Martin Truex Jr. makes it look easy in dominant Kentucky Speedway win

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Martin Truex Jr. boldly declared his Toyota the best car he had ever raced, and several statistics make it hard to dispute him.

There also was plenty of visual evidence of how close to perfect his Saturday night went.

Truex was dominant throughout and had enough left on a final restart to win the NASCAR Cup race night at Kentucky Speedway.

“It was very big to do what we did tonight,” Truex said. “I can never recall saving fuel and pulling away from everybody before, so it was pretty amazing.”

Second in points entering the 400-mile event, Truex started second beside Kyle Busch and won the first two stages. Truex led the final segment by as many as 15 seconds before a final caution created overtime and bunched the field together.

That made no difference as Truex got a push past Busch on the restart and went on to his third victory of the season and 10th of his career. He led five times for 152 of 274 laps and swept all three stages in the No. 78 Toyota to earn 60 points, including seven playoff points, and draw within one of standings leader Kyle Larson, who finished second in a Chevy.

Truex's dominant performance wasn't the only reason he was smiling. He was eager to get back and bring his girlfriend, Sherry Pollex, home after a medical procedure. Pollex has battled ovarian cancer and tweeted Saturday that there had been a recurrence requiring surgery.

“Everything went perfectly good, went as planned,” he said. “I'm bringing her home tomorrow, so I'm excited to see her and everything's going great. She was pretty excited.”

Chase Elliott was third in a Chevy, followed by Denny Hamlin and Busch in Toyotas. Busch led 112 laps, but fell short of his third Kentucky victory.

Then again, Truex wasn't inclined to let anyone get close in earning his first Kentucky triumph.

Pole winner Busch pounced right away and led the first 66 laps but often had Truex close by in the battle of Toyotas. Truex twice found the speed to make timely passes and ultimately took the first two stages, but he saved his best for the last segment.

Running seventh as the third stage began, Truex was back in front within several laps and merely got stronger as he went along. He had a 13-second lead with about 55 laps remaining and was running all alone before Kurt Busch blew an engine with two laps left to create extra time.

It didn't matter.

Truex's dominance stole the spotlight from Kyle Busch, who won the Xfinity Series race earlier Saturday and for a while appeared headed toward NASCAR's first same-day sweep of the two series. But Kentucky's most dominant driver — nor anybody — else could touch Truex.

Larson's finish was impressive considering he started 40th after failing inspection on Friday. He soon was among the contenders before being penalized for speeding on pit road, overcoming that setback to pass Kyle Busch after the final restart.

“We were second best, but he's in a whole new league right now,” Larson said, giving a nod to Truex.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. led three laps and finished 12th, one spot higher than he started in his final Kentucky start.

 

Quaker State 400 Presented by Advance Auto Parts Results

Saturday

At Kentucky Speedway

Sparta, Ky.

Lap length: 1.50 miles

(Start position in parentheses)

1. (2) Martin Truex Jr, Toyota, 274 laps, 149.0 rating, 60 points.

2. (40) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 274, 107.6, 43.

3. (12) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 274, 104.4, 36.

4. (5) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 274, 98.2, 40.

5. (1) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 274, 127.9, 50.

6. (14) Erik Jones, Toyota, 274, 102.7, 40.

7. (4) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 274, 103.8, 41.

8. (11) Joey Logano, Ford, 274, 87.8, 29.

9. (7) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 274, 112.0, 42.

10. (6) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 273, 88.0, 27.

11. (17) Darrell Wallace Jr, Ford, 273, 75.2, 0.

12. (13) Dale Earnhardt Jr, Chevrolet, 273, 82.1, 25.

13. (16) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 273, 84.7, 26.

14. (18) Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Ford, 273, 74.5, 23.

15. (20) Danica Patrick, Ford, 273, 69.9, 22.

16. (22) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 273, 62.9, 21.

17. (3) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 273, 97.3, 33.

18. (9) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 273, 76.7, 19.

19. (25) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 273, 59.2, 18.

20. (28) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 272, 62.9, 17.

21. (24) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 272, 59.3, 16.

22. (29) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 272, 58.8, 15.

23. (21) Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 271, 55.2, 14.

24. (26) David Ragan, Ford, 270, 50.7, 13.

25. (30) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 270, 48.2, 12.

26. (35) Landon Cassill, Ford, 268, 49.6, 11.

27. (31) Ryan Sieg, Toyota, 266, 42.8, 0.

28. (33) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 265, 40.9, 9.

29. (36) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 265, 38.5, 8.

30. (15) Kurt Busch, Ford, engine, 264, 73.8, 11.

31. (38) Timmy Hill, Chevrolet, 261, 34.1, 0.

32. (37) BJ McLeod, Chevrolet, 260, 32.2, 0.

33. (27) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 253, 36.0, 4.

34. (32) Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, engine, 212, 41.0, 3.

35. (39) Gray Gaulding, Chevrolet, 207, 28.3, 2.

36. (34) Joey Gase, Toyota, accident, 129, 29.3, 0.

37. (19) Trevor Bayne, Ford, accident, 101, 46.2, 1.

38. (23) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, accident, 93, 50.0, 1.

39. (10) Brad Keselowski, Ford, accident, 89, 51.8, 1.

40. (8) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, accident, 87, 69.6, 3.

 

Race Statistics

Average Speed of Race Winner: 138.615 mph.

Time of Race: 2 hours, 57 minutes, 55 seconds.

Margin of Victory: Under Caution.

Caution Flags: 9 for 0 laps.

Lead Changes: 9 among 4 drivers.

Lap Leaders: Ky.Busch 1-28; M.Truex 29; Ky.Busch 30-67; M.Truex 68-87; Ky.Busch 88-133; M.Truex 134-163; J.Logano 164-170; M.Truex 171-225; D.Earnhardt 226-228; M.Truex 229-274

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Led, Laps Led): M.Truex, 5 times for 147 laps; Ky.Busch, 3 times for 109 laps; J.Logano, 1 time for 6 laps; D.Earnhardt, 1 time for 2 laps.

Wins: J. Johnson, 3; M.Truex, 3; B.Keselowski, 2; K.Larson, 2; R.Stenhouse, 2; R.Blaney, 1; Ku.Busch, 1; A.Dillon, 1; K.Harvick, 1; J.Logano, 1; R.Newman, 1.

Top 16 in Points: 1. K.Larson, 710; 2. M.Truex, 709; 3. Ky.Busch, 609; 4. K.Harvick, 599; 5. C.Elliott, 560; 6. J.McMurray, 545; 7. D.Hamlin, 538; 8. B.Keselowski, 536; 9. J.Johnson, 519; 10. C.Bowyer, 495; 11. M.Kenseth, 478; 12. J.Logano, 471; 13. R.Blaney, 462; 14. E.Jones, 426; 15. Ku.Busch,

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