It was a war filled with plenty of battles Sunday. Joey Logano survived the fight battling his way from a 37th starting spot to win his 18th career race in his 300th career start. Here’s how it all went down in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway Sunday.
Matt Kenseth led the field to the green on the inside from his first pole of 2017 and his second at Richmond. Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr., and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. followed. Fifth place starter Joey Logano dropped to the back of the field after the team was forced to change a transmission.
Kenseth had a sole lead by turn 1, Truex and Blaney side by side behind. By the end of lap 1, Blaney had Second, Truex third; Kyle Busch was fourth, Stenhouse held onto fifth.
By lap 5, Kenseth had a lead of just over a second.
Erik Jones hit the Turn 3 wall hard on lap 6 after a left front tire went down and caution one was put out. Jones had made contact with Kasey Kahne on the start. The leaders stayed out but several deeper in the field pitted.
Green came out on lap 13 after the restart was waved off twice; Kenseth led, followed by Blaney, Truex and Busch. Kenseth retook a clear lead, Blaney and Truex dueled for second; Busch hovered close behind.
On lap 17 Busch shot into the middle of Truex and Blaney to make it three wide; Truex took second, Kyle Busch grabbed third, Blaney settled into fourth. The lead for Kenseth was 1.3 seconds.
Harvick took fourth on lap 21. Logano was 24th after starting in the back of the field. Blaney had fallen to seventh by lap 30.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. who restarted 26th after pitting under the first caution entered the top 10 on lap 41.
By lap the top five were: Kenseth, Truex, Kyle Busch, Harvick and Brad Keselowski; he took fourth on lap 48.
Kenseth’s lead was 2.03 seconds by lap 51. There were 32 cars on the lead lap.
Keselowski was looking for third and had it on lap 53.
Caution two came out on lap 65 when Stenhouse and Denny Hamlin were fighting for seventh and made contact; Stenhouse was sent into the outside wall exiting turn 4 and sustained heavy damage but rolled to the pits. The leaders all pitted; Kenseth was out first followed by Truex, Keselowski, Kyle Busch and Harvick.
Kyle Busch, Earnhardt and Chris Buescher were all penalized for speeding. Ryan Newman moved up into fifth when Busch and Earnhardt fell to the rear of the field. Logano was ninth.
Green came back out on lap 73. Kenseth again took a solo lad. Truex had second; Harvick, Kyle Larson and Keselowski dueled behind.
Larson soon had third was looking for second.
Kenseth soon had a lead of 1.5 seconds.
Harvick and Keselowski were fighting for fourth on lap 89, 11 laps to go in Stage 1. Hamlin soon joined the fight from sixth and grabbed fifth from Keselowski on lap 93.
At the end of Stage 1; the lead for Kenseth was just over 3 seconds. Larson and Truex were side by side for second coming to the line with Larson barely edging out Truex.
Top 10 Stage 1: Kenseth, Larson, Truex, Harvick, Hamlin, Keselowski, Newman, Jamie McMurray, Clint Bowyer, and Logano.
The leaders all pitted. Kenseth was out first, Larson was second followed by Truex, Harvick and Keselowski.
Green came out on lap 110. There were 28 cars on the lead lap. Kenseth took the lead with Larson falling into second, Harvick third; Truex and Keselowski took up spots behind. Keselowski took fourth on lap 114. He was looking for third from Harvick on lap 121. The lead was just over 1 second.
Harvick took second on lap 134; the lead was just over 2 seconds. Keselowski followed and Larson was sent to fourth.
Harvick was closing the gap by lap 143. Keselowski had stayed closes and took second on lap 150. The lead was just over a second and closing. Kenseth was reporting a tight condition.
The lead was a half a second by lap 158. He was on the bumper of Kenseth at lap 161 as Kenseth was in lapped traffic. Keselowski took the lead on lap 163.
Soon the lead for Keselowski was approaching two seconds.
Hamlin had moved to fourth by lap 179; Larson was fifth.
Stage 2 Top 10: Keselowski, Kenseth, Harvick, Hamlin, Larson, Newman, McMurray, Ty Dillon and Logano.
The leaders all pitted. Hamlin was out first, followed by Harvick, Keselowski, Kenseth and Larson. Jimmie Johnson was penalized for an uncontrolled tire.
Green came out on lap 212. Hamlin jumped to the lead as Harvick grabbed second. Kenseth fell into third, Keselowski fourth, Bowyer fifth. Harvick stayed right on the bumper of Hamlin.
Keselowski took third on lap 224. Harvick took the lead on lap 239; Keselowski followed as Hamlin settled into third. There were 24 cars on the lead lap.
Caution five came out for debris on lap 250.
