Denny Hamlin has matched Kyle Larson for first place in the NASCAR Cup Series throughout the season, although he has no race wins to his name.
He finally landed that elusive first place at the perfect time, claiming the checkered flag at Darlington Raceway in the first playoff race to immediately climb to the top of the playoff standings and ensure he would advance to the next round.
But after Darlington, the stakes rose for Alex Bowman, Kyle Busch, William Byron and Michael McDowell. After the Cook Out Southern 500, those four went below the cut line. Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders race at Richmond Raceway could go a long way in determining who is really in charge of next week’s round of 16 final race in Bristol.
Sporting News will follow live updates and share highlights from all races in the NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Richmond Raceway.
Live Updates From NASCAR In Richmond, Highlights From Federated Auto Parts 400
9:07 p.m .: Halfway through Stage 2, the top five are Hamlin, Elliott, Busch, Logano and Chastain, the latter being the only non-qualifying driver in the top 14.
9:04 p.m .: In the 152 laps so far, Hamlin has led for 100.
8:58 p.m .: Hamlin is the leader after most of the field has ended up in the pit lane. Elliott, Chastain, Logano and Busch round out the top five.
8:57 p.m .: Michael McDowell was penalized for speeding on the pit lane.
8:56 p.m .: Larson stops for the pit route on the 136.
8:55 p.m .: Hamlin and Tyler Reddick head to pit lane on lap 132 – 52 of 155 in stage 2. He is the first playoff driver to hit pit lane, and now a number more are starting. to follow his lead, including Elliott, who had been in the lead.
8:51 p.m .: Busch makes contact with Logano trying to get on, but Logano still holds on.
8:49 p.m .: Busch has now taken a lead over Truex and is starting to win over Logano for a place in the top five on lap 118.
8:47 p.m .: Larson has now fallen to eighth place with Truex and Kyle Busch both overtaking him.
8:41 p.m .: Keselowski passes Logano to slip to third place.
8:40 p.m .: Keselowski and Ross Chastain both passed Larson to bring the regular season winner back to sixth place.
8:39 p.m .: Elliott finally came out in front of Hamlin for the lead on lap 91.
8:38 p.m .: Hamlin gets a solid inside pitch to stay first. Elliott pushes from the outside, but he can’t get past him on the restart.
8:37 p.m .: Daniel Suarez is fined for interference with equipment the second time a driver has been hit with one tonight.
8:34 p.m .: Hamlin, Elliott, Logano, Larson, Keselowski are the first five out of the pits.
8:30 p.m .: Hamlin won the first stage with great ease, placing nearly five seconds ahead of Elliott. Logano, Larson and Blaney round out the top five.
8:28 p.m .: Larson with another pass, this time passing Blaney to reach fourth place.
8:27 p.m .: Larson easily passed Brad Keselowski on the left to reach fifth place.
8:26 p.m .: Blaney, Logano and Elliott are all fighting for second place. Logano fights from the inside while Elliott rolled outside. For now, it’s Logano who has moved up to second behind Hamlin with nine laps to go in the first stage.
8:23 p.m .: After an early penalty, Truex is also making his way. Truex is 11th, while Larson continues to move up to eighth place on lap 64.
8:21 p.m .: Kurt Busch on the NBC Sports show says he’s fine, but noted that he now feels like he needs a win at Bristol to continue his season.
8:19 p.m .: Kyle Larson quietly rose through the ranks. He moved up to 10th place on lap 56 after starting the race from behind.
8:16 p.m .: There’s the restart and Hamlin immediately regains the lead on lap 48.
8:13 p.m .: No other driver was found in the accident. However, Bubba Wallace crushed the tire and got it stuck under his car.
8:11 p.m .: Busch leaves the track in an ambulance for exams so his day is over.
8:10 p.m .: A warning flag goes out because Kurt Busch has a flat left rear tire. Huge drop into the wall.
8:08 p.m .: The green flag is back. Hamlin and Kurt Busch start to fight for the top spot, but Hamlin takes the lead from the outside. Busch still tries to get past him inside, but Hamlin doesn’t give him space.
8:08 p.m .: Kyle Busch assessed a penalty for interference with the equipment.
8:05 p.m .: Kurt Busch is first out of the pits, Hamlin moves up to second with Logano and Harvick in third and fourth.
8:03 p.m .: The caution of the competition is triggered in the 31st round.
