Kyle Busch holds off Larson, winning Stage 1 at Richmond


A late caution offered Kyle Busch the opportunity to pick up his 11th stage win of 2017.

Busch led 11 laps and held off Kyle Larson by .220-seconds for the first segment win at Richmond Raceway in Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400. 

Clint Bowyer, Matt Kenseth, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, Erik Jones, Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott and Kurt Busch rounded out the top 10. Kenseth’s 89 laps led were the most in the stage. 

The drivers started the Federated Auto Parts 400 with a four-wide salute to the fans. After several parade laps Kenseth led the field to green. 

Two laps in, Larson passed Kurt Busch for third and Truex tried to follow on Lap 3. Busch put on the block but was attacked on the outside by his brother Kyle, who moved up to fifth on Lap 5. By Lap 7, Truex regained fifth-place. 

After the first 10 laps, Kenseth held a three-car lead over Hamlin with Larson, Kurt Busch, Truex, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott, McMurray and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., rounding out the top 10. McMurray passed Elliott for ninth on Lap 15. Stenhouse remained 10th followed by Keselowski, Bowyer, Logano, Blaney and Kahne.

Kenseth extended his lead to one-second over Hamlin as the No. 20 Toyota started lapping the field. Truex, Larson, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Harvick McMurray, Elliott and Keselowski rounded out the top 10. 

On Lap 25, Truex caught Hamlin and made the pass for second as Kenseth moved out to a second and a half over the No. 78 Toyota. Larson remained fourth with Kurt and Kyle Busch, Harvick, McMurray, Elliott and Keselowski holding on to the top 10. 

Truex cut Kenseth’s advantage to 1.4-seconds after 30 laps. Keselowski passed McMurray for ninth. Stenhouse ran 11th followed by Bowyer, Blaney, Logano and Jones. Earnhardt moved up to the top 15 for the first time on Lap 33. 

Landon Cassill ignited the first caution after blowing a right front tire and hitting the wall in Turn 1 on Lap 34. It was a close call for Kenseth who dove low entering the turn to avoid Cassill — and the debris. 

Kenseth led the cars down pit road on Lap 36 with Truex, Hamlin, Larson, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Harvick, Elliott, Keselowski and McMurray in tow. Kenseth was the first driver off of pit road followed by Kurt Busch, Truex, Harvick, Kyle Busch, Hamlin, Larson, Keselowski, Elliott and McMurray. Blaney, Stenhouse, Bowyer, Logano, Johnson, Kahne, Jones, Earnhardt, Patrick and Newman completed the top 20.

With 60 laps remaining in the first segment, Kenseth shot out to the point while Truex took Kurt Busch and Hamlin three-wide. Truex took second with Kyle Busch third, Larson fourth and Kurt Busch dropped to fifth. Elliott moved up to sixth followed by Blaney, Bowyer, Harvick and Kahne. 

Jones moved around Kahne for 10th on Lap 45. Keselowski settled into 12th followed by Hamlin, Logano and Stenhouse. Two laps later, Keselowski passed Kahne for 11th. 

Halfway through the segment, Kenseth had a one-second lead over Truex. Keselowski raced back into the top 10 knocking Jones to 11th. Elliott passed Kurt Busch for fifth on Lap 53. By Lap 55, Keselowski passed Blaney for ninth and Hamlin dropped to 14th behind Logano. 

Truex cut Kenseth’s lead to .784-seconds with 40 laps remaining in the stage. Kyle Busch ran third followed by Larson and Elliott. Kurt Busch hung onto sixth with Bowyer, Harvick, Keselowski and Jones rounding out the top 10. 

Bowyer passed his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kurt Busch for sixth on Lap 65. Keselowski took eighth-place from Harvick and went to work on Kurt Busch. Keselowski completed the pass on the outside of the No. 41 entering Turn 1 for seventh. Harvick knocked Busch to ninth on the next lap.

“Loose off,” Busch said. 

Kenseth’s lead was down to .708-seconds with 25 laps to go. Twenty-nine cars remained on the lead lap. Jones passed Kurt Busch for ninth.

Truex closed in on Kenseth with 15 laps left in the stage. Kyle Busch remained third followed by Larson, Elliott, Bowyer, Keselowski, Harvick, Jones and Kurt Busch.

Kenseth locked up the brakes and smoke bellowed from the back of the No. 20 Toyota entering Turn 3 on Lap 86. NASCAR called the second caution of the race. Kenseth led the field down pit road on Lap 88 with Keselowski, Stenhouse and Paul Menard remaining on the track. Kenseth was the first car off of pit road followed by Kyle Busch, Truex, Larson, Elliott, Bowyer, Harvick and Jones. 

“I was messing with the brakes and locked up the fronts,” Kenseth told his team between stages.

When the race went green on Lap 88, Busch shot to the lead followed by Larson, Bowyer, Kenseth, Jones, Truex, Harvick, Logano and Kurt Busch.

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