Martin Truex Jr. wins playoff opener at Las Vegas

Martin Truex Jr. hadn’t won since June but he showed Sunday he will be a factor in this 2019 NASCAR Cup Series title battle.

Martin Truex Jr. wins playoff opener at Las Vegas

Truex passed Kevin Harvick with 20 of 267 laps remaining and went on to cruise to victory in Sunday night’s South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, taking the first win in the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

Truex had won four times this season but his most recent victory came in June at Sonoma, Calif., and had not finished better than 13th in the last three races.

The win is the 24th of his career and the victory locks Truex into the second round of the playoffs regardless of how he finishes in the next two races.

"The magic was back today, that's for sure," Truex said after the race. "We took a gamble this weekend; thanks to everybody back at the shop. We took a gamble and qualified 24th and for a while there we weren't looking too smart.

"We got the right adjustments at the end and had a great car all night long. I want to thank everyone who makes this happen for us. We're on our way to making a championship run. We'll get a lot of points and go to the next round.

"That run before when (Harvick) was just running away from us we got too loose and I had to baby it for too long. I told (crew chief Cole Pearn) that he needed to tighten me up some more so I could hustle.

"We hustled all the way to the checkers and got the job done there."

 

Brad Keselowski finished third, Chase Elliott was fourth and Ryan Blaney rounded out the top-five.

Completing the top-10 finishers were Alex Bowman, William Byron, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano and Ryan Newman.

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Stage 3

Following the break between Stages 2 and 3, all of the lead-lap card elected to pit with Truex the first off pit road.

During the pit stops, Larson was penalized on his pit stop for a safety violation and had to restart from the rear of the field.

On the restart on Lap 168, Truex was followed by Logano, Elliott, Harvick and Bowman.

Elliott went three-wide on Lap 169 and came away with second place. Less than a lap later, Elliott went to the inside of Truex and came away with the lead for the first time in the race.

On Lap 180, shortly after reporting a tire rub, Byron spun off Turn 4 to bring out a caution. All of the lead-lap cars elected to pit and Hamlin – thanks to a two-tire pit stop – was first off pit road.

Austin Dillon was penalized for an uncontrolled tire penalty during his stop and had to restart from the rear of the field.

On the restart on Lap 186, Hamlin led the way followed by Blaney, Newman and Daniel Suarez (all on two tires) and Harvick was fifth, the first on four new tires.

Blaney quickly made his way around Hamlin and into the lead on the restart only to see Harvick power past both of them and into the lead himself.

On Lap 188, Kurt Busch had a tire go down and hit the Turn 3 wall hard to bring out a caution. 

 

Several lead-lap cars elected to pit but Harvick remained on the track and led on the restart on Lap 196. He was followed by Blaney, Newman, Truex and Denny Hamlin.

With 60 laps to go in the race, Harvick had moved out to a 2.3-second lead over Truex as Blaney ran in third. Keselowski moved up to fourth and Bowman ran fifth.

Keselowski – who wasn’t in contention for the win most of the race – moved up to third with 50 laps to go. Harvick remained out front with a comfortable 4-second lead.

Several cars began a final round of green-flag pit stops on Lap 229. Once the cycle of stops was complete on Lap 246, Harvick remained in the lead but with only slight advantage over Truex.

On Lap 247, Truex was able to get around Harvick on the outside and claim the lead for himself.

With 10 laps remaining, Truex had pulled out to a 2.2-second lead over Harvick as Keselowski ran in third.

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Cla # Driver Manufacturer Laps Time Laps Led
1 19 United States Martin Truex Jr.  Toyota 267   32
2 4 United States Kevin Harvick  Ford 267 4.173 47
3 2 United States Brad Keselowski  Ford 267 6.344  
4 9 United States Chase Elliott  Chevrolet 267 6.60 12
5 12 United States Ryan Blaney  Ford 267 9.086 1
6 88 United States Alex Bowman  Chevrolet 267 15.381  
7 24 United States William Byron  Chevrolet 267 19.865 6
8 42 United States Kyle Larson  Chevrolet 267 24.531 2
9 22 United States Joey Logano  Ford 267 24.839 105
10 6 United States Ryan Newman  Ford 267 25.261  
11 48 United States Jimmie Johnson  Chevrolet 267 25.273  
12 3 United States Austin Dillon  Chevrolet 267 25.633  
13 10 United States Aric Almirola  Ford 267 29.577 3
14 21 United States Paul Menard  Ford 267 29.888  
15 11 United States Denny Hamlin  Toyota 267 30.256 3
16 13 United States Ty Dillon  Chevrolet 267 31.763  
17 8 United States Daniel Hemric  Chevrolet 267 31.772  
18 37 United States Chris Buescher  Chevrolet 266 1 lap 1
19 18 United States Kyle Busch  Toyota 266 1 lap  
20 41 Mexico Daniel Suarez  Ford 266 1 lap 29
21 95 United States Matt DiBenedetto  Toyota 266 1 lap 9
22 38 United States David Ragan  Ford 266 1 lap  
23 43 United States Darrell Wallace Jr.  Chevrolet 266 1 lap  
24 34 United States Michael McDowell  Ford 266 1 lap 16
25 14 United States Clint Bowyer  Ford 266 1 lap 2
26 17 United States Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Ford 265 2 laps  
27 47 United States Ryan Preece  Chevrolet 265 2 laps  
28 32 United States Corey Lajoie  Ford 265 2 laps  
29 00 United States Landon Cassill  Chevrolet 265 2 laps  
30 36 United States Matt Tifft  Ford 264 3 laps  
31 15 United States Ross Chastain  Chevrolet 262 5 laps  
32 53 United States J.J. Yeley  Chevrolet 260 7 laps  
33 51 United States B.J. McLeod  Chevrolet 259 8 laps  
34 27 United States Joe Nemechek  Chevrolet 257 10 laps  
35 52 United States Garrett Smithley  Chevrolet 255 12 laps  
36 20 United States Erik Jones  Toyota 254 13 laps  
37 77 United States Reed Sorenson  Chevrolet 250 17 laps  
38 66 United States Joey Gase  Toyota 249 18 laps  
39 1 United States Kurt Busch  Chevrolet 187 80 laps  

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Truex snatches Stage 2 win at Las Vegas from Logano
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