Martin Truex Jr. cruises to repeat victory at Kentucky Speedway
Martin Truex Jr. repeated his victory at Kentucky Speedway of a year ago in dominating fashion Saturday night.
Truex won the first two stages and easily held off Ryan Blaney to capture the win in the Quaker State 400, leading 174 of the 267 laps.
The win is Truex’s fourth in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series this season and 19th of his career. He becomes the third driver (Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch are the others) with at least four wins in the first 19 races of the 2018 season.
"What a hell of a night this was," Truex said. "That just shows you how hard it is. We made it look easy last year but it certainly wasn't. I just want to thank my guys for sticking with me. They have really been working hard trying to figure it out.
“It feels good, you know? You never know how these races are going to play out. You never know quite what is going to happen and we had such a strong Toyota tonight they weren’t going to beat us. You never know how they’re going to turn out, so we just keep our heads down.
"We don’t get too excited. We keep working on the race car and trying to stay calm and not get ahead of ourselves, so we had to make a lot of adjustments tonight on the car and had to battle back a from a few times getting passed for the lead and coming out of the pits second or third.
"So many people make this possible. I’m just the lucky guy who gets to drive them, so pretty exciting night for us and two in a row at a race track is pretty cool, so hell yeah.”
Brad Keselowski finished third, Kyle Busch fourth and Harvick completed the top-five.
Rounding out the Top 10 were Kurt Busch, Erik Jones, Aric Almirola, Kyle Larson and Joey Logano.
Following pit stops between Stages 2 and 3, Keselowski was first off pit road taking only two new tires. He led the way when Stage 3 went green on Lap 167, followed by Truex, Kyle Busch, Harvick and Blaney.
On Lap 169, Larson moved into third ahead of Harvick as Keselowski and Truex continued to lead the way.
On Lap 172, Larson got around Truex off Turn 4 to move into the second position and immediately began gaining ground on leader Keselowski.
Truex moved back around Larson and into the second position on Lap 182 as Keselowski’s lead continued to grow. “Tight on exit,” Larson told his team over the radio.
With 80 laps left in the race, Truex had cut his deficit to Keselowski to under a second and was closing fast.
Larson developed issues with his track bar and the problem forced him to drop back in the lineup. With 70 laps remaining, he had fallen to seventh. “Man, this sucks,” Larson said over his team radio.
Truex finally moved back into the lead with a pass of Keselowski off Turn 4 on Lap 201.
On Lap 207, it appeared J.J. Yeley blew the engine in his No. 23 Toyota in Turn 3 and came to a rest up again the wall to bring out a caution.
Kurt Busch took only two right-side tires and was the first off pit road. He led the way when the race returned to green on Lap 215, followed by Truex, Kyle Busch, Blaney and Harvick.
Ryan Newman was penalized for removing equipment from his pit stall during his stop and had to restart from the rear of the field.
Blaney moved up to third on Lap 215.
Truex moved to the inside of Kurt Busch and reclaimed the lead with 44 laps to go. Busch dropped back to third as Blaney moved up into the runner-up position.
With 30 to go, Truex held a 1.4 second lead over Blaney as Keselowski had moved into third. Kyle Busch was running fourth and Kurt Busch was fifth.
Truex had expanded his lead to 1.7 seconds over Blaney with 20 laps left in the race. Keselowski was third, over six seconds behind Truex.
With five laps to go, Truex held a commanding 2.3 second lead over Blaney.
|1||78||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||267||174||60|
|22||3||Austin Dillon||Chevrolet||266||1 lap||15|
|23||37||Chris Buescher||Chevrolet||266||1 lap||14|
|24||34||Michael McDowell||Ford||266||1 lap||13|
|25||95||Kasey Kahne||Chevrolet||266||1 lap||12|
|26||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Ford||266||1 lap||11|
|27||43||Darrell Wallace Jr.||Chevrolet||264||3 laps||10|
|28||15||Ross Chastain||Chevrolet||263||4 laps|
|29||13||Ty Dillon||Chevrolet||263||4 laps||8|
|30||47||A.J. Allmendinger||Chevrolet||262||5 laps||7|
|31||72||Corey Lajoie||Chevrolet||260||7 laps||6|
|32||51||B.J. McLeod||Chevrolet||256||11 laps|
|33||00||Landon Cassill||Chevrolet||256||11 laps||4|
|34||66||Timmy Hill||Toyota||254||13 laps|
|35||07||Jesse Little||Chevrolet||253||14 laps|
|36||99||Garrett Smithley||Chevrolet||251||16 laps|
|37||32||Matt DiBenedetto||Ford||200||67 laps||Vibration||1|
|38||23||J.J. Yeley||Toyota||199||68 laps||Engine|
|39||88||Alex Bowman||Chevrolet||108||159 laps||1||Accident||1|
Martin Truex Jr. sweeps the first two stages at Kentucky
Ryan Blaney: Kentucky result "not a win," but "it's a positive"