NASCAR at Richmond 2015 Results: Winner, Standings, Highlights and Reaction – Bleacher Report

Matt Kenseth took the checkered flag in the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Speedway in the last race of the regular season Saturday night. It was Kenseth’s third win in the past six races as he moved into a tie for first place in the Sprint Cup standings.

With its being the last opportunity to get into the Chase for the Sprint Cup, 20 drivers began the night vying for the last five spots of the final 16.

Let’s take a look at the race results:

Federated Auto Parts 400 Race Results
Finish Driver
1 Matt Kenseth
2 Kyle Busch
3 Joey Logano
4 Aric Almirola
5 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
6 Denny Hamlin
7 Jeff Gordon
8 Brad Keselowski
9 Jimmie Johnson
10 Clint Bowyer
11 Carl Edwards
12 Kyle Larson
13 Jamie McMurray
14 Kevin Harvick
15 Kurt Busch
16 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
17 David Ragan
18 Kasey Kahne
19 Danica Patrick
20 Ryan Newman
21 Casey Mears
22 Brian Scott
23 Trevor Bayne
24 A.J. Allmendinger
25 Justin Allgaier
26 Paul Menard
27 Austin Dillon
28 Sam Hornish Jr.
29 Tony Stewart
30 Landon Cassill
31 Greg Biffle
32 Martin Truex Jr.
33 David Gilliland
34 J.J. Yeley
35 Brett Moffitt
36 Matt DiBenedetto
37 Alex Bowman
38 Cole Whitt
39 Jed Burton
40 Jeffrey Earnhardt
41 Reed Sorenson
42 Michael McDowell
43 Michael Annett

NASCAR.com

Kenseth led 352 of the 400 laps Saturday night in a dominant showing, as NASCAR finally has its field set for the Chase. NASCAR provided a look at Kenseth crossing the finish line:

Here are the updated standings, with these 16 drivers officially qualifying for the playoffs.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Standings
Rank Driver Points
1 Jimmie Johnson 2,012
2 Kyle Busch 2,012
3 Matt Kenseth 2,012
4 Joey Logano 2,009
5 Kevin Harvick 2,006
6 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2,006
7 Kurt Busch 2,006
8 Carl Edwards 2,006
9 Brad Keselowski 2,003
10 Martin Truex Jr. 2,003
11 Denny Hamlin 2,003
12 Jamie McMurray 2,000
13 Jeff Gordon 2,000
14 Ryan Newman 2,000
15 Paul Menard 2,000
16 Clint Bowyer 2,000

All 16 drivers qualified for the Chase

Those five available spots at the beginning of the night immediately sank to four, as all Jamie McMurray had to do to clinch his place in the Chase was start the race, which he did successfully. It’s the first time in his career that he has made the Chase.

Yahoo Sports’ Jay Busbee jokingly stated that McMurray could take the rest of the night off:

Of course, he didn’t do that, finishing 13th on the evening.

Navigating such a short track, a loaded field of 43 drivers was sure to create plenty of congestion, as NASCAR showed:

Joe Gibbs Racing seemed to enjoy the friendly confines at Richmond. Kenseth saw teammates Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards finish second, sixth and 11th, respectively. NASCAR’s Matthew Dillner was impressed by JGR’s outing:

Joey Logano, starting the night ranked second in the points standings, swept the poles at Richmond this season and started in first Saturday night. He led the first 14 laps of the race before being overtaken by Kenseth, who used a higher line to take advantage of his quicker car. 

Logano didn’t stray from the top of the pack, finishing his night in third behind Kenseth and Busch.

After winning the race off pit road at the competition caution nearing the 40th lap, Kenseth was able to hold off Logano on the restart and build up a two-second lead on the rest of the field. It was smooth sailing for Kenseth, as NASCAR Stats discovered that it was already a record-setting night for him, and the race wasn’t even halfway over:

His lead kept building, moving up to four seconds ahead of a second-place Denny Hamlin, who was racing injured Saturday night. The driver of the FedEx No. 11 car decided to delay surgery on a torn ACL in order to compete in the Chase. 

There’s no denying that he’s a gamer, as he even led 14 laps starting on Lap 126. Here’s a look at Hamlin taking the lead, per NASCAR:

He relinquished the lead back to Kenseth, who looked like he would not be denied. Hamlin wound up finishing sixth.

A caution on Lap 212 brought the field back together, and Kenseth, who had been solid on the restarts, was passed by Kyle Busch, who stormed into the lead. But Busch’s restart looked to be illegal, as he changed lanes before the start line. NASCAR, however, did not penalize him. 

While NASCAR’s replay does not show the restart at the line, watch how wide Busch went compared to the rest of the field:

Busch seemed to ease off nine laps into his lead, allowing Kenseth to retake the top spot on Lap 228, though. Kenseth looked unstoppable, lapping almost half the field. He hit his 300th leading lap at the Lap 348 mark. 

A caution with 25 laps to go provided one final test on the restart as those desperate to make the Chase had one more chance to make a move. Aric Almirola skipped fuel on the final pit stop during the caution to give him a decent position for a top finish. 

He came out of the pit in third, dropping to fourth on the restart. He wound up finishing there and missing the Chase. Kenseth kept the lead with a huge acceleration on the restart, though it might have been a tad early. NASCAR looked at the restart and said no penalty would be enforced. 

The last four to make it to the Chase were Jeff Gordon (7th), Ryan Newman (20th), Paul Menard (26th) and Clint Bowyer (10th). With the field set looking toward some meaningful races, the next 10 weeks will be a tough stretch for this year’s best racers.

A dominant win for Kenseth will give him plenty of confidence moving forward, as he made quite a statement during his win at Richmond.

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