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Busch, Edwards appear to have put Richmond issue in past
VOTE: Edwards' last lap move at Richmond -- clean or dirty? Reigning Sprint Cup Series champion Kyle Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Carl Edwards appear to have buried the hatchet after the finish of the Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway two weekends ago. To refesh your memory, Edwards won his second straight race for JGR on April 24, doing so with a last-lap bump-and-run on Busch, who was seeking his third victory in four Cup events. As of this past weekend at Talladega Superspeedway , the pair still had yet to talk to try to resolve any tension. But on Wednesday morning, Busch tweeted a photo of the pair holding a signed award with M&Ms -- one of Busch's sponsors -- on it and the language, "Congratulations on your win," and the Toyota Owners 400 race logo. pic.twitter.com/rGgozmHOmp — Kyle Busch (@KyleBusch) May 4, 2016
Edwards: 'Kyle and I haven't talked' since Richmond
RELATED: No team orders for Edwards, Busch " Vote: Clean or dirty move? TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Following last weekend's thrilling finish to the Sprint Cup series race at Richmond International Raceway in which Carl Edwards bumped teammate Kyle Busch from the lead to pick up his second straight victory, the lingering question in the days leading up to this weekend's events at Talladega Superspeedway was if the Joe Gibbs Racing duo would bury the hatchet. According to Edwards, the two drivers have yet to speak to each other. "No, Kyle and I have not had a chance to talk yet," Edwards said Friday at Talladega Superspeedway . "I was testing at ( Indianapolis Motor Speedway ) for two days. I missed the meetings. This weekend will require us to all get together as a group and work well together. I'm sure we'll have a chance to talk." Busch confirmed Sunday at Talladega during the pre-race telecast that he and Edwards still have yet to clear the air, replying to FOX Sports analyst Kenny Wallace 's question about the situation with a simple, "No." Much was made of the move that saw Edwards nudge his teammate Busch, the reigning series champion, up the track in Turns 3 and 4 on the final lap to beat him by .675 seconds on the Virginia short track. RELATED: Cain: Edwards' move is what racing is all about Was it clean? Was it dirty? Should it matter that they're teammates? Should it matter that they're both already virtually locked into the Chase for the Sprint Cup by virtue of their early-season wins? (A NASCAR.com poll revealed that 76 percent of our readers deemed it a clean, racing move, for what it's worth.) But it all boils down to how the pair -- who've been racing against each other full-time for over a decade, but have been teammates for just over a year -- will handle things moving forward, both on and off the track. Busch was understandably terse in his post-race press conference at Richmond on Sunday, deflecting questions about the incident and instead noting how good of a car his team gave him. The two-time 2016 race winner has yet to offer any comment since. RELATED: Recap all of Edwards' wins " All of Busch's wins
Edwards hopes to discuss Richmond with Busch
Carl Edwards states he has not talked to teammate Kyle Busch about Edwards' bump-and-run to win in the final lap at Richmond International Raceway.
Throwback Thursday: Richmond's return
Take a look back at Tim Richmond's triumphant return to NASCAR after his first absence from the sport.
Humpe back on track at Richmond
Defending NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series champion Kenny Humpe ( The TEAM ) found the winner's circle for the first time in 2016, taking the checkered flag at Richmond International Raceway after leading a race-high 88 of 200 laps. Humpe comfortably held-off Allen Boes ( Deadzone ) by 2.8 seconds, while Boes narrowly beat Ray Alfalla ( Slip Angle Motorsports ) for second. Corey Vincent followed the pair in fourth, 4.4 seconds behind the winner, with Matt Bussa rounding-out the top five. Humpe started from the outside of the front row and took the lead from pole sitter Nick Ottinger on Lap 26, shortly after the second caution flag of the race. He continued to lead until Lap 83 when the field headed to pit road for service under caution. Alfalla and Cody Byus had better pit stops than Humpe, relegating him to third on the restart. After the race went back to green Humpe struggled to close on Alfalla and Byus and, instead, settled into third spot. However, as the run wore on Humpe began gaining on Byus and finally passed him on Lap 138. Alfalla had begun to slow by this point and Humpe made his move for the lead on Lap 145 and nearly had a race-ending moment. As the two raced side-by-side through Turn Three, Humpe suddenly decided to pit for tires but overshot pit entry and narrowly avoided the safety barrels protecting the end of pit wall. Although the mistake cost him time, Humpe kept his car in one piece and safely made it to pit road next time around while Alfalla waited another lap before making his final stop. That extra lap proved costly to Alfalla, as he re-entered the track behind Humpe in spite of the defending champion's botched pit entry a couple laps prior. Although Bussa and Boes were ahead of Humpe and Alfalla, Humpe had no trouble dispatching them. The pass on Bussa only put Humpe in eighth, but the seven cars in front of him had yet to make their final stops and were no match for Humpe on fresh tires. He took the lead for the final time on Lap 168 and never looked back. Unsurprisingly, track position was of the highest importance at Richmond as none of the top five finishers started lower than twelfth and none of the top ten worse than fifteenth. Several sim racers in the running for the championship encountered trouble at Richmond , including both of the Stergios siblings. Jake Stergios ( ineX Racing ) was caught up in a crash and finished thirty-eighth while brother PJ sustained damage of his own but was able to continue and salvage a fourteenth place result. Chris Overland also went laps down early but took wave-arounds to get back into contention, finishing a respectable tenth. PJ Stergios' issues enabled Alfalla to leave Richmond with a nine-point cushion at the top of the standings with Boes an additional ten points back. Jake Stergios slipped to fourth, 54 points back after his troubles. Humpe's victory vaulted him to fifth in a dead heat with Overland but, trailing Alfalla by 62 points, he will need more runs like his Richmond win to get himself back into contention. Week Seven takes the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series to Las Vegas Motor Speedway , the first of four consecutive 1.5 mile tracks on the sim racing schedule. Vegas should play-out similarly to the Week Five race at Texas, so look for the Stergios brothers and Alfalla to be at the front. Can Humpe go back-to-back or will Slip Angle and ineX continue their dominance at the downforce tracks? Find out in two weeks on iRacingLive .
