Saturday, February 24, 2018
Sports

Martin Truex Jr. wins Quaker State 400 at Kentucky

SPARTA, Ky. — Martin Truex Jr. was dominant throughout and had enough left on a final restart to win the NASCAR Cup Quaker State 400 Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway.

Second in points entering the 400-mile event, Truex started second beside Kyle Busch and won the first two stages. He led the final segment by as many as 15 seconds before a final caution created overtime and bunched the field together.

That made no difference as Truex flew past Busch on the restart and went on to his third victory of the season and 10th of his career. He led 152 of 274 laps in the No. 78 Toyota to draw within a point of standings leader Kyle Larson, who finished second in a Chevy.

Truex also took the first two stages and won the race at Las Vegas this season.

"This is completely unbelievable," Truex told NBCSN. "That was a whole lot of fun."

Chase Elliott was third in a Chevy, followed by Denny Hamlin and Busch in Toyotas. Busch led 112 laps, but fell short of his third Kentucky victory.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. led three laps and finished 12th, one spot higher than he started in his final Kentucky start.

KYLE BUSCH TAKES XFINITY: No matter the circumstances, Kyle Busch always seems to figure it out at Kentucky Speedway.

Busch took the lead during a late caution on lap 168 Saturday afternoon and won the 300-mile NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco 300. The race had been postponed a day because of storms.

Busch led three times for 70 laps to earn his second straight series victory at Kentucky and third overall on the 1.5-mile oval. Though less dominant than last July's triumph from the pole in which he led 185 laps, his strong car and pit strategy paid off.

Pitting earlier for tires and fuel helped Busch, who stayed on the track during the final yellow flag. There was no catching his No. 18 Toyota after the restart, though Ryan Blaney tried his best on the final lap after passing Erik Jones' Toyota for second.

"We did what we needed to do to be there at the end," Busch said. "We took four tires and that kind of got us behind there with two pit stops to go, and then some of those guys came in again. Obviously, our car was really fast out front and once I got in clean air I didn't think anybody had anything for us."

Blaney's Ford finished 1.097 seconds behind, a strong recovery after he was penalized for a pit road tire violation during the caution.

Kevin Harvick was fourth in a Ford, with Ty Dillon fifth in a Chevy.

Busch soon blew out the left rear tire that served him well while doing the celebratory burnout.

Jones led twice for a race-high 77 laps and won the first stage.

INDYCAR: Will Power won the pole for today's Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway in Newton. This is his fourth pole of the season. Power was fastest in Saturday's single-car, two-lap runs on the oval. J.R. Hildebrand qualified second, followed by Helio Castroneves, Ed Carpenter and Takuma Sato. Series leader Scott Dixon will start 17th after a disappointing qualifying run.

FORMULA ONE: Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas beat Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel to take the pole for today's Austrian Grand Prix in Spielberg. Lewis Hamilton, second in the championship behind Vettel, qualified third but will start eighth because of a grid penalty. Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen moves from fourth to third. "It should be a good fight (today)" said Bottas.

NHRA: Brittany Force held onto the Top Fuel lead at the NHRA Route 66 Nationals in Joliet, Ill. for her first No. 1 qualifier of the season. Force had a run of 3.711 seconds at 323.04 mph during her second pass Friday to take her seventh career No. 1 qualifier. Robert Hight topped the Funny Car lineup and Greg Anderson was fastest in Pro Stock.

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Published: 02/24/18