Martin Truex Jr. took the field to school Saturday night in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway. Here’s how it all went down.
From his third pole of the season, and his first at Kentucky Speedway, Kyle Busch, who won the rain-delayed Xfinity race earlier in the day from pole, led the field to the green. Martin Truex Jr. was on the front row in second followed by Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, and Denny Hamlin in the top five.
Prior the start, Ryan Newman moved to the rear for an engine change and series points leader Kyle Larson also started in the rear after failing to qualify Friday with inspection issues.
NASCAR called for a competition caution on lap 30.
Busch jumped out to a clear lead by turn 1, Kenseth followed into second. By the end of the lap, Truex was back in second, Jamie McMurray was up to third after a three-wide battle, Hamlin fourth, Kenseth had fallen to fifth. Hamlin and McMurray made contact during the pass, and was none too happy with McMurray. The pack was single file.
Larson was 24th by lap 8.
McMurray was reporting a vibration on lap 12 as Busch’s lead was just over one second and he was starting to lap the back of the field.
Larson was 20th by lap 13.
Ty Dillon pitted on lap 15 with a tire rub, he was also suffering brake issues and slid past his pit stall.
Larson took 19th on lap 28, two laps prior to the competition caution.
Up front Truex had caught Busch in traffic and was looking for the lead. They were side by side for the lead on lap 30 with Busch gaining an edge to start lap 31. The competition caution came out as the leader got on the backstretch.
The leaders all pitted. The leaders took fuel and two tires; Busch was out first followed by Truex, McMurray, Kenseth and Harvick.
Green came back out on lap 36.
Busch retook the lead, as McMurray took second from Truex. Kenseth was fourth, Kevin Harvick fifth. A lap later Kenseth had fallen back Harvick was fourth, Jimmie Johnson fifth, Kenseth sixth.
Larson was up to 12th by lap 38.
Truex took second back on lap 48, as Kenseth moved back to fifth; Larson slid into tenth. A lap later he had ninth.
Truex was soon catching Busch as they were again in traffic.
Larson was up to seventh but lap 58. He passed Johnson for sixth a lap later. He had taken four tires during the last pit stops as most of lead group took only two.
There were 24 cars on the lead lap by lap 63.
Larson took fifth on lap 67 as up front Truex continued to hound Busch.
Truex was able to grab the lead on lap 68.
Truex was soon stretching out his lead.
Larson took fourth on lap 71. He took third on lap 77.
Stage 1 top 10: Truex, Kyle Busch, Larson, Harvick, McMurray, Kenseth, Hamlin, Erik Jones, Johnson and Chase Elliott. It was the 12th stage win of the year for Truex.
Caution 2 came out to end the stage.
The leaders all pitted. This time the leaders all took four tires. Truex was out first, Busch second, followed by Harvick, Larson and Hamlin.
Larson however was penalized for speeding and sent back to the rear of the field. Hamlin as well.
That made the top five; Truex, Busch, Harvick, Kenseth, and McMurray when the green flag came out to start lap 88 and Stage 2.
Busch took the lead on the outside as Truex fell in behind. Entering turn 3 however a multi-car wreck erupted when Brad Keselowski spun on the bottom; he swept up Johnson and Clint Bowyer. All three received heavy damage and caution 3 came out. Both Johnson and Keselowski were done for the night.
Green came out to start lap 93; Busch again took the lead, Truex followed. Harvick took third. This time entering turn 3, Trevor Bayne spun, sweeping up Kasey Kahne; they were running 11th and 12th. Caution 4 came out. Kahne headed straight for the garage as Bayne’s crew tried to make repairs.
Larson was among the few deeper in the field who pitted.
The green came out to start lap 100. Busch took the lead, Truex fell into second; Kenseth, Harvick and Elliott rounded out the top five. Outside the top 10 it was a mad scramble as those who pitted for fuel were fighting their way forward.
Bowyer, who had been in the first accident was running fine and in ninth.
Larson had moved to 12th, Hamlin to 15th by lap 110.
Caution 5 came out on lap 112 when Bayne spun in turn 4 coming to rest at the entrance of pit road. This time he headed straight to the garage.
McMurray and Elliott pitted while the rest of the leaders stayed out.
Green came out for lap 117. Busch again took the lead on the outside line, but Harvick was looking for second on the outside. By the end of the lap, Truex had second, Harvick was third, Kenseth was fourth, Jones fifth.
