Matt Kenseth won the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway in a dominant fashion on Saturday night, capturing his fourth win of the season. Kenseth led 352 laps and skated to a clean victory ahead of Kyle Busch in second and pole-sitter Joey Logano.
“These guys gave me a great car – thanks to Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) and all these guys standing behind me. They had the pit stops we needed, they kept us out front so we were really superb in the long run and we had to work for it pretty hard in the short run.” Kenseth said.
The evening started off with major weather concerns as it was storming on and off throughout the day. However, the rain dissipated around 90 minutes before the race started and was never a factor afterwards.
Between Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) teammates, Kenseth, Busch, and Denny Hamlin, Toyota led all but 25 laps. Joey Logano was the lone non-Gibbs driver to lead laps.
“[Richmond] used to be one of [our] better tracks and it hasn’t been the last couple of years. Tonight all our cars ran really well,” said Kenseth following the race.
After just three victories in the previous season and a half, JGR has won nine of the last 12 Sprint Cup Series races, being stopped only by Logano at Watkins Glen and Bristol and Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Daytona.
There was trouble for the 95 of Michael McDowell on lap 293. McDowell accidentally hit a caution truck and practically destroyed the rear of his Leavine Family Racing Ford. McDowell would later tell MRN that the No. 38 Ford of David Gilliland in front of him swerved at the last second, and his spotter didn’t see the truck. McDowell and the safety crew were unharmed in the incident.
There was some late race drama with the No. 43 Ford. Aric Almirola, on the outside looking into the Chase, gained a spot under the final caution and restarted third with 17 laps to go. Kenseth arguably jumped the restart, and Almirola never got close to the lead.
“It is tough. This is what we race for. We race to win races. We race to run for a championship.” Almirola said.
There were six cautions for 47 laps. Four were for debris on the race track, while Martin Truex Jr. slammed into the wall on lap 39. There was a multi-car incident on lap 113 between McDowell, Michael Annett, and Jeb Burton where Burton turned Annett around on the backstretch.
There were no changes to the Chase grid following the race, outside of Kenseth’s victory changing his seeding from tied for third to tied for first. On stopping Joe Gibbs Racing in the Chase, defending champion Kevin Harvick said, “Hopefully they’ll be peaky like they normally are and we can capitalize on the solid momentum we’ve had throughout the last two years and do what we have to do.”
Federated Auto Parts 400 Full Results:
1st. Matt Kenseth
2nd. Kyle Busch
3rd. Joey Logano
4th. Aric Almirola
5th. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
6th. Denny Hamlin
7th. Jeff Gordon
8th. Brad Keselowski
9th. Jimmie Johnson
10th. Clint Bowyer
11th. Carl Edwards
12th. Kyle Larson
13th. Jamie McMurray
14th. Kevin Harvick
15th. Kurt Busch
16th. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
17th. David Ragan
18th. Kasey Kahne
19th. Danica Patrick
20th. Ryan Newman
21st. Casey Mears
22nd. Brian Scott
23rd. Trevor Bayne
24th. AJ Allmendinger
25th. Justin Allgaier
26th. Paul Menard
27th. Austin Dillon
28th. Sam Hornish Jr.
29th. Tony Stewart
30th. Landon Cassill
31st. Greg Biffle
32nd. Martin Truex Jr.
33rd. David Gilliland
34th. JJ Yeley
35th. Brett Moffitt
36th. Matt DiBenedetto
37th. Alex Bowman
38th. Cole Whitt
39th. Jeb Burton
40th. Jeffrey Earnhardt
41st. Reed Sorenson
42nd. Michael McDowell
43rd. Michael Annett
The 16 Nations battling in the 10 race Chase:
1st seed Jimmie Johnson (Winner of Atlanta, Texas, Kansas, and Dover) 2012 points
1st seed Kyle Busch (Winner of Sonoma, Kentucky, Loudon, and Indianapolis) 2012
1st seed Matt Kenseth (Winner of Bristol, Pocono, Michigan, and Richmond) 2012
2nd seed Joey Logano (Winner of Daytona, Watkins Glen, Bristol) 2009
3rd seed Kevin Harvick (Winner of Las Vegas and Phoenix) 2006
3rd seed Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Winner of Talladega and Daytona) 2006
3rd seed Kurt Busch (Winner of Richmond and Michigan) 2006
3rd seed Carl Edwards (Winner of Charlotte and Darlington) 2006
4th seed Brad Keselowski (Winner of Auto Club) 2003
4th seed Martin Truex Jr. (Winner of Pocono) 2003
4th seed Denny Hamlin (Winner of Martinsville) 2003
5th seed Jamie McMurray (10th in points) 2000
5th seed Ryan Newman (12th in points) 2000
5th seed Jeff Gordon (13th in points) 2000
5th seed Clint Bowyer (14th in points) 2000
5th seed Paul Menard (15th in points) 2000
The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship begins next week at Chicagoland.