KANSAS CITY, KS - A year ago, Martin Truex Jr. led 172 laps during the Go Bowling 400 but still couldn’t get to Victory Lane. This year, the No. 78 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota driver got the job done. A master of the mile-and-a-half racetracks, Truex Jr. led a total of 104 laps to get his second victory of the season after winning at Las Vegas back in March.
Winning at Kansas has been a long time coming for the New Jersey racer. “It feels great,” Truex Jr. said of the win. “It’s definitely been a thorn in our side. Years and years even before I was with this team (Furniture Row Racing), for whatever reason we always ran good here but could never close the deal.”
Towards the end of the race, Truex Jr. knew not to count his chickens before they hatched. “These races are so hard to win,” he said. “Any of those restarts I could’ve got beat on, something could have happened. You just never know. I felt like if I could get out front on those restarts, I’d be fine. There’s no guarantee that you can make it happen, but we did, so it was pretty awesome tonight.”
Brad Keselowski did not lead a lap but the driver of the No. 2 Elite Support Ford made a big move at the end to finish second. “We caught a couple breaks there on those restarts and made the most of them,” Keselowski said. “We worked our way through it. It stinks we finished second and still lost points because we didn’t get those stage points.”
Kevin Harvick ended the night with a third-place finish and led 10 laps. “It was a solid night,” the No. 4 Busch Light Ford driver said. “We were able to come through the field and do what we needed to do. We came back through the field. It just didn’t line up for us at the end.”
After getting his first career pole in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Ryan Blaney came close to getting his first career win. The driver of the No. 21 led 83 laps and won the second stage but when the checkered flag dropped, he had to settle for fourth.
“We weren’t very good on the long run,” Blaney explained. “I felt that we had a great short run car tonight and I thought that was going to play right into our hands at the end. I was super loose there on the late restarts and the (No.) 78 got me spinning my tires a little bit.”
Kyle Busch started the night winning the first stage but when all was said and done, the driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Red Nose Toyota driver settled for a top-five finish. “It just seemed like the other guys got better than us,” he said. “We tried to adjust on our car and it never made it better. We won the first segment and then the second segment, I thought we had a shot to win that one as well. Once it got dark out, we just kind of lost it.”
With 11 MENCS races now complete, Kyle Larson hangs on to the points standings lead with 475 points. The driver of the NO. 42 Target Chevrolet finished sixth in tonight’s race.
“The early parts of the race, I thought we were okay,” Larson said. “I thought we were like a fourth or fifth place car and I got into the wall on one of those later restarts after that big wreck. I’m sure some aerodynamic issues there but still recovered for a decent finish.”
There was a total of 15 cautions as well as one red flag that lasted 27 minutes and 41 seconds. The race took three hours, 24 minutes and 16 seconds to run.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will resume action next week at the All Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
1. Martin Truex Jr.
2. Brad Keselowski
3. Kevin Harvick
4. Ryan Blaney
5. Kyle Busch
6. Kyle Larson
7. Daniel Suarez
8. Jamie McMurray
9. Clint Bowyer
10. Trevor Bayne