Martin Truex Jr. got the much awaited win of his career at Kansas Speedway on Saturday night.
Truex streaked away on the final restart with two laps left in Go Bowling 400 to win his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway.
It was a wild night for sure, there were a series of collisions over the final 25 laps, involving Almirola, Danica Patrick and Joey Logano. However, facing all the odds, Truex marked his first win at Kansas.
The win was redemption for Truex, who dominated this race a year ago before a fluky parts failure during a late pit stop cost him the potential victory. He led a race-high 104 of 267 laps to take his second win of the 2017 Monster Energy Cup Series season. Three times in the past, Truex had led the most laps in a Kansas race — without winning.
But on this Saturday, Truex had the speed and the closing power. On successive restarts at the end of the race, which produced an event-record-tying 15 cautions, Truex jumped in front of polesitter Ryan Blaney and stayed at the head of the pack.
Brad Keselowski finished second, followed by Kevin Harvick, Blaney and Kyle Busch. Series leader Kyle Larson came home sixth.
“It feels great,” Truex said. “It’s definitely been a thorn in our side. That’s for sure. You know for years and years even, before I was with this (Furniture Row) team, for whatever reason we always ran good here and never could close the deal.
“Proud to get these guys back in Victory Lane. This is our home race track — the guys from Colorado. Appreciate all the fans. We got a lot of fans from Colorado here today. I met a bunch of them before the race and hopefully they’re all psyched.”
There were a series of wrecks over the final 25 laps, even after the earlier horrific one involving Almirola, Danica Patrick and Joey Logano.
Patrick’s car erupted in flames, and she and Logano rode the outside wall until, a moment later, Aric Almirola’s No. 43 Ford barreled into the wreck.
NASCAR stopped the race while safety workers cut the roof off Almirola’s Fusion and extricated him from the car. They placed Almirola on a backboard and rolled him to a waiting ambulance on a gurney. Almirola was airlifted to the University of Kansas Medical Center for observation.
Logano was unhurt but visibly shaken when he exited the infield care center.
After the accident, the race was red-flagged for 27 minutes, 41 seconds for track cleanup, and Truex and Blaney subsequently traded the lead. Blaney liked his chances after beating Truex off pit road under the 13th caution on Lap 245.
But Truex got a huge launch to the outside of the polesitter and quickly pulled ahead.
“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,” said Blaney, who led 83 laps. “The 78 (Truex) got us on that restart somehow. I don’t know.
“I was super loose there on the last restarts, and the 78 got me spinning my tires a little bit. It kind of stinks. I think that it says a lot about this team to go out and lead some laps and go have a shot at winning races.”
Note: Larson left Kansas with a 44-point edge over Truex in the series standings, with Keselowski 67 points back in third.