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Cook Out 400: Chris Buescher Clinches Playoff Berth With Richmond Win

Chris Buescher burns it down at Richmond after earning his third career Cup win. (Photo: Sean Gardner | Getty Images)

RICHMOND, Va. - RFK Racing's Chris Buescher clinched his spot in the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with an impressive victory in the Cook Out 400 at Richmond Raceway on Sunday afternoon in Virginia.

Buescher led 88 laps en route to the third career Cup Series win while earning 49 points. Although a late-race caution almost derailed the team's chance at their first win since the Bristol Night Race in 2022, Buescher nailed the final restart and held off Denny Hamlin to claim a huge victory for RFK Racing.

"Yeah, that was smooth sailing there trying to take care of the Fastenal Mustang," Buescher said. "These guys over at RFK, the 17 team, gave me a great hot rod. It was so good. Just trying to take care of it there."

Buescher wasn't the only RFK Ford to show impressive speed at Richmond. Team co-owner Brad Keselowski finished in sixth after leading a race-high 102 laps and winning Stage 2.

"Happy for Chris. We are incrementally building," Keselowski said. "Solid day for both teams here at RFK. I’m happy for everybody that works on these teams, everybody that supports us with Fastenal and Ford, Build Subs. We led a lot of laps with both cars. Neither car really started up front. Drove through. Great job with the pit crews. A lot to be proud of today."

Overall, the Ford camp had one of the best races of the season for the Blue Oval with seven cars finishing inside the top 11.

Hamlin followed up his Pocono victory with a runner-up finish at his home track. He earned 49 points, which was tied for the most in the 400-lap race.

"Man, I’m happy for Chris, RFK, those guys, I know they worked really hard to get to this point," Hamlin said. "I can appreciate the struggle that it is to get to this point. Congratulations to them. Definitely a great job by this Mavis team. Kept me in it all day long. We just lacked a little, little bit to be the best there. So we just need to improve on it. Still a good day."

Results from the 2023 Cook Out 400 at Richmond Raceway are listed below.

Other Race Facts

All 36 starters in the Cook Out 400 were within five laps of the leader by the end of the race, resulting in the entire field being closer together than any other race in NASCAR history, according to Joseph Srigley. Although he finished last, BJ McLeod's 395 laps completed was the fewest of any driver, which still results in completing 98.75% of the total laps.

Toyota led 172 of the first 181 laps of the Cook Out 400 and 199 laps in total. Despite being upfront and leading just under 50% of the race, Denny Hamlin (second) and Martin Truex Jr. (seventh) were the only Toyotas inside the top 10. In addition, Bubba Wallace (80 laps) and Tyler Reddick (81 laps) led the most laps combined (161 laps) by 23XI Racing in the team's history.

Stewart-Haas Racing had the team's best showing in quite some time. All four SHR Fords finished inside the top 11 with Ryan Preece (fifth), Aric Almirola (eighth), Kevin Harvick (10th) and Chase Briscoe (11th). According to statistician Trey Ryan, this marks the first time since Phoenix in spring of 2020 that the team has done this.

"I think that’s just a product of working hard," Preece said. "Sitting and twiddling your thumbs isn’t gonna get you the results that you really want. I know that from racing, so we’ve just been working hard and trying to find what I like, find what Aric likes, Kevin likes, Chase likes and I feel like we’re all trending in that direction.”

It's also the first time SHR has had all four cars finish ahead of all four Hendrick Motorsports cars since Atlanta in 2019, which was the second race of that season.

Kyle Busch's third-place finish resulted in yet another lead lap finish for Busch at Richmond. In fact, over the course of his entire Cup Series career (36 starts), Busch has completed 14,428 out of a possible 14,429 laps. Only missing one lap means Busch has completed 99.993% of the laps at Richmond throughout his career.

GRID Ranking

The 2023 GRID Ranking is the seventh year of the world's premier motorsport ranking and was initially released on Sunday, April 2.

Drivers in the seven racing series participating in the ranking (NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula 1, Formula E, World Rally Championship, Repco Supercars, MotoGP) have earned GRID Ratings, which helped determine their seeding during Week 17 of the 2023 GRID Ranking.







William Byron






Martin Truex Jr.






Kyle Busch






Kyle Larson






Denny Hamlin






Week 18 of the GRID Ranking:

The next race on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway. The race will take place on Sunday, Aug. 6 with coverage on USA Network set to begin at 2:30 p.m. ET.


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