NASCAR returns to the short track Saturday for the second Cup Series playoff race of the season at Richmond Raceway. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. on NBCSN.
Justin Allgaier swept the weekend’s Xfinity Series races at Richmond, winning events on Friday and Saturday. The Cup Series races on the same 0.75-mile Virginia track this evening.
Like Allgaier, Kevin Harvick is looking to start a streak in the Cup Series after winning the first playoff race at Darlington last weekend. He leads the series in points (2,106) and race wins (eight). Harvick is starting on the pole for tonight’s 300-miler.
Joey Logano, who finished third last weekend, is also starting in the front row based on NASCAR’s performance-based formula, which uses weighted metrics from the previous race to determine the starting order for the next race throughout the playoffs.
Stage breaks for the Federated Auto Parts 400 will come on laps 80, 235 and 400.
Follow along here for lap-by-lap updates from Richmond Raceway. Refresh this page for the latest updates and follow NASCAR reporter Alex Andrejev on Twitter at @AndrejevAlex.
FINAL: Keselowski wins, advances
Brad Keselowski dominated the final 2/3 of the race and advanced the round of 12 in the NASCAR playoffs. Denny Hamlin finished 12th, which clinched him a spot in the round of 12, as well, based on points. Martin Truex Jr. finished second and Joey Logano third. Both ran in the top five for a majority of the race.
|Pos.||Driver||Car No.||Time Behind|
|2||Martin Truex Jr.||19||2.568|
|12||Denny Hamlin||11||1 lap|
|13||Kurt Busch||1||1 lap|
|14||Cole Custer||41||1 lap|
|15||Christopher Bell||95||1 lap|
|16||Matt Kenseth||42||1 lap|
|17||Matt DiBenedetto||21||1 lap|
|18||Ricky Stenhouse Jr||47||2 laps|
|19||Ryan Blaney||12||2 laps|
|20||Ryan Preece||37||2 laps|
|21||William Byron||24||2 laps|
|22||Erik Jones||20||2 laps|
|23||Ryan Newman||6||2 laps|
|24||Chris Buescher||17||3 laps|
|25||Michael McDowell||34||3 laps|
|26||Bubba Wallace||43||3 laps|
|27||Corey Lajoie||32||4 laps|
|28||Ty Dillon||13||4 laps|
|28||Daniel Suarez||96||4 laps|
|30||John Hunter Nemecheck||38||4 laps|
|31||Jimmie Johnson||48||5 laps|
|32||Quin Houff||0||10 laps|
|33||Brennan Poole||15||10 laps|
|34||JJ Yeley||27||12 laps|
|35||Joey Gase||51||13 laps|
|36||Reed Sorenson||77||13 laps|
|37||James Davison||53||15 laps|
|38||Timmy Hill||66||300 laps|
10:25, Lap 355: Drivers pit, leaders stay the same
With 45 laps remaining, Keselowski remains in the lead folloed by Truex Jr. and Dillon. Two drivers that are going for one pit strategies are Kurt Busch, who is in sixth place and Matt Kenseth, who is in 11th. We’ll see how the gamble pays off for those two.
10:11, Lap 321: Top three remain in place
It’s still Keselowski up front. And it’s still Logano in second and Truex Jr. in third. Dillion is fourth and Elliott fifith. Most all of them are going for the two pitting strategy, meaning they will have fresher tires later in the race and will be able to drive more aggressively. Could make for a fun end of the race.
9:50, Lap 269: Logano chasing Keselowski
Keselowski is still running up front, but the rest of the order up front has shuffled. Logano is running second, Truex Jr. is third, Elliott is fourth and Ky. Busch fifth. At this point, everyone is strategizing how many pit stops they want to take in the final stage -- one or two.
9:33, Lap 235: Brad Keselowski locks in Stage 2 win
Keselowski holds onto the lead, separating himself from Dillon as the stage ends, but his team notes Truex in third, saying the No. 19 has a lot of speed. Logano and Elliott make the top-five, following by Ky. Busch, Ku. Busch, Almirola, Kenseth and Harvick in top-10 for points. Harvick made quick work of his setback penalty to get back to the top-10.
9:25 p.m., Lap 218: Keselowski makes the pass
The No 2 Ford driver runs to the lead as Dillon loses some speed. Once he gets by, Keselowski is able to put a second between him and Dillon as the stage winds down.
9:21 p.m., Lap 213: Keselowski on Dillon’s tail
The battle for the lead between Keselowski and Dillon continues, with less than a fourth of a second between the drivers. They are both trying to avoid lapped-traffic at this point.
9:10 p.m., Lap 180: Austin Dillon having a night
Austin Dillon closes in on Harvick, passing the No. 4 to again run out front. He eventually puts over a second between him and Keselowski in second. Harvick pits again and receives a commitment line violation, putting him further back in the running order. Jimmie Johnson is also hit with a penalty (pass-through). Dillon is followed by Keselowski and Logano, then Truex and Kyle Busch in the top-five.
