Truex hits for cycle to win in Las Vegas, Kyle Busch in fight
Like hitting for the cycle in baseball, Martin Truex Jr. swept the first two stages and then rallied with just over one lap to go to win Sunday’s Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Truex passed pole-sitter Brad Keselowski just shy of the start-finish line on Lap 266 and then wrapped things up on the final lap to earn his first career triumph at the 1.5-mile track, his first win since Dover last fall and his fifth win in the last 27 NASCAR Cup races. No driver has won more races during that period than Truex.
“It was a gift,” Truex told Fox about Keselowski losing the lead. “We’ve been on the other side of them plenty of times. This is the first one to come our way.”
Truex led 150 of the 267 laps. It was the first win for Toyota in the 2017 season after Ford swept the first two races: the Daytona 500 (Kurt Busch) and Atlanta (Keselowski).
Kyle Larson finished second, followed by Chase Elliott, Joey Logano and Keselowski. Sixth through 10th were Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Jamie McMurray, Matt Kenseth and Clint Bowyer.
There were fireworks on pit road after the race when Kyle Busch threw a punch at Joey Logano after a last-lap incident between the drivers.
Keselowski regained the lead from Truex with 24 laps to go. But Truex was not to be denied, shadowing Keselowski, who appeared to have some type of power or mechanical issues in the last two laps, dropping back in the field.
“It was something pretty major because we lost brakes and the car wouldn’t turn,” Keselowski told Fox.
WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: Several young guns had strong top-10 finishes including Kyle Larson (second), Chase Elliott (third), Joey Logano (fourth) and Ryan Blaney (seventh).
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: It was a rough day for Stewart-Haas Racing. Kevin Harvick, who entered the race as the NASCAR Cup points leader, saw his day end early when the right front tire on his car blew out on Lap 69. Then, Danica Patrick’s (finished 36th) engine expired 16 laps from the finish. Kurt Busch also had problems (30th). The top SHR driver was Clint Bowyer (10th).
NOTABLE: Drivers got the message from NASCAR about speeding on pit road. After 13 penalties at Atlanta last week, there were only three speeding violations in Sunday’s race. … Even though he had to return late to pit road to tighten lug nuts, defending NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson (11th) earned his best finish thus far this season, rallying to end up 11th, after finishing 34th at Daytona and 19th at Atlanta. Still, it marked the first time Johnson has not earned at least one top-10 finish in the first three races of a season in his Cup career.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I got dumped, flat out just drove straight into the corner and he wrecked me. That’s how Joey races, so he’s going to get it.” – Kyle Busch on last-lap contact with Joey Logano.
WHAT’S NEXT: March 19, Camping World 500, at Phoenix Raceway.