Sunday, February 25, 2018
Sports

Martin Truex captures second Chase race in three weeks

DOVER, Del. — It was a Martin Truex blowout, a Jamie McMurray blowup and a Jimmie Johnson "We blew it again."

Truex cruised to a decisive victory in Sunday's Citizen Soldier 400 at Dover International Speedway, a race that pared the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase for the Championship field from 16 drivers to 12.

Winning for a fourth time this season, a second time at Dover and the seventh time in his career, Truex was without peer after a pit road mistake on Lap 279 of 400 knocked Johnson off the lead lap and out of contention.

Racing at the track closest to his Mayetta, N.J., home, Truex beat runner­up Kyle Busch by 7.527 seconds at the track where, in 2007, he earned his first Sprint Cup victory and second in the first three Chase races. Truex led 181 of 400 laps in his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota.

"We're not messing around, I guess," Truex said. "I don't know—what else can you say? … It's just amazing to drive their race cars and do what we were able to do. I'm just ecstatic. I mean, this is just unbelievable. Especially here — I love this racetrack. It's been considered a home track for me for a long time."

Chase drivers dominated the top nine in the finishing order, with Chase Elliott, Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Johnson, Austin Dillon and Denny Hamlin running third through ninth, respectively.

All nine drivers reached the Chase's second stage along with Carl Edwards (14th on Sunday), Kurt Busch (15th) and Kevin Harvick, who blew a tire on Lap 34 and finished 37th, a lap down.

But Harvick's calamity wasn't costly, because his victory at New Hampshire last weekend provided a guaranteed spot in the Round of 12.

McMurray and Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Kyle Larson had no such insurance policy, and both were bounced from the Chase. Larson suffered ignition problems early and later scraped the Turn 3 wall on Lap 182 to cause the third of four cautions. McMurray retired in 40th place with a mechanical failure and joined Chris Buescher, who was never a factor in the first round, on the Chase sidelines.

Tony Stewart finished 13th and was eliminated from the Chase in his final season. The three-time series champion is retiring after this season.

Johnson had problems on his Lap 279 pit stop, but issues with fueling weren't what cost him a chance to win. Johnson's jack man stepped over the pit wall too early and the resulting penalty cost the six-time champion a lap he never recovered.

Xfinity: Daniel Suarez cruised into the second round of the Chase in NASCAR's second-tier series with a win at Dover, the first leg of a doubleheader with the Sprint Cup race. Suarez led 123 of 200 laps in the Drive Sober 200 and joined Elliott Sadler in the second round of the Chase.

Formula One: Daniel Ricciardo led a one-two finish for the Red Bull team at the Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang and third-place Nico Rosberg extended his championship lead after Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton suffered an engine failure while leading. Rosberg was hit from behind and spun on Lap 1, wound up in the back of the field and rallied. Hamilton fell 23 points behind Rosberg.

NHRA: Tommy Johnson Jr. won Funny Car by knocking off teammate and points leader Ron Capps in the final at the Dodge Nationals in Reading, Pa. Antron Brown won in Top Fuel, Vincent Nobile in Pro Stock and Eddie Krawiec in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

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