Truex Jnr sweeps Kentucky NASCAR race

Daniel Herrero

Sunday 15th July, 2018 - 1:32pm

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Martin Truex Jnr

Martin Truex Jnr won each of the first two stages and the race overall but still faced his challenges in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Kentucky.

The defending champion led virtually all the way but had to come from behind in the second and third stages of the race as others rolled the dice on pit strategy.

He regained the lead for good when he passed Kurt Busch with 44 laps remaining and went on to take a 1.901s win over Team Penske duo Ryan Blaney and Brad Keselowski.

Truex Jnr had qualified on pole and the #78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota led until pitting just before halfway through the 80-lap first stage.

He faced a brief battle with Keselowski upon rejoining the circuit, just as Keselowski was called for pit lane speeding.

Kyle Larson had qualified 18th but the #42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet was put back to rear of grid when he missed pre-race driver introductions.

He had climbed to eighth when the first stage came to an end, while Kevin Harvick (#4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford) and Kyle Busch (#18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) were placed second and third, ahead of Blaney (#12 Ford).

Truex Jnr sat fourth for the start of Stage 2 after Joey Logano (#22 Team Penske Ford) chose to not pit under Caution and Kurt Busch took only two new tyres.

Logano quickly dropped away from the front of the field as Truex Jnr passed he and Jimmie Johnson (#48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet), the Stage 1 lucky dog, and set after Kurt Busch.

Truex Jnr quickly bridged the small gap and got by the #41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford of Kurt Busch on Lap 98.

He had pulled just over three seconds clear when the first unscheduled Caution of the day/night affair came for Alex Bowman’s hit with the wall at Turn 3, after losing a tyre on the #88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

Most took two tyres under yellow and Truex Jnr retained the lead, but with Kyle Busch now next in the queue from Harvick, Blaney, and Paul Menard (#21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford), while Kurt Busch was back in eighth.

Truex Jnr remained in front when the race went green again for the final 46 laps of the stage.

Kyle Busch had a battle on his hands with Blaney but ended up prevailing to hold onto second, while Harvick and Larson were fourth and fifth respectively.

Keselowski shot up from 15th to first by taking only two new tyres during the interval between stages, while Kyle Busch lost several positions from where he resumed in fourth after getting crossed up twice on the restart lap.

Truex Jnr and Harvick had a duel for second before Larson came through to take over the position from the #78 Toyota.

Larson’s race began to unravel, however, due to track bar issues with the #42 Chevrolet and he dropped away from the front-runners.

Truex Jnr caught Keselowski but couldn’t pull off a move until the #2 Ford got loose through Turn 4 on Lap 201.

There was still time for another twist when an engine failure for JJ Yeley’s #23 BK Racing Toyota brought about the second and final unscheduled Caution of the race.

Kurt Busch moved from fifth to first in pit lane with only two tyres changed on the #41 Ford, ahead of Truex Jnr, Blaney, Kyle Busch, Keselowski, and Harvick.

Truex Jnr made the pass nine laps into the stint, inviting Blaney to do likewise three corners later.

He eventually took the chequered flag comfortably clear of Blaney and Keselowski, while Kyle Busch claimed fourth.

Rounding out the top 10 were Harvick, Kurt Busch, Erik Jones (#20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota), Aric Almirola (#10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford), Larson, and Logano.

Kyle Busch continues to lead the series with five wins and 30 playoff points to his name.

Round 20 is the Foxwood Resorts Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 20-22 (local time).

