Truex Jr. Caps off Dominant Performance to Secure Third Victory of Season

Photo Credit: Sarah Crabill/Getty Images

Martin Truex Jr. was able to escape a late race overtime restart with the lead to secure his third victory of the season. Kyle Larson finished second, Chase Elliott finished third, Denny Hamlin, and Kyle Busch rounded out the top-5.

Busch, who was looking to make history by being the first driver to win both XFINITY and Cup races in one day, led the field to green after securing the pole in an abbreviated qualifying session on Saturday. He led the opening laps of the race before Truex Jr. took the lead at Lap 28. Truex and Busch would battle for the lead as the laps wound down closer and closer to the competition caution slated for Lap 32. The competition caution would come out with Busch in the lead.

For the first time of the evening, the field would come down pit road with most drivers opting to take two tires and a splash of fuel. Busch would exit pit road first with Truex Jr. not far behind. The green flag came back out at lap 35 with Busch leading. Jamie McMurray would pass Truex Jr. for second during the restart but wouldn’t make it any higher than second the remainder of the race, he’d finish seventh.

With less than 15 laps remaining in the stage, Truex would pass Busch and never look back earning another stage victory to his stats book. Ky. Busch would finish second with Larson, Kevin Harvick, McMurray, Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Erik Jones, Jimmie Johnson, and Chase Elliott all earning stage points. At the conclusion of the stage many drivers took their first four tire pit stop of the evening with Truex Jr. and Busch staying first and second.

Truex Jr. and Busch would lead the field to green to start Stage 2, but as the field came into turns three and four, Brad Keselowski and Clint Bowyer both got sideways backing Keselowski into the wall where he would collect Johnson. Bowyer would continue as Keselowski and Johnson would take their cars to the garage with Keselowski finishing 39th and Johnson finishing last for only the second time of his career. Keselowski went on to later blast the cars saying they are “undriveable.”

Busch and Truex Jr. would again lead the field to green with 69 laps remaining in the stage. As the field entered turns one and two on Lap 95, Kasey Kahne and Trevor Bayne would make contact sending both cars into the outside wall ending Kahne’s night early. A few laps later, Bayne would spin bringing out the caution. The No. 6 would head behind the wall ending his night. A few drivers took to pit road with the exception of the stars of the show at Kentucky. Truex would stay within a second of Busch and would make the pass on him with less than 30 laps to go in Stage 2 where he would ultimately hold on to earn yet another playoff point.

For the first time of the night, Truex Jr. and Busch would have to make their way around other cars for position. Both took four tires during a pit stop as Hamlin, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Paul Menard all took two putting them ahead of the two dominant performers. On the restart, Busch decided to test the outside line but wouldn’t make much progress, moving only to seventh. Using fresher tires, Truex Jr. worked his way ahead of several cars and passing Logano for the lead.

What many thought to be the final stops of the evening began, Truex started to pace the field until he came down pit road with 42 laps remaining. Dale Earnhardt Jr. would take the lead from Truex Jr. but still needed to make his final stop of the night. With less than 40 laps remaining, Earnhardt Jr. would bring his No. 88 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Chevrolet SS down pit road surrendering the lead to Truex Jr. who began to set sail toward the victory.

The caution came out with less than 3 laps remaining in the race as Kurt Busch lost an engine. Truex had a large margin lead over Larson, who finished second, when that caution was displayed that sent the race into overtime. Truex stayed out as drivers like Larson, Busch and the remaining cars on the lead lap came down pit road. Truex thought he was “done” with older tires but had a car fast enough to shoot through to the lead and secure his 10th victory of his career.

About Christian Koelle 229 Articles
An Ooltewah, TN native, Christian has been writing since July of 2015. In 2017, Christian transitioned from his own blog to a few different websites, joining OnPitRoad in February. In 2005 Christian attended his first race as a fan at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. He’s been around racing his entire life and enjoys being at the track more than anything. He made his media debut at Bristol in 2015. His favorite tracks are Iowa Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway and Phoenix. He enjoys talking about racing with just about anyone and makes occasional appearances on numerous radio shows across the country. In his time attending races he’s attended almost ninety races among the six racing series. Along with NASCAR, He loves Minor and Major League Baseball. He’s a Minnesota Twins and Chattanooga Lookouts. He also enjoys watching Iowa State Cyclones college football.

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