(MRN) Martin Truex Jr. received a penalty on the opening lap of the race for crossing the start/finish line in front of pole-sitter Denny Hamlin at the green flag. But 400 laps later Truex led the field across the line again – this time as the race winner of Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders at Richmond (Va.) Raceway.
The convincing 1.317-second margin of victory over his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Hamlin and Christopher Bell marked Truex’s third win in the last five races at Richmond, his fourth win of the 2021 season and, most importantly, gave him that coveted automatic bid into the next round of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.
Truex joins Hamlin, who won last week’s playoff opener at Darlington, South Carolina, and Regular Season Champion Kyle Larson, who finished sixth on Saturday, as the only three drivers to have officially secured positions in the Round of 12 that begins in two weeks at Las Vegas.
Reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott finished fourth in a Hendrick Chevrolet and Team Penske’s Joey Logano was fifth in a Ford. Larson finished sixth, followed by the only non-playoff driver among the top 10, Ross Chastain.
Stewart-Haas Racing’s driver Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, and Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney rounded out the top 10.
Playoff drivers Alex Bowman, Brad Keselowski, Aric Almirola, and Tyler Reddick finished 12th-15th. William Byron (19th), Michael McDowell (28th), and Kurt Busch (37th) rounded out the playoff finishers.
Reddick (-5), Byron (-18), Daytona 500 winner McDowell (-38) are currently outside the top 12, with four of the 16 cars set to be eliminated from the playoffs after Bristol’s Bass Pro Shops Night Race.
For more on Saturday night’s action, follow this link.