By lap 120 the lead for Busch was just over a second.
Larson was seventh by lap 122, Hamlin was tenth. Bowyer had rebounded to sixth.
On lap 126 it was a three-wide battle for 10th between, Ryan Blaney, Hamlin and Elliott. When it was sorted out; Hamlin had ninth, McMurray 10th, Elliott 11th.
Truex caught Busch in traffic and retook the lead on lap 134. Larson was sixth.
Caution 6 came out on lap 136 when Joey Gase hit the wall lost a tire and hit the wall entering turn 1.
Those who had pitted on lap 113; McMurray, Elliott and Dale Earnhardt Jr. had an advantage a few in front of them including Hamlin pitted. The rest of the lead group stayed out.
The top five when green came back out on lap 141: Truex, Busch, Harvick, Kenseth and Jones. McMurray restarted eighth, Earnhardt Jr. ninth, Elliott 12th. There were 19 laps to go in Stage 2.
Truex shot to the front, Busch fell into second, Kenseth grabbed third. Larson tried a bold move, but it didn’t work out, he nearly spun and fell back. He settled into 11th.
By lap 152 the lead for Truex was just over a second.
As the stage ended the lead for Truex was just over 2.2 seconds.
Stage 2 Top 10: Truex, Kyle Busch, Kenseth, Harvick, Jones, McMurray, Kurt Busch, Hamlin, Bowyer, and Elliott. Caution 7 came out to end the stage.
The leaders all pitted. Hamlin came out first with two tires, followed by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. also with two as did Daniel Suarez and Paul Menard. Truex was the first out with four tires, he restarted sixth.
Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney stayed out and led when the green came out on lap 167; Logano took the lead, Blaney fell into second. Hamlin was third. By the end of the lap Truex was fourth and looking for third. He took third on lap 170. He took second then the lead on lap 172.
Hamlin was falling back and was fifth behind Suarez by a 173.
Kyle Busch nearly spun but hung on. He lost momentum though and fell back to eighth.
By lap 190 Truex had a lead of just over 6 seconds from Logano.
Larson was back up to fifth by lap 195.
The lead was 11 seconds by lap 206. The top 10: Truex, Logano, Harvick, Larson, Kyle Busch, Elliott, Blaney, Suarez, Jones and Hamlin.
Larson took fourth on lap 207; Logano pitted. Blaney followed. Larson moved to second, followed by Harvick, Busch and Elliott. Deeper in the field green flag stops were underway.
Two laps down after his stop, Blaney passed Truex to get a lap back on lap 216.
Elliott pitted on lap 222, Kyle Busch and Suarez followed.
Larson pitted on lap 225 along with Harvick and leader Truex.
When the stops cycled through on lap 230, Truex was in the lead, Kyle Busch was second, 11 seconds behind. Larson, Logano and Elliott were the top five. There were 12 cars on the lead lap.
Harvick moved into the top five charging into fourth on lap 241.
Truex passed Kenseth who was running 10th on lap 249 to put him a lap down. That left 9 cars on the lead lap. His lead was nearing 14 seconds.
There were 8 cars on the lead lap with 10 laps to go. The lead was 14.5 seconds.
Kurt Busch lost an engine with two laps to go and caution 8 came out erasing the lead for Truex.
Truex stayed out, Larson, Jones, Harvick, Elliott and Kyle Busch pitted. Kyle Busch took only two tires; Harvick was penalized for speeding.
Because of the amount of fluid on the track, the race went into overtime for the first time at Kentucky Speedway.
The top five on the restart: Truex, Kyle Busch, Jones, Larson and Elliott.
Truex restarted on the outside, Busch on the inside. Truex had the lead by turn 2; Larson took second. Truex was able to pull away, but behind them a multi-car crash erupted out of turn 4 just as Truex was getting ready to take the white flag. The caution was soon waving giving Truex his third win of the season.
The crash happened when Bubba Wallace got loose in turn 4 and up into Kenseth; Kenseth spun sweeping up Austin Dillon. Both cars were able to continue.
Larson finished second, Elliott third, Hamlin fourth and Kyle Busch fifth. Jones was sixth, McMurray seconds, Logano eighth, Harvick ninth and Blaney tenth.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series heads to Loudon New Hampshire for the Overton’s 301 next Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Live coverage will be on the NBC Sports Network at 3:00 p.m. ET.
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