Under sunny Southern Cali skies, polesitter Martin Truex Jr led the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series field to green for the final race of the #NASCARgoeswest swing.
Truex Jr quickly lost the lead when his Toyota-teammate Kyle Busch, who started 2nd, drove underneath him and began to drive away. With 22 laps to go in Stage 1, while battling for 4th position with Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick got loose coming out of Turn 2. Harvick turned down on the backstretch in an effort to side draft Larson and let know he wasn’t happy with the way they were racing. Instead, the attempt backfired as Larson turned up the track, pushing Harvick into the SAFER barrier where he hit the front end of the car then bounced and slammed the rear before sliding down the track. Harvick’s #4 Ford sustained heavy damage, and though he managed to return to the race, he ended the day 9 laps down. The stage came to an end on Lap 60 after Martin Truex Jr went around Kyle Busch for the stage victory and the extra playoff point.
Stage 2 played out the same as the first with only one caution on Lap 108 for the #6 of Trevor Bayne who cut the right-front tire and hit the wall. Bayne was out for the day and went on to finish in the last place of 37th. Once again, Martin Truex Jr got the stage win.
The third stage featured one caution as well with 73 laps to go when David Ragan had a tire go down. The rest of the segment ran smoothly with an incredible ongoing battle between Martin Truex Jr and Kyle Busch. When it came to green-flag pit stops, which everybody thought would determine the winner, Truex and Busch had almost identical pit stops. The drivers left pit road side-by-side and continued fighting for first place.
Unfortunately for Kyle Busch, his team went the wrong way when making a wedge adjustment on his car. Instead of tightening up the car, they made it looser. Busch was unable to effectively contend for the lead and fell back to third, where he would finish the race.
Truex, on the other hand, drove away from the field and put all but the top 9 cars a lap down. He crossed the finish line 11 full seconds ahead of second place Kyle Larson. Teammates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano rounded out the Top 5.
Catch the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at “The Paperclip” that is Martinsville Speedway next week for the STP 500. You won’t want to miss the exciting short-track racing so get your tickets HERE!