It was another strong day for Joe Gibbs Racing with teammates battling it out for the win down to the final lap before Carl Edwards managed to edge Kyle Busch for the win in today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ Toyota Owner’s 400 at Richmond International Raceway.
It was back-to-back wins for Edwards who won a week ago at Bristol Motor Speedway. Meanwhile Busch held on to finish second. Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth both joined their teammates in the top ten with sixth and seventh-place finishes respectively despite each having to overcome adversity in the first half of the race.
Edwards started the No. 19 XFINITY Toyota from the fourth position and was fast all afternoon racing his way to the front of the field by lap 64. For the second straight week Edwards was the lap leader on the afternoon. This time he led the pack seven different times for 151 total laps on the afternoon. It was a move on the final lap and final turn of the day however that earned him a trip to victory lane. Edwards settled in to run behind his teammate Busch following the final restart of the afternoon and patiently waited for an opportunity. That opportunity would come into to turn three on the final lap when Edwards got to the bumper of Busch and used a small bump to create the space needed to make the pass for the win. The win was Edwards’ second of the season after winning just a week ago in Bristol.
Busch started the No. 18 Banfield Pet Hospital Toyota from the ninth position and was fast throughout the afternoon. He entered the top five just 50 laps into the race running third at lap 53 and took his first lead of the day on lap 158. Great work by the Banfield Pet Hospital crew on pit road put Busch back out front for the final restart of the day with 35 laps to go. He would go to the front of the field and managed to hold off his teammate Edwards for several laps. Edwards finally made it to Busch’s bumper entering turn three of the final lap and used just enough of a bump to slide the 18 up the track. Busch would come home with a strong second-place finish.
Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota from the fifth position and the Richmond, Va. area native and was content running just inside the top five through the opening green flag run of the race. He would settle in to run third behind his teammates Edwards and Busch prior to the lap 100 mark. An uncontrolled tire on the FedEx team’s second round of stops would result in a penalty and left Hamlin to restart at the back of the lead lap cars. The FedEx crew delivered a fast stop the next time down pit road gaining five spots which allowed Hamlin to restart in 12th just before halfway. He would drive his way back into the top ten and was running seventh with 150 laps remaining. Hamlin would go on to finish the race in sixth.
Kenseth started the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota in the 13th position and showed early speed as he drove his way into the top ten. An electrical problem would force the Dollar General team to change out the battery prior to the halfway mark of the race. Amazingly the 20 crew was able to make the change and keep Kenseth on the lead lap allowing him to restart in 19th. He would patiently work his way back to the top ten while battling a mostly loose handling race car the remainder of the afternoon. Kenseth was back in the top ten with 100 laps remaining and was able to battle to a seventh-place finish.
Edwards captured the win, followed by Kyle Busch in second, Jimmie Johnson third, Kasey Kahne fourth and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top five. There were eight cautions for a total of 49 laps and 23 lead changes among eight different drivers.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Talladega Superspeedway next Sunday afternoon. Live coverage on Fox will start Sunday, May 1 at 12:30 PM (race starts at 1 PM ET). The race will also be carried on Sirius NASCAR radio channel 90.