As weekends go, they don’t get much better than the one Team Penske just had.
On Saturday night at Phoenix, Penske drivers Simon Pagenaud and Will Power finished 1-2 in the Verizon IndyCar Series race, which Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski followed up with a 1-2 finish in the Toyota Owners 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway.
It was the first time in Team Penske’s more than 50-year history that the squad swept the top two spots in both series in the same weekend.
While it’s clear Team Penske won the weekend, there were plenty of other winners and losers at Richmond.
In a race sponsored by Toyota, Fords captured four of the top five finishing positions. In addition to the Penske 1-2, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was fourth, one position ahead of Kevin Harvick. This year, Ford could win the Cup Manufacturers’ Championship for the first time since 2002.
Yes, the Toyotas were fast at times — Matt Kenseth won the first stage and led 164 laps — but only one Toyota driver, Denny Hamlin, finished in the top nine in a race where Toyota was the title sponsor. And Toyota didn’t win Saturday’s XFINITY Series race, either.
Although the crowd at Richmond was disappointing, the racing throughout the pack was sensational, as high temperatures and low downforce had the cars slipping and sliding a lot, which made for entertaining battles from front to back.
As has been the case on several occasions this year, Busch had a car fast enough to win, but he was unable to seal the deal. This time, a late-race commitment-line violation meant doom for Busch’s hopes for a victory.
Thrust into a tough situation when Carl Edwards abruptly left Joe Gibbs Racing, Suarez has had a steep learning curve. But he’s done well so far this year, and he finished 12th at Richmond, which was pretty good, especially when you realize he was three laps down at one point.
Loser: Hendrick Motorsports
After Jimmie Johnson won the last two races, this time the Hendrick organization didn’t have a single car finish in the top 10 and three of their four drivers didn’t even crack the top 20. Worse yet, in the closing laps, Johnson accidentally stuffed teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. into the wall.
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Winner: Jamie McMurray
While Kyle Larson has understandably gotten most of the buzz at Chip Ganassi Racing this year, McMurray has quietly put together a stellar season. He finished sixth at Richmond and is seventh in points.
Once again, Blaney had a very fast Wood Brothers Racing Ford, qualifying on the outside of Row 1. But late-race contact resulted in a cut tire and a 36th-place finish. Not the afternoon he was looking for.
Winner: Aric Almirola
For the first time since the season-opening Daytona 500, Almirola finished in the top 10, with an excellent ninth-place run in the Richard Petty Motorsports Ford.
Loser: Erik Jones
One of the brightest young talents on the circuit, Jones cut a tire and completed just four laps before he hit the wall and got knocked out of the race. Oof.