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Truex Gets First Win Of ’18 And An Easy One It Was

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, March 18 2018

Martin Truex Jr. collected his first victory of the season on Sunday when he won in Fontana. (RacinToday/HHP file photo byDavid Tulis)

RacinToday.com

Martin Truex Jr. dominated the field to win Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway oval in Fontana, Calif.

The Furniture Row Racing driver led 125 of 200 laps.

“I knew we had a really good car after the first adjustment of the day and the thing just came alive,” he said. “From there, it was just managing my tires and being smart.”

For the defending series champion, the win was his first of the season and comes in fifth event. The margin of victory was 11.6 seconds. He won all three stages.

“People kept asking, ‘When are you going to win again, you haven’t won any stages.’ Well, here you go,” he said.

About the only problems Truex had all day, were slow pit stops.

“Those things happen,” he said. There’s nothing you can do about it but dig deep and find a way.”

Kyle Larson came on late to finish second.

Kyle Busch, who led 62 laps and appeared to have a shot at the win but who had a crew member make a mistake while making a wedge adjustment during his final pit stop, finished third.

Brad Keselowski and Team Penske teammate Joey Logano finished fourth and fifth respectively.

Kevin Harvick’s bid to win a historic fourth-straight race ended with a mistake on his part. In happened in on Lap 22 of the first stage when he was racing side by side with Kyle Larson for third place. Harvick dove down on Larson’s Chip Ganassi Racing Chevy, the cars touched and they wrecked.

Havick, suffering major damage to his car after bouncing off the wall, pitted a couple of times to fix the damage and fell two laps down. He would finish ?? laps down and 35th among the 37 starters

“I don’t think it’s his fault,” Harvick said. “It’s my fault for coming down the race track and trying to side draft. Trying to get a little too much right there.”

Larson, however, recovered and drove to his podium finish.

“We were racing really hard and I was better than him in (turns) 3 and 4 and he was better than me in 1 and 2 and I’d side draft him down the front stretch, he’d side draft me down the back stretch. I don’t know if came down to side draft me or what but we made contact and it spun his car into the wall.”

Truex won the first two stages of the race and led 90 of the first 121 laps – often by large margins. During yellow-flag stops on Lap 122 of the 200-lap event, he fell behind Busch.

Busch led until he was passed by Truex with 39 laps to go. A lap later, both pulled into the pits for their final green-flag stops. Busch beat Truex back out onto the track and when the pitting cycled through with 36 laps to go, he had the lead and the clean air that means so much in Fontana.

What Truex had, however, was a faster race car and with 32 laps to go, Busch wobbled, Truex shot past and into the lead.

From there, he wave good-bye to the field.

(This story will be updated shortly)

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race – Auto Club 400

Auto Club Speedway

Fontana, California

Sunday, March 18, 2018

  1. (1) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 200.
  2. (3) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 200.
  3. (2) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 200.
  4. (11) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 200.
  5. (6) Joey Logano, Ford, 200.
  6. (25) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 200.
  7. (4) Erik Jones, Toyota, 200.
  8. (8) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 200.
  9. (33) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 200.
  10. (5) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 200.
  11. (26) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 199.
  12. (27) Aric Almirola, Ford, 199.
  13. (28) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 199.
  14. (7) Kurt Busch, Ford, 199.
  15. (29) William Byron #, Chevrolet, 199.
  16. (31) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 199.
  17. (15) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 199.
  18. (16) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 199.
  19. (14) Paul Menard, Ford, 199.
  20. (19) Darrell Wallace Jr. #, Chevrolet, 199.
  21. (9) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 199.
  22. (32) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 199.
  23. (30) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 199.
  24. (34) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 199.
  25. (21) David Ragan, Ford, 199.
  26. (22) Michael McDowell, Ford, 199.
  27. (17) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 198.
  28. (37) Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 198.
  29. (36) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 198.
  30. (12) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 197.
  31. (18) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 196.
  32. (20) Gray Gaulding, Toyota, 194.
  33. (35) Timmy Hill(i), Chevrolet, 193.
  34. (24) * Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 193.
  35. (10) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 191.
  36. (23) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 189.
  37. (13) Trevor Bayne, Ford, Accident, 108.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  147.526 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs., 42 Mins, 41 Secs. Margin of Victory:  11.685 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  5 for 21 laps.

Lead Changes:  16 among 7 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   M. Truex Jr. 1-10; Kyle Busch 11-28; J. McMurray 29; Kyle Busch 30; M. Truex Jr. 31-63; J. Logano 64-72; M. Truex Jr. 73-89; Kyle Busch 90-93; M. Truex Jr. 94-123; Kyle Busch 124-130; K. Kahne 131; W. Byron # 132; Kyle Busch 133-160; M. Truex Jr. 161-163; D. Hamlin 164; Kyle Busch 165-168; M. Truex Jr. 169-200.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  M. Truex Jr. 6 times for 125 laps; Kyle Busch 6 times for 62 laps; J. Logano 1 time for 9 laps; W. Byron # 1 time for 1 lap; J. McMurray 1 time for 1 lap; D. Hamlin 1 time for 1 lap; K. Kahne 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 78,18,22,2,48,42,41,20,14,11

Stage #2 Top Ten: 78,2,18,11,20,22,48,42,14,24

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, March 18 2018
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