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Truex dominates Kentucky race

Martin Truex Jr. leads early and often in dominant NASCAR win at Kentucky Speedway

By GARY B. GRAVES Associated Press Published: July 9, 2017 4:00 AM
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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 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 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.

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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.

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

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, 419; 16. R.Stenhouse, 418.


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