JGR gets 1-2 finish at Richmond
Amanda Vincent is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or wilsoncountynews.com.
Joe Gibbs Racing has dominated NASCAR Sprint Cup racing at Richmond International Raceway the past few years, and that domination continued with Saturday night's Crown Royal presents the Matthew and Daniel Hansen 400.
JGR driver Kyle Busch led more than half the race -- 235 of the 400 laps, including the last 84 -- on his way to his second win of the season.
"We had a really, really good car," Busch said.
According to Busch, he used something he learned from teammate Denny Hamlin in the fall event at Richmond last year, but he wouldn't say specifically what it was.
His JGR teammate, Hamlin, finished second for his best finish so far this season. As a matter of fact, the drivers finishing in positions two through four posted season bests. Kasey Kahne was third and David Ragan finished fourth to post his first top-five in over two years.
"We (he and Busch) were pretty much equal," Hamlin said. "He was just better than me on restarts."
Carl Edwards rounded out the top-five.
The first 107 laps of the race were relatively calm. By that point, pole sitter Juan Montoya had slipped back through the field somewhat and the Gibbs duo of Busch and Hamlin were already in the first two spots.
Montoya and Ryan Newman made contact for the first time in the race to bring out the first caution on lap 108. The contact between the two resulted in Montoya hitting the wall and eventually having a new deck lid and spoiler put on his car.
the same two drivers also brought out the third caution of the race around lap 240. Out of frustration, Newman radioed his team that he'd settle things with Montoya after the race. At the end of the race, Newman said that he was heading to the NASCAR hauler to talk to NASCAR officials about the incidents with Montoya. Meanwhile, Montoya left the race track.
While the first half of the race was relatively incident-free, with the caution flag waving only two times in the first 200 laps, the second half of the race was caution-filled. By the end of the race, the caution flag waved eight times, the last time being with about 100 laps to go for a multi-car accident that involved Jeff Gordon, Paul Menard, Matt Kenseth, David Reutimann, Mark Martin, Jamie McMurray and Bobby Labonte.
Most of the cars involved sustained only minor damage and were able to continue. Jeff Gordon, however, was out of the race after the incident.
The frequent cautions throughout the second half of the race, especially between laps 200 and 300, resulted in a variety of pit strategies, from pitting to staying out and from two tires to four tires. Because of the varying strategies, several different drivers, including Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth and David Reutimann led laps but didn't stay up front for long.
Through the seemingly constant change in the faces at or near the front throughout that stretch of the race, one thing did remain constant, both Busch and Hamlin were somewhere in the front mix.
Other drivers finishing in the top-10 included Clint Bowyer in sixth, A.J. Allmendinger in seventh, Jimmie Johnson in eighth, Tony Stewart ninth and Brian Vickers 10th.