Richmond preview: Hamlin remains hometown favorite
RELATED: See full lineup " Race day schedule RICHMOND , Va. -- Denny Hamlin is unquestionably the "hometown favorite" whenever the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rolls into Richmond International Raceway . This week the Chesterfield, Virginia, native arrives in town having earned the esteemed title of 2016 Daytona 500 winner. So it seems hard to believe that Hamlin's last win at his home track was in 2010. He is an odds-on bet for every Richmond race weekend, with a pole win in 2006 and 2008 and race victories in 2009 and 2010. And he is fast this weekend. "I love coming back here and love the race track," Hamlin, 35, said Friday after opening practice. "We got to come here and test about a month or so ago and had a good test. Our cars ran really good here in the fall, which is encouraging and even through the tire change and the aero change, I was pretty happy with it. "We're looking forward to it. We haven't always run the best here over the last few years, but we're starting to get that back a little bit and really for me it's obviously a whole lot of motivation to come here and run well." Hamlin will start his No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota fifth in Sunday's Toyota Owners 400 (1 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), after the grid was set based on opening practice speeds because Friday's qualifying session was rained out. Hamlin was 11th fastest in Saturday's final practice and 14th best for a 10-consecutive lap average. A good showing here would be encouraging for this year's Daytona 500 winner. Since earning that career-defining trophy and Chase-making victory at Daytona, Hamlin has only two other top-10 finishes -- a pair of third-place finishes back-to-back at Phoenix International Raceway and Auto Club Speedway . It's been a rocky road of late, with a crash at Martinsville Speedway that gave Hamlin a 39th-place finish and then a mid-pack, 20th-place showing at last week's Bristol Motor Speedway . "I'd say trying to find ourselves is kind of the word I keep thinking of, but over the last few weeks we've tried a lot of out of the box things," Hamlin said of his season. Sometimes it can hurt momentum. "... We're here in April now and we've still got months until the playoffs start so I think it's an opportunity for us to work on things and try to get better. Ultimately, the checks don't get written until the end of the year so we need to make sure we're good when it really, really counts." Acknowledging there have been less-than-steller runs in recent weeks, Hamlin still seemed completely comfortable with the direction of the team and the luxury of being able to think and plan for the postseason because of the Daytona win. And Hamlin's Joe Gibbs Racing team is certainly showing the way. Three of Gibbs' four drivers have wins already. Reigning Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch has two and Carl Edwards won just last week. Hamlin has only one top-10 in his last six races here, but he does not appear too worried. On the contrary, he's in a first-time position of winning right out of the gate and having a chance to experiment and fine-tune for the championship run. "It's a tough balance because you treat tracks that are in the Chase differently than you would tracks that are not," Hamlin explained. "Texas, for instance, is in the Chase so we tried something, a direction that we were going to see if that direction was where we need to be when we go back there in the Chase. It was not the right direction, we know that, but the other races, I think you kind of know whether you're going to have a shot to win or not and you adjust accordingly. If you don't, you're more willing to try some things to learn, but you're always out there every race to try to win the race for sure. "There's some weekends you have a better opportunity than others. We know that our program is very strong on all the race tracks right now so we would definitely like to log some more wins before the race starts because ultimately the further you get into the summer, you want to start building some momentum and get some good things going heading into the Chase."
