Truex Jnr opens 2018 account in Fontana

Speedcafe.com

Monday 19th March, 2018 - 1:03pm

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Martin Truex Jnr

Martin Truex Jnr has taken his first win of 2018 in comprehensive fashion in the Auto Club 400 at Fontana as Kevin Harvick’s hot streak ended in the wall.

The 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion led at the end of each stage and 125 of the 200 laps as he finished over 11s ahead of second-placed Kyle Larson.

Truex Jnr’s two spells in the lead of Stage 1 bookended that of Kyle Busch (#18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota), who rounded up the #78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota on Lap 11 and stayed in the effective lead until being re-passed by the pole-sitter on Lap 31.

Harvick (#4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford) brought about the first Caution when he banged into the side of Larson (#42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet) on Lap 38 and rebounded back up into the wall, an incident for which the winner of the last three races accepted blame.

Joey Logano (#22 Team Penske Ford) was at the head of the field for the start of Stage 2, but only spent six racing laps there before being passed by Truex Jnr.

But for a round of green flag pit stops, #78 held top spot until the end of the stage, which featured a Caution for Trevor Bayne smacking the wall in his #6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford on Lap 110.

Truex Jnr twice had to come from behind in the final stage of the race.

He restarted second alongside Kyle Busch and soon dropped more positions in the pits after David Ragan (#38 Front Row Motorsports Ford) hit the wall with a cut tyre and brought about a Caution.

Car #78 fell as low as fifth before moving back up through the field and he regained first position from Kyle Busch on Lap 161.

They pitted together a lap later and the positions switched back, but Truex Jnr took over the lead for good on Lap 168 and cleared out.

Kyle Busch battled an untidy #18 Toyota thereafter and ended up finishing third after Larson got by on Lap 180.

The rest of the top 10 was Brad Keselowski (#22 Team Penske Ford), Logano, Denny Hamlin (#11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota), Erik Jones (#20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota), Ryan Blaney (#12 Team Penske Ford), Jimmie Johnson (#48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet), and Austin Dillon (#3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet).

Harvick did take the chequered flag, nine laps down in 35th position.

Truex Jnr takes over the series lead and now has seven playoff points in the bank, second only to Harvick’s 11, with Round 6 the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway this coming weekend (March 23-25).

Harvick hits the wall

Race highlights

Results: Auto Club 400, California Speedway

Pos Num Driver Make Laps Led Status
1 78 Martin Truex Jnr Toyota 200 125 Running
2 42 Kyle Larson Chevrolet 200 0 Running
3 18 Kyle Busch Toyota 200 62 Running
4 2 Brad Keselowski Ford 200 0 Running
5 22 Joey Logano Ford 200 9 Running
6 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota 200 1 Running
7 20 Erik Jones Toyota 200 0 Running
8 12 Ryan Blaney Ford 200 0 Running
9 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 200 0 Running
10 3 Austin Dillon Chevrolet 200 0 Running
11 14 Clint Bowyer Ford 199 0 Running
12 10 Aric Almirola Ford 199 0 Running
13 88 Alex Bowman Chevrolet 199 0 Running
14 41 Kurt Busch Ford 199 0 Running
15 24 William Byron Chevrolet 199 1 Running
16 9 Chase Elliott Chevrolet 199 0 Running
17 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 199 1 Running
18 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jnr Ford 199 0 Running
19 21 Paul Menard Ford 199 0 Running
20 43 Darrell Wallace Jnr Chevrolet 199 0 Running
21 31 Ryan Newman Chevrolet 199 0 Running
22 47 AJ Allmendinger Chevrolet 199 0 Running
23 19 Daniel Suarez Toyota 199 0 Running
24 95 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet 199 1 Running
25 38 David Ragan Ford 199 0 Running
26 34 Michael McDowell Ford 199 0 Running
27 13 Ty Dillon Chevrolet 198 0 Running
28 72 Cole Whitt Chevrolet 198 0 Running
29 15 Ross Chastain Chevrolet 198 0 Running
30 37 Chris Buescher Chevrolet 197 0 Running
31 32 Matt DiBenedetto Ford 196 0 Running
32 23 Gray Gaulding Toyota 194 0 Running
33 51 Timmy Hill Chevrolet 193 0 Running
34 55 Reed Sorenson Chevrolet 193 0 Running
35 4 Kevin Harvick Ford 191 0 Running
36 00 Jeffrey Earnhardt Chevrolet 189 0 Running
37 6 Trevor Bayne Ford 108 0 Crash

Standings

Pos Driver Pts Gap Starts Wins Pl’off pts
1 Martin Truex Jnr 216 5 1 7
2 Kyle Busch 207 -9 5 0 1
3 Joey Logano 197 -19 5 0 0
4 Brad Keselowski 183 -33 5 0 1
5 Ryan Blaney 181 -35 5 0 1
6 Denny Hamlin 176 -40 5 0 0
7 Kyle Larson 174 -42 5 0 0
8 Kevin Harvick 170 -46 5 3 11
9 Clint Bowyer 155 -61 5 0 0
10 Aric Almirola 148 -68 5 0 0
11 Kurt Busch 144 -72 5 0 2
12 Austin Dillon 141 -75 5 1 5
13 Erik Jones 132 -84 5 0 0
14 Ryan Newman 117 -99 5 0 0
15 Paul Menard 115 -101 5 0 0
16 Alex Bowman 115 -101 5 0 0
17 Ricky Stenhouse Jnr 107 -109 5 0 0
18 Jimmie Johnson 97 -119 5 0 0
19 Darrell Wallace Jnr 94 -122 5 0 0
20 William Byron 91 -125 5 0 0
21 Chase Elliott 87 -129 5 0 0
22 Chris Buescher 82 -134 5 0 0
23 Daniel Suarez 81 -135 5 0 0
24 Michael McDowell 75 -141 5 0 0
25 AJ Allmendinger 74 -142 5 0 0
26 Jamie McMurray 73 -143 5 0 0
27 Trevor Bayne 68 -148 5 0 0
28 David Ragan 66 -150 5 0 0
29 Kasey Kahne 65 -151 5 0 0
30 Matt DiBenedetto 49 -167 5 0 0
31 Ty Dillon 47 -169 5 0 0
32 Gray Gaulding 30 -186 5 0 0
33 Jeffrey Earnhardt 28 -188 5 0 0
34 Cole Whitt 27 -189 3 0 0
35 DJ Kennington 19 -197 2 0 0
36 Mark Thompson 15 -201 1 0 0
37 Brendan Gaughan 9 -207 1 0 0
38 Harrison Rhodes 4 -212 1 0 0
39 Reed Sorenson 3 -213 1 0 0
40 Danica Patrick 2 -214 1 0 0
41 Corey LaJoie 2 -214 2 0 0
42 Justin Marks 0 -216 1 0 0
43 David Gilliland 0 -216 1 0 0
44 Cole Custer 0 -216 1 0 0
45 Ross Chastain 0 -216 4 0 0
46 Joey Gase 0 -216 1 0 0
47 Timmy Hill 0 -216 2 0 0

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