Martin Truex Jr. of Denver-based Furniture Row Racing returns to Victory Lane.
SPARTA, KY.» Martin Truex Jr. was dominant throughout and had enough left on a final restart to win the NASCAR Cup race Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway.
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 flew past Busch on the restart and went on to post his third victory of the season and 10th of his career. He led five times for 152-of-274 laps in the No. 78 Toyota of Denver-based Furniture Row Racing to draw within a point of standings leader Kyle Larson, who finished second in a Chevy.
Chase Elliott was third in a Chevy, followed by Denny Hamlin and Busch — each in a Toyota. 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.
Busch, the polesitter, 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 — and everybody else — couldn’t come close to beating 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.
Longtime star Dale Earnhardt Jr. led three laps and finished 12th, one spot higher than he started in his final Kentucky race.
Erik Jones, Truex’s FRR teammate, finished sixth.
Martin Truex Jr. of Denver-based Furniture Row Racing celebrates with a burnout Saturday night after winning the 400-mile NASCAR Cup race at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. Truex has three victories this year and 10 in his career.