Martin Truex Jr. was dominant throughout and had enough left on a final restart to win the NASCAR Cup race Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway.
Second in points entering the 400-mile event, Truex started second beside Kyle Busch and won the first two stages. Truex led the final segment by as many as 15 seconds before a final caution created overtime and bunched the field together.
That made no difference as Truex flew past Busch on the restart and went on to his third victory of the season and 10th of his career. He led five times for 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.
Chase Elliott was third in a Chevy, followed by Denny Hamlin and Busch in Toyotas. Busch led 112 laps, but fell short of his third Kentucky victory.
Then again, Truex wasn’t inclined to let anyone get close in earning his first Kentucky triumph.
Pole winner Busch pounced right away and led the first 66 laps but often had Truex close by in the battle of Toyotas. Truex twice found the speed to make timely passes and ultimately took the first two stages, but he saved his best for the last segment.
Running seventh as the third stage began, Truex was back in front within several laps and merely got stronger as he went along. He had a 13-second lead with about 55 laps remaining and was running all alone before Kurt Busch blew an engine with two laps left to create extra time.
It didn’t matter.
Truex’s dominance stole the spotlight from Kyle Busch, who won the Xfinity Series race earlier Saturday and for a while appeared headed toward NASCAR’s first same-day sweep of the two series. But Kentucky’s most dominant driver — nor anybody — else could touch Truex.
Larson’s finish was impressive considering he started 40th after failing inspection on Friday. He soon was among the contenders before being penalized for speeding on pit road, overcoming that setback to pass Kyle Busch after the final restart.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. led three laps and finished 12th, one spot higher than he started in his final Kentucky start.
Kyle Busch wins Xfinity race
Kyle Busch took the lead during a late caution on Lap 168 and held on to win the 300-mile NASCAR Xfinity Series race on Saturday afternoon. The race had been postponed a day earlier because of storms, creating a 700-mile doubleheader for Busch and several other Monster Energy Cup drivers.
Starting the first of two races on the pole, Busch led three times for 70 laps to earn his second straight series victory at Kentucky and third overall on the 1.5-mile oval in Sparta. Though less dominant than last July’s triumph from the pole in which he led 185 laps, Busch’s strong car and wise pit strategy yielded a familiar result.
Pitting earlier for tires and fuel paid off for Busch, who stayed on the track during the final yellow flag. There was no catching his No. 18 Toyota after the restart, though Ryan Blaney tried his best on the final lap after passing Erik Jones’ Toyota for second.
“We did what we needed to do to be there at the end,” Busch said. “We took four tires and that kind of got us behind there with two pit stops to go, and then some of those guys came in again. Obviously, our car was really fast out front and once I got in clean air I didn’t think anybody had anything for us.”
Blaney’s Ford finished 1.097 seconds behind, a strong recovery after he was penalized for a pit road tire violation during the caution.
Kevin Harvick was fourth in a Ford, with Ty Dillon fifth in a Chevy.
Power takes IndyCar pole in Iowa
Will Power won the pole for Sunday’s IndyCar race at Iowa Speedway. This is his fourth pole of the season.
Power was fastest in Saturday’s single-car, two-lap runs on the oval. J.R. Hildebrand qualified second, followed by Helio Castroneves, Ed Carpenter and Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato.
Series leader Scott Dixon will start 17th after a disappointing qualifying run on the oval of just under nine-tenths of a mile. Power has already won twice this season. He will try to give Team Penske its first win in Iowa in 11 tries.