Martin Truex Jr. led a race high 104 laps in route to his ninth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career win Saturday night. Here’s how it all went down at Kansas Speedway.
From his first career pole, Ryan Blaney led the field to green on the outside. Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Kyle Busch rounded out the top five.
Blaney shot out to the lead as Logano washed up the track in turn 2 and fell back to eighth. Blaney led the first lap as Logano continued to fall back with a loose condition. Kurt Busch had taken over fifth.
By lap 7, Truex was starting to catch Blaney whose lead had been nearing a second.
Truex was looking for the lead by lap 9. Truex grabbed the lead on the outside exiting turn 2 on lap 10. Behind, Kevin Harvick took fifth.
Logano had fallen to tenth by lap 15. Jimmie Johnson who did not qualify Friday and started 27th had moved to 13th.
Truex had stretched his lead out to nearly 2 seconds by lap 20; Harvick was looking to third. Kyle Larson took fifth behind Harvick.
Kyle Busch in second was cutting into the lead, which was just over a second, by lap 26.
Landon Cassill lost a tire and hit the wall on lap 30 and the first caution waved. The leaders pitted. Truex was out first followed by Blaney, Harvick, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott and Larson. Logano pitted twice as the crew fixed damage on the front of his Ford. He restarted 33rd.
Green came out on lap 35, Truex led from the outside. He was able to take a solo lead by turn 2; Larson behind shot past on the outside and took third. Elliott took fourth and Kurt and Kyle Busch dueled for fifth; Kyle had the spot by lap 43; Kurt was falling back.
Kyle Busch reported his engine temps rising as a piece of plastic was on the grill by lap 45.; the lead for Truex was 1.4 seconds. Busch dropped back and used the car of Harvick to remove the debris. The move gave Harvick fifth.
The second caution came out on lap 50 when Cassill lost another tire and again hit the wall.
Harvick in fifth stayed out as the rest of the leaders pitted. During the stops, Elliott made contact with Michael McDowell as Elliott was exiting. McDowell spun around as Elliott reversed back to his pit for repairs. Truex was out first followed by Blaney, Daniel Suarez who took only two tires, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Larson. Elliott restarted 34th.
Harvick led, Ty Dillon who also stayed out was second when the green came out on lap 55. Harvick shot to the lead as Blaney took second, Kyle Busch third as Truex hovered close behind. Ty Dillon kept falling back and on lap 58 he made contact with Erik Jones exiting turn 2 and spun; caution three came out. Having just pitted, the leaders stayed out.
The restart came on lap 62. Harvick led from the outside lane; Kyle Busch took advantage of Harvick spinning his wheels and took the lead. Truex was close behind. Blaney was third, Harvick fourth, Johnson fifth.
Two laps later there was a four-car battle for fifth. Larson moved to fifth as Larson won the battle for fourth.
With 9 laps to go in the stage, Truex was looking for the lead: Larson was fourth, behind Blaney, Brad Keselowski had moved to fifth.
Busch was able to stretch out his lead as Stage 1 came to a close.
Stage 1 top 10: Kyle Busch, Truex, Blaney, Larson, Keselowski, Johnson, Harvick, Hamlin, Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch.
Caution four came out to end the stage: the leaders all pitted.
Busch was out first followed by Truex, Blaney, Larson and Hamlin. Johnson was penalized for driving through too many pit boxes and sent to the rear of the longest line.
Green came out on lap 88; Truex and Busch were side by side with Truex gaining the lead by the end of the lap. Larson took third, Blaney fourth, Keselowski fifth.
Blaney got loose on lap 91 and Keselowski and Harvick shot by. The lead for Truex was nearing a second.
Erik Jones in ninth spun on lap 96 exiting turn 2; caution five came out. Keselowski was the only car among the leaders to pit.
Green came back out on lap 100; there were 35 cars on the lead lap.
Busch took the lead with a push by Larson behind; Truex took second on the outside as Larson slid up the track. Johnson slowed with a left rear tire down after contact with Kurt Busch exiting turn 4; caution six came out on lap 102 for debris. Larson was among the few who pitted; he restarted 22nd.
Green came back out on lap 106. Busch took a solo lead; Blaney slid into second, Truex third with Harvick close behind Kurt Busch was fifth.
Larson moved to 10th on lap 115.
Keselowski pitted from fifth under green with a possible loose wheel on lap 121. Larson had moved to sixth. He drove through too many pit boxes entering and had to do a drive through; he fell two laps down.
Kurt Busch scrapped the wall with a flat right front tire on lap 134 while running 10th; he dove into the pits, and green stayed out. Harvick pitted under green a lap later.
Caution seven came out on lap 137 when Corey LaJoie hit the wall. Harvick went a lap down as he was just finishing up his stop.
Kyle Busch reported a loose wheel, making the caution a timely one.
The leaders all pitted. Blaney was out first, Hamlin second followed by Kyle Busch, Larson and Truex.
Green came out on lap 144.