Stewart eager for more after Richmond return
RELATED: Race results " At-track photos RICHMOND , Va. -- Tony Stewart drove his Chevrolet onto Richmond International Raceway 's pit road this bright, sunny Sunday afternoon and after taking his helmet off and climbing out of the car, was all grins -- proudly declaring he could have raced another 400 miles. Stewart's day -- and his 19th-place finish -- was nothing but encouraging for the three-time champion making his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start of the year. "Smoke" missed the first eight races of what is his final season, recovering from a broken back suffered in a pre-season all-terrain vehicle (ATV) accident. RELATED: Full coverage of Stewart's injury, comeback Leaning back against his car, Stewart was upbeat and excited while speaking with reporters at the track post-race. He sipped his Coca-Cola and reflected on his long-awaited, highly anticipated return to the NASCAR driving seat with the kind of positive vibes equal to that of a race winner. "I love this job," he declared. "If you asked me how I felt, I would be perfectly content to have them just line us up and start another 400-mile race right now. I can promise you I can outlast a bunch of these guys. "I could run 800 more laps and still out-race a bunch of these guys. If anyone thinks we've lost something, we haven't lost (expletive)." MORE: Hear 'Smoke' on the radio It was exactly the kind of confidence, high expectation and bravado that has characterized Stewart's storied racing career. It's also why the Richmond crowd gave him a standing ovation during driver introductions and why so many NASCAR fans are counting on the 48-time winner to finish his remarkable career on top. Or at least making a darn good run at it. RELATED: Relive all of Stewart's w ins Stewart described his weekend back behind the wheel as feeling "like an old pair of shoes" and said it only took him about 10 laps "to get reacclimated" with the car and his team. Starting mid-pack, he ended up spending most of the race trying to earn the free pass to get back on the lead lap and, maddeningly, he would be one position shy of the lucky dog spot time-after-time. At one point as he fought hard to stay on the lead lap and dueled with then-race leader -- and eventual Toyota Owners 400 winner -- Carl Edwards to hold onto position. Edwards said after the race that he was impressed with Stewart's effort. "I was real happy he was back until about five laps into that battle," Edwards said smiling. "Let me tell you, the guy is competitive. I was thinking during that, what a heckuva run to have (the) first time back in the driver's seat. It's great to have him back." "I made it interesting for him for about 15 laps," Stewart proudly told his team on the radio after being lapped by Edwards a quarter of the way into the 400-lap event. After the race Stewart said, "I felt like we ran a good race. "It's so chaotic on the re-starts and I had a plan and I would try to execute my plan, but I zigged when I should have zagged every time for about four straight re-starts. "You just didn't know exactly where you needed to be, but that stuff will come." It wasn't just Stewart's first time turning laps this year, it was also his first time working with his new crew chief Mike Bugarewicz and the No. 14 driver seemed encouraged about that relationship too after the race. "Being on the pit box with him and listening to him communicate really helped a bunch," Stewart said of his time spent out of the car this season. "I think being as active with him as I could up to this point, really shortened the learning curve up. "I know he's going to sit there when we're done and wonder, 'what could I have done to communicate different?' Really it was nice and just felt like it clicked so I don't think there's a big learning curve there. We get this car a little better and we're going to have a lot of fun with it." Stewart said that -- shortly after his comeback announcement -- he won't compete in the full 500-miler at Talladega Superspeedway next weekend, per doctor's orders. But he will qualify the car, start the race and then hand over the steering wheel to Ty Dillon , who made three starts in Stewart's Chevrolet while the veteran was recovering. From there, it's all Stewart, all the time. And he proved Sunday that he is not only back, but very glad to be back. "I felt like I was doing everything I needed to do," Stewart said. "And I bet you go up and down this pit road and ask those guys if they think I'm back and they'd be shaking their heads and going, 'I don't think that he was ever gone.' " MORE: Stewart granted Chaise wa iver
Jimmie Johnson tops final Richmond Cup practice
RELATED: Final practice speeds Jimmie Johnson topped the leaderboard in Saturday's final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice at Richmond International Raceway at 120.849 mph in the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Right behind him was teammate Kasey Kahne in the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet at 120.622 mph. Rounding out the top five were Kyle Busch in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, pole-sitter and series points leader Kevin Harvick in the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet and Carl Edwards in the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Tony Stewart , in his second practice session of the 2016 campaign since sustaining a back injury in the offseason, was 23rd at 118.614 mph in the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet. Stewart drove 64 laps. Clint Bowyer 's No. 15 HScott Motorsports Chevrolet started smoking in the closing minutes of the session. He was 37th on the speed charts at 116.324 mph. Tune in Sunday for the Toyota Owners 400 (1 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Race Rewind: Richmond in 15
Relive all of the highlights from the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway in only 15 minutes.
Hot Lap: Point-of-view look at Richmond International Raceway
NASCAR's pace car driver, Brett Bodine, takes a spin around Richmond International Raceway to showcase the unique configuration the 0.75-mile track, and shares some tips on what to look for in the Toyota Owners 400.