8:52 p.m., Lap 157: Green flag pits stops
Matt DiBenedetto pits early from out of the top-10 and Harvick is the first leading driver to pit during green, followed by Johnson and Wallace, then Dillon, then Kenseth and a group of Chevys. Toyotas (Hamlin and Bell) pit later, followed by Logano, Truex and Keselowski a few laps later (Harvick re-takes the lead when those driver pit). The order is Harvick, Dillon and Almirola in the top-three.
8:43 p.m., Lap 121: Keselowski to first
After a stage of side-by-side racing, Keselowski gains momentum near the finish line and make his pass of Logano on the outside, then gets out front with clean air. Hamlin is in 17th, Dillon is in 11th after both were sent to the rear. Dillon cracks the top-10 a few laps later. Byron is lowest playoff driver running in 21st.
8:38 p.m., Lap 110: Penske battle up front
With the speeding penalties issued, Logano, Harvick and Keselowski restart at the front, but Keselowski quickly gets up to P2. Jimmie Johnson needed to make a repair and restarted 33rd. A battle ensues up front between the two drivers as Truex Jr. gets to third. Harvick and Elliott round out the top-ten. Byron has struggled to return to the top-10 after he briefly ran there in stage 1. Bowyer has also dropped this stage.
8:20 p.m., Lap 80: Denny Hamlin wins Stage 1 at hometown track
Hamlin led all laps after taking the top spot from Austin Dillon after the competition caution. Dillon finished in second, but BOTH drivers get a speeding penalty on pit road. At the green-and-white checkered flag, the finishing order is Hamlin, Dillon, Logano, Keselowski and Harvick in the top-five. Bowman, Truex, Elliott, Stenhouse and Bowyer round out the top-ten. Custer, the Busch brothers and DiBenedetto finish out of the top-10 and don’t get stage points.
8:06 p.m., Lap 38: Competition caution and Hamlin to P1
The flag comes out for the competition caution on Lap 30 and the leaders pit. Austin Dillon wins the race off pit road, followed by Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick to hold their spots on the restart, but when the race goes green, Denny Hamlin (restarting in the top-five) runs next to Dillon on the inside, then makes the pass. He quickly jumps out to a 1.5 second lead.
7:54 p.m., Lap 20: Austin Dillon takes the lead from Kevin Harvick
Dillon drives up to the lead from a third place start, bumping Joey Logano from behind in the process. Dillon gets past Logano then takes the lead from leader and pole-sitter Harvick a few laps later. Dillon’s No. 3 looks like fastest car on the track right now. He also gets the lead off pit road for the restart following the competition caution. Ryan Blaney, meanwhile, has to pit again because a front tire wasn’t tight.
7:40 p.m.: Pre-race ceremonies and engines fired
A small group of service members from Virginia’s Henrico County Fire Department performs the national anthem a cappella as the grid stands. Fans are not permitted at tonight’s race. Next weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee, roughly 30,000 fans are expected to attend. The speedway announced last week it sold out its full capacity of tickets the state allows.
In Virginia, engines are fired and cars roll off the grid for pace laps in preparation for a 7:48 p.m. green flag.
7:13 p.m.: Christopher Bell also sent to the rear
Cup rookie Christopher Bell will also start at the back of the field for Saturday’s race for an unapproved adjustments penalty issued to the No. 95 Toyota team. Bell was slated to start 26th. He finished 34th last weekend at Darlington.
6:47 p.m.: Rough start for Kyle Busch, car fails inspection
If last week was a punishing pre-race for Ryan Blaney’s team, this week, it appears it’s Kyle Busch’s turn. Busch’s No. 18 Toyota team was issued a penalty for two loose lug nuts after post-race inspection at Darlington and is operating with a replacement crew chief for Adam Stevens. Jacob Canter will serve as the substitute crew chief for the Joe Gibbs Racing team. Busch was hit with another blow Saturday. NASCAR announced before cars were on the grid that the No. 18 car twice failed pre-race technical inspection and will start at the rear of the field tonight. He was slated to start sixth.
Busch cited Richmond and Bristol as early playoff tracks where he could secure his first win this season, but the penalties aren’t helping. They didn’t benefit Blaney either. The No. 12 Ford driver dropped from seventh in points before Darlington to 16th place after a poor finish.
In addition to the No. 18 team, Clint Bowyer and his No. 14 Ford team also received the same loose lug nut penalty and will field a replacement crew chief. Greg Zipadelli will fill in for Johnny Klausmeier on the 14.
STARTING ORDER FOR NASCAR CUP RACE AT RICHMOND
|14||Martin Truex Jr.||19|
|23||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||47|
|31||John Hunter Nemechek||38|