Martin Truex Jr. won his seventh race of the season Sunday winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Hollywood 400 at Kansas Speedway. It wasn’t an easy task for Truex in a day filled with drama. Here’s how it all went down Sunday.
From his third pole of the season and his second at Kansas, Truex Jr., who won here in the spring, led the field to the green on the inside; Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin and Daniel Suarez rounded out the top five.
Ryan Blaney had originally qualified third on Friday but failed post qualifying inspection and was forced to start at the rear of the field.
Truex rocketed to the lead on the start as the field bunched up behind. Harvick and Kenseth were fighting for second. Harvick had the spot by the end of the lap; Kyle Busch was looking for third from Kenseth. Busch had third by the start of lap 3. Hamlin was fifth behind Kenseth.
Blaney was up to 28th by lap 5. He was 20th by lap 15.
Kurt Busch made an unscheduled pit stop for two right side tires after a brush with the wall and feel a lap down on lap 18. The lead was 2.5 seconds for Truex.
Kyle Busch had caught Harvick by lap 23; he took second on lap 24. The lead for Truex was 4 seconds by lap 29.
Because of heavy overnight rains, NASCAR had called for a competition caution at lap 30 and that was the first caution of the day.
The leaders all pitted. Truex was out first followed by Kyle Busch, Harvick, Kenseth and Hamlin.
Green came out to start lap 36; Truex again shot to the lead as Kyle Busch with a great run took second; NASCAR however penalized Truex for a restart violation and was forced in for pass through on lap 40.
Kyle Busch inherited the lead with Harvick close behind. Truex rejoined the field on the lead lap 31st.
Brett Moffitt got into the wall and the second caution came out on lap 47.
Many among the leaders pitted. Kyle Busch was out first followed by Harvick, Kasey Kahne who took only two tires, Kenseth and Hamlin.
Among those not pitting, Brad Keselowski, Blaney, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ryan Newman, Chris Buescher, and Truex. Kyle Busch lined up seventh.
Green came out to start lap 51; Keselowski chose the outside lane and spun his tires; Blaney took the lead; Keselowski took second. It was four wide behind. When the top five sorted out, Kyle Busch had second, Newman, and Harvick.
Kyle Busch was looking for the lead by lap 54 and took the top spot exiting turn 2; Blaney lost momentum and fell back to third; Harvick grabbed second. Keselowski was fourth, Hamlin fifth.
Hamlin took fourth on lap 58, Kyle Larson followed. Larson continued past and had third from Blaney on lap 59. Truex had fallen outside the top 10. Hamlin took fourth on lap 60.
Larson slowed on lap 64. He pitted on lap 65. He reported possible engine issues. Jimmie Johnson took fifth on lap 67. Larson returned to the track on lap 71 with a sour engine told to “Run it as long as you can.” The crew reported a possible ECU issue.
Larson’s engine blew on lap 77 and caution three came out. There were three laps left in the first stage. Suddenly he was facing elimination from the Playoffs.
The stage ended under caution at lap 80, top 10: Kyle Busch, Harvick, Hamlin, Jamie McMurray, Johnson, Chase Elliott, Truex, Kenseth and Erik Jones.
The leaders pitted. Kyle Busch was out first followed by Harvick, Blaney, Kenseth and Hamlin.
Green came out to start Stage 2 and lap 87; Kyle Busch took the lead, Harvick followed; Blaney was third, Kenseth fourth; Elliott and Johnson were dueling for fifth. McMurray was soon in the midst; Johnson has fifth by lap 90, McMurray was looking for the spot.
Truex slowed on alp 91 reporting a loose wheel; he pitted.
The lead for Busch was 1.5 seconds by lap 105; Johnson had dropped to seventh after getting past by McMurray and Elliott.
Green flag stops began on lap 125 deeper in the field.
Johnson and Kenseth pitted on lap 128; Harvick followed. Blaney pitted on lap 129; Hamlin followed as did Kyle Busch.
Keselowski stayed out to keep the lead as the stops cycled through. Kyle Busch was second 16 seconds behind.
Harvick reported a possible loose wheel on lap 141.
Keselowski pitted on lap 145 handing the lead back to Kyle Busch.
With 10 to go, the top five; Kyle Busch, Harvick, Blaney, Kenseth, and McMurray.
