KANSAS CITY, Kansas — Martin Truex Jr. finally has a win at Kansas Speedway. And he did it with a master-class series of restarts.
Truex took the lead from Ryan Blaney just before a caution came out for Corey LaJoie. Blaney beat Truex off pit road and Truex’s teammate Erik Jones stayed out on old tires. That meant Truex restarted third, directly behind Blaney with 18 laps to go.
After Jones spun his tires on the restart, Blaney, looking for the first win of his career, blocked Truex all the way to the grass after the start/finish line. But Truex carried his momentum and moved to Blaney’s outside and swept to the lead.
“I thought we were in a pretty good spot, and he made a really good move on that restart and was able to pass us, and then we had a couple more opportunities towards the end of that race, and he got a couple really good restarts and I didn’t, and that was kind of the deciding factor,” Blaney said.
While that ended up being the winning pass, Truex had to hold off Blaney, Kevin Harvick and others on two more restarts after Jones spun off the bumper of Ty Dillon and Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson made contact.
“Eight out of 10 times it happens like you hope it will,” Truex said of the well-executed pass of Blaney. “And you hope the two times it doesn’t go your way that you’re not racing for a win. Tonight we did everything right. When the pressure was on, when the money on the line we made the right moves and everything worked out. You can try that move two or three more times and it might not work out …. I knew if I didn’t come out of those restarts with the lead, I probably wasn’t going to win.”
The race was red-flagged for over 20 minutes on lap 201 after a three-car crash that resulted in Aric Almirola being airlifted to the hospital. Almirola’s car piled into a crash caused by contact between Joey Logano and Danica Patrick and his car hit Logano’s so hard that the rear wheels lifted off the ground.
The win is Truex’s second of the season and his first at Kansas Speedway. He dominated the spring race in 2016 until a late pit stop problem dropped him back in the pack and he finished 14th. Including the 172 laps he led in 2016, Truex had led 518 laps in 18 Kansas starts without getting a win.
The victory also means Truex currently has the most playoff points of anyone in NASCAR right now. With his two wins (5 points each) and five stage wins (1 point each) through the first 11 races, Truex would currently start the playoffs with 15 bonus points.
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