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MENCS: Truex dominates in the Bluegrass State

(MRN) Martin Truex Junior struck again for NASCAR’s “Big Three” on Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway, posting his fourth win of the season as he regains his championship stride from a year ago. Truex started from the pole, swept each of the first two stages and led a race-high 174 laps en route to his second straight win on the mile-and-a-half oval. As for the two other members of the sport’s top trio, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick notched top-ten finishes in each of the first two stages and placed fourth and fifth, respectively, in the final running order. Truex, Busch and Harvick have now combined to win fourteen of the year’s first nineteen races. They presently occupy the top three positions in the regular-season point standings with just seven races left before the 2018 Playoffs open in Las Vegas. Truex becomes the first Cup Series driver to win back-to-back races at Kentucky in the eight years the series has visited the track. He’s close to matching his championship pace of a year ago. Through nineteen races of the 2017 season, Truex had three victories and fourteen stage wins. He led the standings by thirty-eight points over second-place Kyle Larson. This year, he has one more race win to his credit though he is only third in points, 110 behind leader Busch, with just five stage wins.

Ryan Blaney chased Truex to the checkered flag on Saturday before falling one-point-nine seconds short of victory. Brad Keselowski (one of Blaney’s Team Penske teammates) grabbed third place with Busch and Harvick completing the top five.

NASCAR CUP SERIES

Top 10 Finishers in the Quaker State 400

DRIVER STARTING POSITION LAPS LED

1. Martin Truex Jr. (Pole) 174

2. Ryan Blaney (7) 1

3. Brad Keselowski (4) 38

4. Kyle Busch (5) —

5. Kevin Harvick (3) —

6. Kurt Busch (9) 45

7. Erik Jones (2) —

8. Aric Almirola (12) —

9. Kyle Larson (18) —

10. Joey Logano (19) 5

CUP SERIES NOTES …

Saturday night’s race yielded just four cautions, matching the track record for fewest yellow flags that was set in 2012. The twenty-two caution laps did erase the old mark for the fewest run, which was twenty-four … Hendrick Motorsports announced over the weekend that Monster Energy Series crew chief Chad Knaus has signed a two-year contract extension that’ll keep him with the Number-48 team and seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson through the 2020 season. The veteran driver, also under contract for two more years, is currently in the throes of a forty-two-race winless streak – longest of his career. Johnson finished fourteenth on Saturday night in Kentucky.

NASCAR CUP SERIES Playoff Push After 19 Races

1. Kyle Busch 5 Wins and 30 Playoff Points

2. Kevin Harvick 5 Wins and 27 Playoff Points

3. M. Truex Jr. 4 Wins and 25 Playoff Points

4. Clint Bowyer 2 Wins and 10 Playoff Points

5. Joey Logano 1 Win and 7 Playoff Points

6. Austin Dillon 1 Win and 5 Playoff Points

7. Erik Jones 1 Win and 5 Playoff Points

WINLESS DRIVERS POINTS

8. Brad Keselowski 630

9. Kurt Busch 601

10. Kyle Larson 581

11. Denny Hamlin 559

12. Ryan Blaney 546

13. Aric Almirola 534

14. Jimmie Johnson 484

15. Chase Elliott 469

16. Alex Bowman 427

****

17. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. -9

18. Paul Menard -23

19. Ryan Newman -79

20. Daniel Suarez -83

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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