After qualifying 7th and not showing much speed in the weekend’s lone practice session, Kyle Busch was unstoppable after taking the lead during the first caution and won the 36th annual Virginia529 College Savings 250 at Richmond International Raceway.
Busch dominated, leading 197 laps. But Busch didn’t show a lot of speed until a lap 50 caution, where J.J. Yeley spun out Justin Marks on the frontstetch. Busch had a fast pit stop and took the lead, and outside of surrendering it to Erik Jones for two laps during green flag pit stops led the rest of the way.
It’s the 2015 Sprint Cup champion’s 84th career XFINITY Series victory and his eighth of the year. Busch has now won 167 national touring series races, 33 away from Richard Petty’s 200 mark. It is also Joe Gibbs Racing’s 13th win this season.
Jones finished second while Brad Keselowski took third place. It matches Keselowski’s best finish of the season (It’s his third, third place finish) while Jones got his 12th top five of the season. Elliott Sadler, the points leader, finished fourth in front of his hometown crowd while Justin Allgaier rounded out the top five.
Austin Dillon ended the night seventh after starting on the pole and leading the first 51 laps. Alex Bowman started second but fell to ninth by the finish while Ryan Reed clinched a berth in the first XFINITY Series Chase by finishing 11th.
There are four drivers who can still make the XFINITY Series Chase on points with one race remaining, with only two spots available. Blake Koch (11th) has a 23 point cushion while Ryan Sieg is close behind with a 20 point parachute. Dakoda Armstrong sits as the first driver out of the Chase while Jeremy Clements is 29 points back. If Armstrong, Clements, Ross Chastain, Ryan Preece, Ray Black Jr., BJ MCLeod, or Joey Gase can eke out a shocking victory, they will make the Chase while Koch’s advantage shrinks to just three over Sieg.
In addition to the lap 50 caution, there was another caution for debris at lap 165 for Brandon Brown’s team after an uncontrolled tire got out of the pit box.
Qualifying happened a couple of hours before the start of the race, and there was only one incident of note. Chris Cockrum, driving the No. 25 Chevrolet for Rick Ware Racing, leaked oil around the racetrack for a lap without realizing it, then outright blew the motor going into Turn one. It caused a somewhat lengthy red flag period in the session, and the No. 25 team essentially withdrew. Austin Theriault’s team, who DNQ’d, threw a No. 25 on the car and ended up starting the race instead.