30 Second Read: Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders

                    (Martin Truex Jr celebrates with a burnout at Richmond International Raceway)    https://twitter.com/WaiteToyota/status/1437064326129627146?s=20

Martin Truex Jr made a playoff statement tonight showcasing his team has not gone away and is in contention to not only be in the playoffs but for the championship. This win marks his fourth of the year and third career win at the D shaped short track.

NASCAR added an extra pace lap in salute to first responders in co-ordinance with it being the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Denny Hamlin received the pole position for the start of the race as Kyle Larson who was supposed to start on the front row in second place had failed pre race inspection and is required to start the race at the back of the 40 car field. Green flag drops for the start of stage one but it's Truex Jr jumping the start beating teammate Hamlin to the start finish line. Truex is immediately black flagged and required to make a pass through pit road to serve his penalty for jumping the start of the race. Luckily for him, after serving the penalty he was able to stay on the lead lap.

With the competition caution coming at lap 30, the main concern for teams early on as they spread out throughout the track and just being able to give feedback and take care of their equipment in this early run.

Even with cars now beginning to be lapped, Hamlin dominates the first 30 laps as the caution comes out, Hamlin's two second lead is evaporated. Kurt Busch wins the race off pit road.

Kyle Busch is forced to drop to the back of the pack for the restart as his team takes a penalty for equipment interference. Ku Busch leads Hamlin to the restart on lap 37. Top four under a blanket with Hamlin retaking the lead as teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski challenge for the lead.

Caution out lap 41, Ku Busch has a tire go down entering turn 1 ending his night early. No takers on this round of pit stops as Hamlin and Logano will lead the field to the green flag. with a big push from Ryan Blaney, Hamlin gets a giant launch on the restart as Blaney jumps into second position.

Inside 20 laps to go, Truex Jr had come back from his early penalty to fight inside the top 10 as he shows a lot of speed near the end of the first stage. 5 laps to go Kyle Larson makes his way back from having to start at the rear to now running in the top five after passing Keselowski, but it's going to be Denny Hamlin going to win stage one with Chase Elliott coming in second after just passing past Logano.

Hamlin wins the race off of pit road as he lines up with Elliott for the start of stage two on lap 89. Elliott challenges for the lead and takes it away from Hamlin with Logano hot on their tail.

Ross Chastain although not in the playoffs makes a big move in the front stretch passing both Truex and Larson to jump into the top five in fourth place on lap 93.

As Elliott continues to lead at lap 52 in stage two, green flag pit stops start to take place beginning with Tyler Reddick and Denny Hamlin. Elliott and Chastain soon follow the next lap.

Michael McDowell gets caught speeding on pit road setting him back one lap down, a very costly mistake for the playoff driver.

Hamlin resumes the lead after the cycle of green flag pit stops.

With 74 laps to go in the second stage, after a lengthy battle between the 9 and the 11 cars, Chase Elliott takes back the lead as Hamlin encounters lapped traffic. 56 laps to go in the stage Hamlin retakes the lead from Elliott as the struggle to get around slower cars continues this time against Chase Briscoe who is fighting to stay on the lead lap.

Just as Hamlin retakes the lead, another round of green flag pit stops emerges with Martin Truex, Kevin Harvick and now Denny Hamlin taking service.

Elliott encounters a big problem on pit road after making slight contact with Chastain as he exits his pit, thinking he's not in his pit box correctly, goes to back up and runs over the jack while the stop begins destroying the jack and the needing to replace it. The pit stop ended up being 36 seconds but could have been longer but due to the crews awareness and quick thinking Elliott only lost one lap with 50 to go in stage two. Coming to 47 laps to go, Elliott fights to get his lap back and does so successfully.

As laps whine down in the stage, 18 laps to go Denny Hamlin repasses Elliott as they encounter more lapped traffic.

Inside 10 laps to go in stage two, Hamlin still leads but now puts Austin Dillon who's running in the 14th position a lap down meaning Chase Elliott cannot get the free pass if a caution comes out.

Now threatening William Byron, with 5 laps to go Byron fights to stay on the lead lap.

3 laps to go in stage two, Elliott makes it three wide inside Byron and Josh Bilicki, he dives in hard pushing Byron up in turn 1 to pass him to be in the free pass position.

Denny Hamlin is your winner for stage two.

After pit stops take place Hamlin and Truex Jr lead the field to start the final stage.

It continues to be Joe Gibbs Racing Dominating the race as the top 4 are all JGR cars.

Bubba Wallace brings out the caution on lap 250 as a tire goes down and he ends up in the wall. With not many cars still on the lead lap, Brad Keselowski is the only one of the leaders who pit but does not take tires.

Hamlin and Truex lead the field once again on the restart.

Coming down to 100 laps to go, Michael McDowell gets caught speeding on pit road forcing him to make a pass through on pit road putting him multiple laps down and in a must win situation at Bristol next weekend to advance to next round of the playoffs.

With pit stops cycling through, Ross Chastain takes over the lead, but with 95 laps to go Kyle Busch quickly passes Chastain and heads off into a big lead.

Under 60 laps remaining another round of green flag pit stops which potentially could be the last for the night start as Joey Logano and Tyler Reddick come in for the first of the leaders. Busch comes for his stop but is caught speeding on pit road ending his chances of winning.

With Truex Jr now resuming the lead with 47 laps to go after Kyle Busch serves his penalty, he extends the lead to more than eight seconds over teammate Denny Hamlin.

Inside 30 laps to go in the race and Hamlin has cut the lead from Truex down to five and a half seconds.

Truex running into heavier lapped traffic with 15 to go has allowed Hamlin to close into the lead now under four and a half seconds back.

In the closing laps under 10 to go, Chastain makes contact with Kyle Larson moving him out of the way passing him for sixth but Larson quickly passes him back.

Denny Hamlin will cut Truex's lead to under two seconds but it's too little too late as Martin Truex Jr wins the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway and locks himself into the Round of 12. This marks his fourth win of the year and also two consecutive wins for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Playoffs.

Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders top 5: 1. Martin Truex Jr
2. Denny Hamlin
3. Christopher Bell
4. Chase Elliott
5. Joey Logano

Honorable Mentions 7. Ross Chastain
10. Ryan Blaney
14. Aric Almirola
15. Tyler Reddick

Written By: Matt Marr