Martin Truex Jr. Capitalizes On Late-Race Restart To Win In Kansas

by May 14, 2017

KANSAS CITY, Kan.– Martin Truex, Jr. dominated on a final restart with two laps remaining to take home his second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory of the 2017 season in Saturday night’s Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway.

Truex Jr. in the Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota, was able to take the lead away from Ryan Blaney on lap 249. He’d go on to lead the remaining laps of the race, but he had to survive two more restarts. On the final restart of the night with just two laps to go, Truex Jr. soared to the front of the pack, capitalizing on the victory. The 36-year-old led 104 of the 267 laps on his way to Victory Lane. Furniture Row Racing is based out of Colorado, so Saturday night’s race served as a home event for the team.

“It feels amazing to be here,” said Truex Jr. “It’s been a long time coming to this racetrack for sure. We talked, I guess, on Friday about it. The close calls, the laps led, the heartbreaks that we’ve been through here. Definitely proud tonight to finally cross that checkered flag first and bring it home for the guys.”

Brad Keselowski in the Team Penske No. 2 Elite Support Ford slipped into the second position after the final restart to post his ninth top-10 finish of the season.

“Well, so much happened, I’m not sure I even know,” Keselowski said. “But we were really good all day and just never had a chance to show it. Every time we started to pass cars and cycle up to the front, we had some kind of issue, which was a real bummer to not be able to showcase the strength that we had. Towards the end we were able to get some runs and make the most of it, and I think we went from probably 20th with 100 to go to second, which was a pretty big climb in the sport. That’s something to be proud of, but I kind of feel like I would have liked to have seen if it would have just played out normal, and I think we might have had a shot at him.”

Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 Busch Light Ford Fusion started eighth and showed significant speed throughout the event, but he ultimately had to settle for a third-place finish on Saturday night.

Finishing in the fourth position was Ryan Blaney, driver of the Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford. Blaney, the pole-sitter of the event, led 83 laps in the race, the second most of any car. Blaney’s top pit selection from winning the Coors Light Pole allowed the team to choose the stall at pit exit. On multiple occasions, Blaney was able to get by the field and restart from the first position due to his prime pit stall and blazing fast pit crew. In the end, he did not have enough speed to keep up with Truex Jr., whom he battled with all night long, before falling back to a fourth-place finish.

Blaney said, “Yeah, I thought we made a lot of changes throughout the race, and we were really loose most of the race, and getting worse and worse as the run went on, and 78 and a couple cars seemed to be better than us later in runs, but I felt like we were the best car from maybe 15, 20 laps, especially if we were out front, and we got that caution at the end and beat the 78 off pit road, and 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.”

Kyle Busch finished out the top-five on Saturday night. Busch led 59 laps in his Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 M&M’s Red Nose Toyota, but while he showed speed periodically, he was unable to battle for the win in the closing laps.

During the Go Bowling 400, there were 15 cautions, but none were as significant as the one that came out on lap 201 that resulted in Richard Petty Motorsports’ Aric Almirola being airlifted to the hospital.

The 11th caution of the night was thrown as Joey Logano’s No. 22 AAA Insurance Ford suffered a sudden mechanical failure, sending him hard into the No. 10 Wonder Woman/One Cure Ford of Danica Patrick. The two collided with violent impact. When Aric Almirola came sliding into the mix, unable to stop his No. 43 Smithfield Ford, the fiery collision destroyed all three cars. Logano and Patrick were able to walk away from the accident. Almirola’s car had to be cut away for him to be removed from the vehicle. He was alert, and following the race, Richard Petty Motorsports issued the following statement:

“Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford, was involved in a multi-car accident on Lap 199 during Saturday night’s race.

“Almirola was alert after the accident as safety professionals removed him from the car. He was transported by helicopter to a local medical facility for evaluation. He is in stable condition and will be held overnight for further observation.

“Richard Petty Motorsports will provide further updates when appropriate.”

Kyle Larson still leads the points standings in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. He now leads by 44 points over Martin Truex Jr.

After a weekend of racing under the lights in Kansas, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series takes a different turn as next weekend’s thrilling Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race takes place at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The non-points event features race winners from the 2016 and 2017 Cup Series seasons.

The Monster Energy Open, a final chance race to get into the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race, takes place on Saturday, May 20 at 6 p.m. ET. The Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race follows soon after at 8 p.m. ET. Both races will be featured on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) and the Performance Racing Network (PRN).

Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

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