Pow­er­ful Truex ends Busch’s streak of poles

De­fend­ing race champ is go­ing for sixth win of sea­son

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - Baseball - By The As­so­ci­ated Press

DOVER, Del. — Martin Truex Jr. has tried to en­joy his ca­reer year as much as he can. He says he never knows when the run might end.

He kept on rolling at Dover.

Truex will try to win his sixth race of the sea­son from the pole at Dover In­ter­na­tional Speed­way in NASCAR’s third play­off race. Truex has been the driver to beat all sea­son and he proved it again on Fri­day, when he turned a lap of 160.664 mph to win his sec­ond pole of the sea­son.

Truex had clinched a berth in the sec­ond round of the play­offs when he won at Chicagoland Speed­way. He had the dom­i­nant car last week at New Hamp­shire Mo­tor Speed­way un­til he was caught up in a wreck and fin­ished fifth.

Truex has nine wins in the No. 77 Toy­ota at Fur­ni­ture Row Rac­ing over the past two years af­ter win­ning just three times in his first 10 years. Oh, and Truex won this race last year.

“It takes so many things to come to­gether to be in a po­si­tion that I’ve been the last few years, re­ally,” he said. “I’m very thank­ful, I’m def­i­nitely en­joy­ing it. At the same time, there’s that chance of a cham­pi­onship out there. You can’t lose fo­cus and say, this is go­ing great, we’re go­ing to show up to the track and ev­ery­thing’s go­ing to be fine. You still have to work hard.”

Truex ended Kyle Busch’s bid at three straight poles. Busch started first in the first two play­off races and will start sec­ond on Sun­day for the all-Toy­ota front row. He ad­vanced to the sec­ond round when he won at New Hamp­shire.

“I’m glad for once we’re first and he’s not,” Truex said. “I’ve been sec­ond to him a lot, so it’s cool for us to get a pole.”

Play­off driv­ers Kyle Lar­son and Matt Kenseth will start third and fourth. Jim­mie John­son, a seven-time NASCAR cham­pion, starts his run at his 12th Dover vic­tory back in 17th.

“I know when it comes to race time, we will be fine here,” John­son said.

Dover marks the first cut­off race and the play­off field will be sliced from 16 driv­ers to 12. Austin Dil­lon, Ryan New­man, Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne are the bot­tom four driv­ers in the play­off stand­ings. Dil­lon starts 23rd, New­man is eighth, Busch, the Day­tona 500 cham­pion, starts 13th and Kahne is 21st.

“It’s go­ing to be a race within the race,” Dil­lon said. “You’ve got to be smart through­out and make sure you’re there at the end and put your­self in good po­si­tions. I’m look­ing for­ward to the chal­lenge.”

Other play­off driv­ers and start­ing spots are: Manch­ester High grad­u­ate Denny Ham­lin starts sixth, Kevin Har­vick ninth, Ryan Blaney 11th, Chase El­liott 12th, Ricky Sten­house Jr. 15th, Brad Ke­selowski 16th, and Jamie McMur­ray is 26th.

Lar­son and Ke­selowski also got au­to­matic spots in the sec­ond round on points.

Sten­house holds the fi­nal trans­fer spot to the sec­ond round and McMur­ray is 11th.

“You are go­ing to be de­pen­dent on the team to kind of fill you in like if you have to have an­other po­si­tion or if some­one is pres­sur­ing you that you can maybe give up that po­si­tion and not get wrecked,” McMur­ray said.

Martin Truex Jr. has five vic­to­ries this sea­son af­ter hav­ing just three in his first 10 years. Mon­ster En­ergy Cup play­offs Sun­day: 2 p.m. TV: NBCSN

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