Race highlights

Results: Quaker State 400 presented by Walmart, Kentucky Speedway

Pos Num Driver Make Laps Led Status
1 78 Martin Truex Jnr Toyota 267 174 Running
2 12 Ryan Blaney Ford 267 1 Running
3 2 Brad Keselowski Ford 267 38 Running
4 18 Kyle Busch Toyota 267 0 Running
5 4 Kevin Harvick Ford 267 0 Running
6 41 Kurt Busch Ford 267 45 Running
7 20 Erik Jones Toyota 267 0 Running
8 10 Aric Almirola Ford 267 0 Running
9 42 Kyle Larson Chevrolet 267 0 Running
10 22 Joey Logano Ford 267 5 Running
11 21 Paul Menard Ford 267 0 Running
12 14 Clint Bowyer Ford 267 0 Running
13 9 Chase Elliott Chevrolet 267 0 Running
14 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 267 3 Running
15 19 Daniel Suarez Toyota 267 0 Running
16 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota 267 0 Running
17 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 267 0 Running
18 38 David Ragan Ford 267 0 Running
19 6 Matt Kenseth Ford 267 0 Running
20 24 William Byron Chevrolet 267 0 Running
21 31 Ryan Newman Chevrolet 267 0 Running
22 3 Austin Dillon Chevrolet 266 0 Running
23 37 Chris Buescher Chevrolet 266 0 Running
24 34 Michael McDowell Ford 266 0 Running
25 95 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet 266 0 Running
26 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jnr Ford 266 0 Running
27 43 Bubba Wallace Chevrolet 264 0 Running
28 15 Ross Chastain Chevrolet 263 0 Running
29 13 Ty Dillon Chevrolet 263 0 Running
30 47 AJ Allmendinger Chevrolet 262 0 Running
31 72 Corey LaJoie Chevrolet 260 0 Running
32 51 BJ McLeod Chevrolet 256 0 Running
33 00 Landon Cassill Chevrolet 256 0 Running
34 66 Timmy Hill Toyota 254 0 Running
35 7 Jesse Little Chevrolet 253 0 Running
36 99 Garrett Smithley Chevrolet 251 0 Running
37 32 Matt DiBenedetto Ford 200 0 Vibration
38 23 JJ Yeley Toyota 199 0 Engine
39 88 Alex Bowman Chevrolet 108 1 Crash

Standings

Pos Driver Pts Gap Starts Wins Playoff pts
1 Kyle Busch 799 19 5 30
2 Kevin Harvick 740 -59 19 5 27
3 Martin Truex Jnr 689 -110 19 4 25
4 Joey Logano 648 -151 19 1 7
5 Brad Keselowski 630 -169 19 0 4
6 Clint Bowyer 629 -170 19 2 10
7 Kurt Busch 601 -198 19 0 2
8 Kyle Larson 581 -218 19 0 0
9 Denny Hamlin 559 -240 19 0 2
10 Ryan Blaney 546 -253 19 0 4
11 Aric Almirola 534 -265 19 0 1
12 Jimmie Johnson 484 -315 19 0 0
13 Erik Jones 480 -319 19 1 5
14 Chase Elliott 469 -330 19 0 0
15 Alex Bowman 427 -372 19 0 0
16 Ricky Stenhouse Jnr 418 -381 19 0 2
17 Paul Menard 404 -395 19 0 1
18 Austin Dillon 362 -437 19 1 5
19 Ryan Newman 348 -451 19 0 0
20 Daniel Suarez 344 -455 19 0 0
21 Jamie McMurray 336 -463 19 0 0
22 William Byron 335 -464 19 0 0
23 AJ Allmendinger 314 -485 19 0 1
24 Chris Buescher 307 -492 19 0 0
25 Bubba Wallace 302 -497 19 0 0
26 David Ragan 282 -517 19 0 0
27 Kasey Kahne 281 -518 19 0 0
28 Michael McDowell 273 -526 19 0 0
29 Ty Dillon 252 -547 19 0 0
30 Matt DiBenedetto 215 -584 19 0 0
31 Trevor Bayne 185 -614 14 0 0
32 Gray Gaulding 113 -686 17 0 0
33 Landon Cassill 93 -706 12 0 0
34 Cole Whitt 87 -712 9 0 0
35 DJ Kennington 82 -717 7 0 0
36 Matt Kenseth 67 -732 5 0 0
37 Corey LaJoie 64 -735 10 0 0
38 Jeffrey Earnhardt 61 -738 7 0 0
39 Brendan Gaughan 49 -750 3 0 0
40 Reed Sorenson 36 -763 8 0 0
41 Harrison Rhodes 23 -776 5 0 0
42 Mark Thompson 15 -784 1 0 0
43 Chris Cook 6 -793 1 0 0
44 Tomy Drissi 5 -794 1 0 0
45 Kyle Weatherman 4 -795 1 0 0
46 Derrike Cope 4 -795 2 0 0
47 Danica Patrick 2 -797 1 0 0
48 Cody Ware 1 -798 2 0 0
49 Justin Marks 0 -799 2 0 0
50 David Gilliland 0 -799 1 0 0
51 Ray Black Jnr 0 -799 1 0 0
52 Ross Chastain 0 -799 17 0 0
53 JJ Yeley 0 -799 5 0 0
54 Parker Kligerman 0 -799 2 0 0
55 Timothy Peters 0 -799 1 0 0
56 Cole Custer 0 -799 2 0 0
57 Joey Gase 0 -799 3 0 0
58 Timmy Hill 0 -799 8 0 0
59 BJ McLeod 0 -799 5 0 0

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