20:00: Kyle Busch moved up to 11th after running three with William Byron and Alex Bowman. Both Hendrick riders are fighting for their playoff lives as neither is above the cup line, as is the case with Busch.
19:56: Hamlin led the first 15 laps of the race. Kurt Busch and Joey Logano ride right behind him.
7:52 p.m .: Martin Truex Jr. has to drive on the pit lane after beating leader Denny Hamlin at the start line.
7:51 p.m .: There is the green flag and the race is officially on.
19:46: Richmond Raceway fans wave American flags to honor first responders and the lives lost on September 11.
7:40 p.m .: The heroes of the hometown of Virginia gave command to the drivers.
7:33 p.m .: The Henrico Fire Choir now sings the national anthem before the start of tonight’s race.
7:17 p.m .: Ahead of the race, NBC Sports took a look at the first NASCAR race after 9/11.
7:10 p.m .: Dale Earnhardt Jr. is working overtime today. After finishing 14th at Go Bowling 250, Earnhardt will be heading to the pit for tonight’s appeal.
7 p.m .: Kyle Larson will start at the back of tonight’s race after his car fails the pre-race inspection.
NASCAR start time today
- Time: 7:30 p.m. ET (TV time)
- TV channel: NBCSN (TSN5 in Canada)
- Direct: NBCSports.com | NBC Sports Application | fuboTV (7 day free trial)
The green flag for Saturday’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff race on the 0.75-mile D-shaped oval at Richmond Raceway is expected to fall at 7:45 p.m. ET.
The weather shouldn’t be a concern. The The National Weather Service forecast for Richmond, Virginia., calls for clear skies, light winds, and a temperature dropping into the low 60s on Saturday night, after a sunny afternoon with high temperatures in the low 80s.
NASCAR Cup Playoff Standings
Denny Hamlin became the first driver this year to win a second round when he won at Darlington. Finalist driver Kyle Larson increased his playoff points lead, and four playoff drivers suffered heavy hitting the standings after falling on the âToo Tough to Tameâ track.
|3||Martin Truex Jr.||2062|
x-Clinched berth in round of 12.
NASCAR starting eleven in Richmond
Here is the full NASCAR starting lineup for Saturday’s playoff race at Richmond Raceway, the Federated Auto Parts 400.
|1||P-Kyle Larson||5||Hendrick Motorsports|
|2||P-Denny Hamlin||11||Joe gibbs racing|
|3||P-Martin Truex Jr.||19||Joe gibbs racing|
|4||P-Kurt Busch||1||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|5||P-Kevin Harvick||4||Stewart-Haas Race|
|6||Joey logano||22||Penske team|
|7||P-Brad Keselowski||2||Penske team|
|8||P-Ryan Blaney||12||Penske team|
|9||P-Aric Almirola||ten||Stewart-Haas Race|
|ten||P-Christophe Bell||20||Joe gibbs racing|
|11||P-Tyler Reddick||8||Richard Childress Racing|
|12||P-Alex Bowman||48||Hendrick Motorsports|
|13||P-Chase Elliott||9||Hendrick Motorsports|
|14||P-William Byron||24||Hendrick Motorsports|
|15||P-Kyle Busch||18||Joe gibbs racing|
|16||P-Michael McDowell||34||Motorsports in the first row|
|17||Ross chastain||42||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|18||Chris Buescher||17||Roush Fenway Racing|
|19||Austin dillon||3||Richard Childress Racing|
|20||Ryan precece||37||JTG Girls Race|
|21||Cole custer||41||Stewart-Haas Race|
|22||Daniel Suarez||99||TrackHouse Racing|
|23||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||47||JTG Girls Race|
|24||Ryan newman||6||Roush Fenway Racing|
|25||Corey LaJoie||7||Spire Motorsports|
|26||Chase Briscoe||14||Stewart-Haas Race|
|27||Bubba wallace||23||23XI Race|
|28||Matt DiBenedetto||21||Wood brothers racing|
|29||Justin haley||77||Spire Motorsports|
|30||Anthony Alfredo||38||Motorsports in the first row|
|31||Erik Jones||43||Richard Petty Motorsports|
|32||BJ McLeod||78||Experience fast motorsports|
|33||Josh bilicki||52||Rick ware racing|
|34||Joey Gase||15||Rick ware racing|
|35||Quin Houff||00||StarCom Race|
|36||Garrett smithley||51||Small items shopping|
|37||JJ Yeley||53||Rick ware racing|