Blaney took the lead as Hamlin slowed and fell back; Larson took second, Kyle Busch third. Truex was fourth, Hamlin fell into fifth.
Gray Gaulding hit the wall on lap 146 and caution eight flew. There were 12 laps to go in Stage 2.
The leaders stayed out. Johnson pitted as the crew continued to repair damage, he restarted 27th.
Green came back out on lap 151, nine laps from the end of Stage 2.
Blaney was back to the lead, Larson second, Kyle Busch third, Truex fourth, Jamie McMurray fifth. By the end of the lap Kyle Busch has dropped to fifth.
Ryan Newman in ninth lost an engine on lap 154.
Busch was looking for fourth on lap 156. The lead for Blaney was 1.2 seconds.
Caution nine came out to end Stage 2 on lap 160.
Top 10 Stage 2: Blaney, Larson, Truex, McMurray, Kyle Busch, Hamlin, Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Jones and Logano.
The leaders all pitted. Blaney was out first followed by Larson, Kyle Busch, Truex and Kahne.
Green came out on lap 167. Kurt Busch who stayed out led Blaney to the green. Busch fell back at the start as Larson and Truex shot by. Kyle Busch took fourth from his brother. Kurt Busch was soon sixth as Kahne took fifth.
Truex was able to reel in Blaney and took the lead on lap 180. By lap 186 Truex had a lead of just over 2 seconds.
Paul Menard and AJ Allmendinger got together in turn 3 on lap 194 and caution 10 flew.
The leaders pitted. Blaney was out first, Truex second followed by Kyle Busch, Larson, and Hamlin.
The restart came on lap 197; there were 27 cars on the lead lap. Blaney and Truex were side by side with Truex taking the lead on the low side. Behind them a huge crash erupted on lap 200 involving Logano, and Danica Patrick entering turn 1. Logano got loose when a right front brake appeared to let go and he slid down into Patrick; both cars hit the wall hard; Aric Almirola hit the cars hard. All slid to a stop in a fiery hulk. All the drivers were okay, but NASCAR immediately threw the red flag. Almirola took his time getting out of the car and soon rescue crews were working on getting him out.
Rescue crews took their time getting Almirola out of the car; he was conscious, alert and talking to the crews. The crews took the roof off the car to remove Almirola. He was eventually lifted out on a backboard and taken away in an ambulance from the scene. He was later airlifted to the University of Kansas Medical center for observation.
The red flag was lifted after 27 minutes, 42 seconds.
Green came back out on lap 204; Blaney took the lead, Larson slid up into the wall exiting turn 2, but continued. Truex was second, Kyle Busch third, with Harvick fourth and Larson hanging tough in fifth.
Harvick took third on lap 212. Up front Truex was slowly catching Blaney. Johnson who had dropped to the back of the field twice was ninth.
Jones spun on lap 216, made no contact, but caution 12 was displayed.
The leaders all pitted. Blaney was out first, Harvick second followed by Kyle Busch, Hamlin and Truex.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. who had struggled all race long, stayed out to lead when the green came out on lap 220. Trevor Bayne, Chris Buescher, and Michael McDowell also stayed out.
Bayne and Kyle Busch were soon side by side fighting for the lead. Blaney was able to get to the front and into the lead. Truex was third, followed by Harvick and Bayne. Hamlin took fifth two laps later.
Truex took second on lap 229 as Busch began to slow; Harvick got by a few seconds later and Busch was fourth.
Truex was soon catching Blaney.
By lap 237, Truex had caught Blaney.
Truex took the lead on lap 242; just as Corey LaJoie hit the wall hard just in front of them; caution 13 flew.
The leaders all pitted. Blaney won the race off pit road followed by Truex, Hamlin, Harvick and Kyle Busch.
Erik Jones stayed out and was the leader. This put Blaney on the bottom on the restart which came with 19 laps to go.
Blaney was able to move ahead, but Truex shot to the outside, then three wide and shot the gap to the lead. Harvick took third, Kurt Busch was fourth, Hamlin fifth.
Johnson took fifth with 14 laps to go.
With 10 to go the lead was 1.5 seconds. Behind them Jones was spun again, this time exiting turn 4 after contact with Ty Dillon. Caution 14 was displayed. None of the leaders pitted.
The restart came with five laps to go. Johnson spun after getting together with Hamlin and Kurt Busch entering turn 1, but Johnson made no contact and was able to continue; caution 15 came out. Hamlin pitted as did Johnson.
The restart came with 2 laps to go. Truex took the lead with a push by Harvick’ Blaney fought back on the outside and took second.
On the final lap, Keselowski shot by for second, as Harvick followed. No one had anything for Truex has he went onto his 9th career win and his second of the 2017 season. Keselowski was second, Harvick third with Blaney and Kyle Busch rounding out the top five.
Larson was sixth, Daniel Suarez seventh, with McMurray, Bowyer and Bayne rounding out the top 10.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads home to Charlotte for next Saturday night’s Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race.
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