The leaders all pitted. Hamlin won the race off pit road followed by Keselowski, Harvick, Kenseth and McMurray.
Green came out on lap 256. Hamlin jumped to the lead, Harvick fell in behind for second, McMurray took third, Keselowski fourth, Larson fifth. Kyle Busch had rallied back from his speeding penalty and was ninth.
Harvick and Keselowski stayed close and by lap 280 it was a three-way battle for the lead.
Keselowski took the lead on lap 286 as Harvick dropped into third. Hamlin hovered close behind.
Keselowski was soon able to stretch out his lead as Harvick and Hamlin were side by side behind. Kenseth took fourth on lap 294. Harvick grabbed second a lap later.
With 90 laps to go the lead for Keselowski was 1.3 seconds.
Logano pitted under green on lap 316; Truex followed as did Kyle Busch. Others deeper in the field followed. Harvick and Hamlin pitted on lap 319. Kenseth and Keselowski pitted a lap later. Bowyer was among three drivers who had commitment line violations; the others, Aric Almirola and Danica Patrick.
Keselowski was fourth, Harvick was fifth, Hamlin sixth as Newman, Johnson and Earnhardt stayed out hoping for a caution. Soon there was a three-way battle among fourth, fifth and sixth, with Keselowski coming out ahead over Harvick and Hamlin. The top three needed to pit, so the fight was for the eventual lead.
Earnhardt took second on lap 335 as Johnson pitted. Keselowski was in third five seconds back and closing.
Keselowski took second on lap 341.
Caution six came out when Earnhardt hit the wall exiting turn 2 after contact with Johnson on lap 343. The leaders all pitted. Keselowski was first out, Newman who benefitted from the caution was out second, followed by Hamlin, Harvick and Kenseth. Both Johnson and Earnhardt were able to continue. There were 25 cars on the lead lap. Both were 26th and 27th one lap down.
The restart came on lap 348.
Keselowski took the lead as Kyle Busch in sixth charged to the outside to take fourth as Newman and Hamlin fought for second and third. Logano was fifth. Up front Keselowski was stretching out his lead. Newman had second a few laps later as Busch and Hamlin dueled. Harvick had fallen to seventh an d was having trouble. Busch had third at lap 355.
Earnhardt spun on lap 356 and caution seven waved. He had a tire rub prior to the spin. Ty Dillon spun entering in turn 3 under the caution forcing Bowyer to stop.
The leaders were all able to pit. Keselowski was out first, followed by Hamlin, Newman Kyle Busch and Logano.
Green came out on lap 361. Hamlin took the lead on the outside, however NASCAR said the restart was under review. By the end of the lap, Keselowski was back in the lead as NASCAR ruled the restart was good. Kyle Busch took second, Hamlin third. Kenseth lost a tire on lap 368 after contact with Chase Elliott and slowed.
NASCAR put out caution number eight for debris. Kenseth was able to make it to pit road.
Keselowski and Logano stayed out as those behind him pitted. They were one two. Kyle Busch was the first out of the pits. Truex was penalized for a commitment line violation. Busch was third, Hamlin fourth, Larson fifth.
Green came out on lap 379.
It was two wide for the lead, three wide behind. Logano had a slight lead, but it was three wide again with Logano, Keselowski and Busch. Logano was able to emerge with the lead as Busch slid into second. Keselowski fell into third. Hamlin laid the bumper to Keselowski with 25 to go and was looking for third. McMurray took fifth just as behind them, a four-wide battle ended with Ryan Blaney in the Turn 3 wall; caution 9 came out.
The leaders all pitted. Logano was out first followed by Kyle Busch, Keselowski, Hamlin and McMurray. Busch was penalized for a commitment line violation however, and Harvick moved up.
Six drivers did not pit; Larson, Stenhouse, Chris Buescher, Truex, David Ragan and Cole Whitt.
The restart came with 19 to go. Larson took the lead as Logano charged on the inside and had third by the end of the lap. Stenhouse was third, Truex fourth, Hamlin fifth.
Logano put the bumper to Larson and retook the lead with 16 laps to go. He was soon checking out.
Hamlin took second three laps later; Keselowski followed. Stenhouse took fourth with 12 to go. Keselowski took second on lap 389; Harvick took fifth behind.
Harvick was looking for fourth from Stenhouse with 4 laps to go. The lead for Logano was 1.1 seconds.
With three to go, Keselowski was closing the gap. It wasn’t enough as Logano was able to win by .770 of a second.
Hamlin was third, Stenhouse Jr., fourth, Harvick fifth. McMurray finished sixth, Newman finished seventh. Kurt Busch, Aric Almirola and Martin Truex Jr. rounded out the top 10.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Talladega Superspeedway for next Sunday’s Geico 500.