The fourth caution of the day came on lap when Moffitt hit the wall again with five to go in the stage. Pit road opened on lap 156, a quickie yellow.
The leaders pitted; Johnson stayed out as did others deeper in the field.
The green came out on lap 159, one lap to go in the stage; the top five: Hamlin, Johnson, Keselowski, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Kyle Busch.
Hamlin too the lead; Harvick and Kenseth charged though the field with fresher tires; the top 10; Hamlin, Harvick, Keselowski, Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Jones, Blaney, Elliott and Johnson. Caution five came out to end the stage.
The leaders pitted. Hamlin was out first followed by Keselowski, Johnson, Clint Bowyer, Ty Dillon and Aric Almirola. Others in the field stayed out.
Hamlin and Keselowski were penalized for speeding; the top five on the restart; Harvick, Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Jones and McMurray. Green came out to start lap 167.
Harvick took the lead Kenseth took second, Kyle Buch third, Jones and Blaney rounded out the top five.
Stenhouse Jr. hit the wall on lap 175 in turn 2 after losing a tire; caution six came out.
Some stayed out, but Jones in fourth led a group to pit road.
Harvick stayed out as did Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Blaney and Bowyer.
Green came out to start lap 180; Harvick took the lead, it was four wide behind. When I sorted out, Kenseth was second, Kyle Busch third, with Blaney and Jones behind.
Truex took sixth on lap 182.
Johnson in tenth spun exiting turn 4 on lap 188 and caution seven came out. He slid through the grass but was able to continue.
Several pitted; Kenseth pitted as did Johnson, Blaney, Truex, Hamlin and Keselowski.
Harvick led when green came out on lap 194; Kyle Busch took second, Jones third. Behind Johnson spun again this time entering turn 3 and caution eight came out.
NASCAR ruled that Johnson had yet to complete a lap so had not made minimum speed and was still on the crash clock. He pitted again. The team changed tires and had less than three minutes to work on the car.
Green came out to start lap 198. Kyle Busch this time took the lead; Jones spun setting off a big crash behind on the backstretch; Kenseth, McMurray, Bowyer, Daniel Suarez, Almirola and Kahne were among those involved.
Jones spun exiting turn 2; he slid up the track sweeping up many and nearly flipping. NASCAR put out the red flag.
Kenseth was penalized for having too many men over the wall. The meant his day was done.
The red flag was lifted after 10 minutes, 10 seconds, just after Kenseth parked his car in the garage.
Green came out to start lap 205; the top five Busch, Harvick, Elliott, Truex and Blaney.
Busch had the lead by turn 1; Truex charged from the outside to take second; Elliott and Harvick dueled for third. Harvick had the spot by the end of the lap.
Truex was looking for the lead on lap 208. Truex took the lead on lap 211. Soon Truex was soon stretching out his lead.
Elliott took third on lap 212. Blaney took fourth from Harvick on lap 214.
Harvick pitted under green on lap 222 after falling back. Truex had a lead of 3.8 seconds.
Kurt Busch moved into fifth on lap 225.
Several in the top five needed to save fuel.
Kyle Busch pitted on lap 232.
AJ Allmendinger spun on lap 236, caution 10 came out erasing fuel worries for all.
When the pits opened, the leaders pitted. Truex was out first followed by Kurt Busch Hamlin, Blaney and Keselowski. Keselowski was penalized for speeding. Kyle Busch restarted 22nd.
Green came out to start lap 242.
Truex took the lead, Kurt Busch spun his tires but held on for second, Hamlin grabbed third, Blaney fourth Elliott fifth.
Blaney took third on lap 245.
With 10 laps to go the lead for Truex was just over a second.
With one to go he lead was 1.3 seconds. There was no drama in the in the final laps and Truex scored yet another 1.5-mile win, his sixth win on a 1.5 track in 2017.
Kurt Busch came home second followed by Blaney, Elliott and Hamlin in the top five.
Chris Buescher was sixth with Earnhardt, Harvick, Almirola and Kyle Busch recovering to finish 10th.
Eliminated from Playoff contention: Kyle Larson, Matt Kenseth, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Jamie McMurray.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Martinsville next week for the First Data 500. Live coverage will be on the NBC Sports Network at 3:00 p.m. ET.
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