Kyle Busch wins his seventh race of 2018 season, advances in Cup Series playoffs
By Rick Minter/ Andrews McMeel Syndication
Brad Keselowski’s three-race win streak on the Monster Energy Cup Series came to an end on Saturday night at Richmond Raceway as the season’s Big Three drivers reclaimed their spots at the top of the pecking order.
Kyle Busch came back from a disappointing 39th-place qualifying effort to take the lead from Keselowski with 37 laps remaining and score the win. Kevin Harvick finished second, and Martin Truex Jr., who won the first two stages and appeared to have the fastest car, came back from a pit-road penalty to finish third.
It was the first time this season that the Big Three have all finished in the top three in a race.
The win was Busch’s seventh of the season, tying him with Harvick for the series lead. Truex has four wins this year and Keselowski three.
It also was Busch’s 50th Cup win, which tied him with Hall of Famers Junior Johnson and Ned Jarrett for 11th place on the Cup circuit’s all-time wins list. It also assures him of advancing to the second round of the Cup playoffs, which begins after the upcoming race on the Roval at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Playoff drivers swept the top 12 finishing positions at Richmond, with the other four all finishing inside the top 20.
Busch, Keselowski and Truex enter the upcoming weekend at Charlotte worry-free. Harvick, who wrecked early at Las Vegas in the playoff opener, has a good chance of being among the 12 drivers advancing to the second playoff round, as he’s 57 points ahead of 13th-place Clint Bowyer, thanks to the playoff points he accumulated throughout the season.
The bottom four drivers in the standings after the Roval race will be eliminated from the playoffs.
That foursome currently consists of Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin and Erik Jones.
Busch, in his winner’s interview, explained why so many drivers are worried about the Roval.
“I think everybody is just nervous because it’s very slick,” he said. “When you go to the Roval, though, you’re just on edge the entire time. It feels like ice. You’re never comfortable. …
“I think a lot of guys will have different mentalities going in this week and what they expect and what they are looking to achieve. We’ll go in there with a good mindset and a good attitude about it, and hopefully it’ll come out well for us.”