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NASCAR Cup: Martin Truex Jr. kicks off playoffs with Vegas win

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – SEPTEMBER 15: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on September 15, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

Martin Truex Jr. kicked off the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs with a win Sunday in the South Point Casino 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The win was a series-leading fifth win for Truex through the first 27 races of the season, breaking a three-way tie he shared with Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin.

“It was a lot of fun tonight, and anytime you get a car like that, you have fun,” Truex said. “But we did have our challenges. It wasn’t easy for sure; we had to go to the back that one time for a pit road deal and work our way back to the front, and then, our car got off, and we lost some spots on that one run, and luckily, we got a caution and was able to come in and fix it. We just had to do all the little things right. We went back and forth, loose-tight, loose-tight, and we just hit it right on that last run. I think the 4 (Kevin Harvick) missed it a little. It was so easy to do tonight. You’d be good one run and sideways the next, and you couldn’t go anywhere. Then, you’d be good; it was just back and forth. We hit it right when we needed. The 4 was really strong, but we took a gamble to have extra downforce and qualify 24th and it paid off tonight.”

Kevin Harvick finished second, Brad Keselowski was third, Chase Elliott fourth, and Ryan Blaney rounded out the top-five.

“It was good,” Harvick said. “We had two solid stages, and with the way that practice went for us, that was a miracle. To be in contention with a chance to win the race with 25 laps to go says a lot about the guys working on this 4 car, and everybody did a great job of making something out of what wasn’t very bright for us on Friday.”  

Truex took his race-winning lead by passing Harvick with 20 laps remaining. Truex, who started the race outside the top-20 and suffered a slow pit stop during the caution after the first 80-lap stage, took his first lead of the race when he passed Joey Logano on lap 158 and won the second stage at lap 160.

Truex lost his initial lead to Elliott on lap 172. Denny Hamlin also led laps after a two-tire pit stop during a lap-181 caution before Harvick took the lead on lap 187. Harvick gave up the lead with 37 laps remaining during a cycle of green-flag cycle of pit stops. The cycle completed as Truex and Harvick battled for the lead.

Harvick and his three Stewart-Haas Racing teammates occupied the top-four positions at the start of the race, with Clint Bowyer and Daniel Suarez on the front row and Harvick and Almirola in the second. Three of them — Harvick, Suarez and Almirola — remained inside the top-five throughout the opening stage, while Bowyer fell back and struggled throughout the race.

“We just weren’t very good tonight,” Bowyer said. “We were just off, off in all areas.”

Bowyer went a lap down on lap 152. He, then, made an unscheduled pit stop after contact with Paul Menard on lap 198.

After starting the race in the 22nd position, Logano joined the SHR trio of Harvick, Suarez and Almirola near the front, and after Suarez led 29 of the first 33 laps, Logano took the lead on lap 34. From there, Logano dominated the until late in the second stage.

Logano wound up ninth after suffering damage when Kurt Busch hit the wall on lap 188.

Other top-10 finishers included Alex Bowman in sixth, William Byron in seventh, Kyle Larson eighth and Ryan Newman in 10th.

Six playoff drivers finished outside the top-10. Almirola finished 13th and Hamlin 15th. Kyle Busch wound up 19th after being two laps down for a significant portion of the race after an early-race, unscheduled pit stop after contact with the wall. Bowyer was 25th. Erik Jones finished 36th after spending several laps in the garage because of a transmission problem. Kurt Busch’s wreck resulted in a last-place finish (39th).

Below, is the complete finishing order of the South Point Casino 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway: COMING SOON

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Posted by on September 16, 2019. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,Monster Energy NASCAR Cup,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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