Sunday’s race at Kentucky Speedway was not less than any Hollywood thriller. NASCAR Quaker State 400 race was full of twists and turns. But surpassing all the extreme complications Martin Truex Jr. seized his first Quaker State 400 victory.
Truex proved his was dominance on a final restart and swept the 400-mile race with a win in all three stages. He held a lead of more than 15 seconds over second-place Kyle Larson, with only eight cars remaining on the lead lap. But before Truex could take the white flag signalling the final lap, the engine in Kurt Busch’s Ford expired, dumping oil on the 1.5-mile track. Under the caution, only Truex stayed out, with all other lead-lap cars coming to pit road for fresh tires.
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.
Larson started the race in 40th because his car failed to pass inspection before qualifying. In the first 80-lap stage, he charged forward to the third position but sped on pit road during caution between stages and restarted at the rear of the field on Lap 88.
Again he charged through the field, and when the cars lined up for the final restart in overtime, Larson took advantage of four new tires to grab second place. Even on new rubber, he had nothing for Truex, who led a race-high 152 laps.
Chase Elliott was third, 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.
Truex won the first and second stages and then took the checkered flag after conquering Sunday’s race. The win was Truex’s third of the season, his first at Kentucky and the 10th of his career. Truex increased his series-leading playoff point total to 28, 12 more than that of second-place Jimmie Johnson.