drivers are already a lap down if not more. At one point we were three wide entering one of the turns. Richmond is wide, but there is not a lot of rubber laid down in that top groove in the turns. With only about ten laps to go will we see pit strategy come to play or are the drivers going to stay out for playoff points? Right now points for top seven drivers and the tenth driver are going to be key. Kyle Busch is currently in second and after a not so hot finish at Las Vegas points in stage one would be helpful it secure his position in the next round. Martin Truex Jr was able to hold his lead and get the stage one win.

Kyle Busch came into the pits in second place but her came out of the pits in first. We had the Alex Bowman get into Austin Dillon and possibly put a hole in the tire. Austin Dillon then came back and got into Alex Bowman and got sideways which brought out a caution. A couple drivers hit pit road for service and including both drivers involved in the on track incident. Since Kyle Busch has gotten out front it looks like he has not looked in his rearview mirror. He has one a second lead over Martin Truex Jr. This second stage has been all about Joe Gibbs Racing. They have the first four drivers in stage two. Including Kyle Busch and Erik Jones who had a rough race last week at Las Vegas. Erik is trying to get stage points in order to make up for some of what he lost last week. To hopefully make it to the second round of the chase. Jimmie Johnson was able to make it in the top ten to break up all of the Chase drivers that stayed in the top ten most of stage two. Bubba Wallace was also able to get the free pass to get back on the lead lap. Kurt Busch got hit with a penalty too fast entering pit road.

We start the third and final stage with Kyle Busch leading and all but Jimmie Johnson are in the Chase for the championship. The big question is with two hundred laps in the final stage will Joe Gibbs Racing be able to keep the top spots for the rest of the race? But we had Reed Sorenson have a tire issue and hit the wall hard. Almost all of the drivers will be heading down pit road for four tires and fuel. This is only the second caution of the race due to an issue on the track. Jimmie Johnson made a huge mistake and blew past his pit box. He came out first on pit road, but had to come back down for service. This cost him being in the top ten. Joey Logano was able to get the free pass for roughly the third time. With the restart we only have one non-playoff contender in the top ten. But we have some moves being made at the restart. Brad Keselowski was able to get out front and Kyle Busch has been slowly moving backwards. Both Ryan Newman and Martin Truex Jr was able to pass him too. Kyle Busch has gathered himself back and is making his way slowly back forward, but he is still over a second behind the race leader. Truex Jr and Brad then battled it out for the first place position and continue with this battle. We had two play off drivers get into each other that will need to be watched for any possible tire rubs.

We still have four drivers in a serious position to be cut from round one in the chase. Aric Almirola, Erik Jones, Clint Bowyer, and Kurt Busch without a win tonight will need to win next week. Erik Jones and Ryan Newman battled it out on the track for position as well going into the corner. Erik Jones was able to get around, this will gain him more points for the end of the race. But should make for interesting post race interviews. David Ragan then locked up the breaks getting onto pit road for service. Even with the caution flag coming out earlier we will see green flag pit stops. Drivers and crews will have to be perfect, as it so easy to loose a lap at Richmond. Martin Truex Jr, got spun out by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. on fresh tires. This brings out a huge caution. Martin Truex Jr was able to quickly get that car righted and only lost a few spots. Martin Truex Jr will need a clean and quick stop to get him back out front. He came in third and left pit road third. If he hopes to get back to the front he will have to do so the restart. This means teammates will be back at the front of the pack and Truex thought about taking it three wide. He decided that it would be wise to not take a chance with less than hundred laps to go after the spin. It should be a very fun and interesting night of interviews after the action on the track. Truex got shuffled back a little bit and slowly made his way through the cars. He was showing how strong his car was and with roughly twenty six laps to go they battle for first with Kyle Busch. From there he left his teammates behind him and hit his marks. The checkered flag waved for Martin Truex Jr as the winner for the second chase win as well as his sweep of Richmond. Joe Gibbs racing prior to post race inspection finished one through four. Ryan Newman is now showing below the cut off line heading into Charlotte’s Roval.