Truex dominates at Kentucky to earn third victory of season
Martin Truex Jr. was dominant throughout and had enough left on a final restart to win the NASCAR Cup Series race Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway.
Second in points entering the 400-mile event in Sparta, Truex started second next to Kyle Busch and won the first two stages. Truex led the final segment by 15 seconds before a final caution created overtime and bunched the field together.
That made no difference. Truex flew past Busch on the restart and went on to his third victory of the season and the 10th of his career. He led five times for 152 of 274 laps in the No. 78 Toyota 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 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 led the first 66 laps, but Truex twice found the speed to make timely passes and ultimately took the first two stages.
And 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 Friday.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. led three laps and finished 12th, one spot higher than he started in his final Kentucky race.
INDYCAR: Will Power will start first in Sunday’s race at Iowa Speedway in Newton after winning his fourth pole of the season.
FORMULA ONE: Valtteri Bottas beat Sebastian Vettel to take the pole position for Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix in Spielberg. It is the second pole of the Finnish driver’s career.