Martin Truex Jr. dominates Stage 2 at Fontana

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Martin Truex Jr. dominates Stage 2 at Fontana
Jim Utter
By: Jim Utter
Mar 18, 2018, 9:34 PM

Martin Truex Jr. made a clean sweep of the stage victories in Sunday’s Auto Club 400.

Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing, Toyota Camry Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY
Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing, Toyota Camry Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY
Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing, Toyota Camry Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY, Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry Interstate Batteries
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry Interstate Batteries Adam Stevens
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry Interstate Batteries
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske, Ford Fusion Wurth

Truex, who had yet to win a stage entering Sunday’s race, completed a sweep with a dominating Stage 2 victory over Brad Keselowski.

Kyle Busch was third, Denny Hamlin fourth and Erik Jones completed the top-five.

Completing the Top 10 and also earning stage points were Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Larson, Clint Bowyer and rookie William Byron.

Logano was the first off pit road following stops during the break between Stages 1 and 2 and when Stage 2 went green on Lap 67, he held the lead.

Close behind Logano was Stage 1 winner Truex, Kyle Busch, Hamlin and Johnson.

Truex was able to run down Logano and retake the lead on Lap 72.

With 40 laps to go in Stage 2, Truex had already built up an almost 3-second lead over Logano. They were followed by Kyle Busch, Larson and Keselowski.

Larson hit pit road on Lap 88 as the first to make a green-flag stop in Stage 2 and once again the move triggered a slew of others to do the same, hoping to cut the 60-lap segment in half.

When the cycle of stops were completed on Lap 95, Truex had reclaimed the lead followed by Larson, Logano, Kyle Busch and Hamlin. Busch was the last car to make a stop, providing him slightly fresher tires when he returned to the lineup.

With 16 laps to go in Stage 2, Kyle Busch had used that advantage to power up to the runner-up position, more than 7 seconds behind Truex.

On Lap 110, Trevor Bayne hit the wall between Turns 3 and 4 to bring out the caution. Paul Menard also appeared to have suffered some damage on the track.

“Wow that hurt, I hit at about 200 (mph). We’re more than done. That’s the hardest hit I’ve ever had in my life,” Bayne said over his team radio.

All of the lead-lap cars elected to pit again for tires, with Truex being the first off pit road and holding the top spot on the restart on Lap 114.

Kevin Harvick, who wrecked in Stage 1 after winning the three previous Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races, ended Stage 2 in 38th place, six laps down.

 

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Martin Truex Jr. takes dominant win at Fontana

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About this article

Series NASCAR Cup
Event Fontana
Location Auto Club Speedway
Drivers Martin Truex Jr.
Teams Furniture Row Racing
Author Jim Utter
Article type Race report