Three drivers, including the winner of Saturday night’s race at Richmond Raceway, have secured spots in the Round of 12 in NASCAR’s 2021 Cup Series playoffs after the first two races in the Round of 16.
Martin Truex Jr. joined his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin in the second round by winning the Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders. Truex defeated runner-up Hamlin by 1.317 seconds. Hamlin won the first playoff race last weekend at Darlington and took the first two stages of Saturday’s race.
NASCAR AT RICHMOND: Updates, highlights from playoff race
Regular-season champion Kyle Larson also made it into the second round. The Hendrick Motorsports driver clinched after Stage 2 based on points.
Playoff drivers automatically advance to the next round by winning a playoff race. The rest of the field in a playoff round is set by points. Four drivers will be eliminated after the third and final race of the Round of 16, the Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol on Sept. 18.
Below is more about Truex’s win Saturday, plus the complete results of the race.
Who won the NASCAR race yesterday?
Martin Truex Jr. made it two Joe Gibbs Racing drivers in the Round of 12 with his win. Truex fought back from a pass-through penalty for jumping the start of the race ahead of Hamlin. who inherited the pole when Larson was sent to the rear for his car failing prerace inspection twice. Truex’s team argued that Hamlin spun his tires.
“That was frustrating, I’m not going to lie,” Truex said, per NASCAR.com. “But I knew we had a good enough car to overcome it. Just one of those things you have to put out of your mind and go race. A lot on the line tonight.”
Truex took the lead for good after green-flag pit stops in Stage 3. He led the final 51 laps. The winning opportunity opened when teammate Kyle Busch was penalized for speeding on pit road. Hamlin chased Truex to the checkered flag.
Hamlin told NBCSN he needed “just a couple more” laps to run down his teammate.
NASCAR Cup playoff standings
Three drivers are locked into the Round of 12 after Saturday: race winners Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. and points leader Kyle Larson. Truex and Larson secured their spots at Richmond after Hamlin clinched at Darlington.
“Go to Bristol and know that we’re locked in is nice,” Larson told NBCSN’s Marty Snider.
On the other end, the four drivers below the Round of 12 cut line are now Alex Bowman, Tyler Reddick, William Byron and Michael McDowell. Bowman is tied with Kurt Busch for the final playoff spot.
x-Clinched berth in Round of 12.
NASCAR results from Richmond
Joe Gibbs Racing playoff drivers swept the top three spots in this Round of 16 playoff race: Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin and Christopher Bell. The other Gibbs driver, Kyle Busch, took himself off the playoff bubble with a ninth-place run and a second-place finish in Stage 2.
Playoff drivers Chase Elliott and Joey Logano completed the top five. Elliott, the defending series champion, moved up three spots from 10th to seventh in the standings.
The night’s biggest loser was Kurt Busch, who finished last after crashing 40 laps into the race. The left rear tire on Busch’s car went flat, causing the car to slam into the outside wall. Busch fell from fourth in the standings to a tie with Alex Bowman for the final playoff spot.
“Something happened with that left rear, it let go,” Busch said, per NASCAR.com. “It let go of our points and it let go of our whole season right now. I don’t know what we’re going to have to do at Bristol other than win.”
The third and final race of the Round of 16 is the Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 18 (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, PRN. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
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