July 15, 2018 / 3:07 AM / a month ago

Truex Jr. in control in repeat win at Kentucky

For the second year in a row on Saturday night, Martin Truex Jr. turned in a dominating performance to win the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway.

The victory was the fourth of the season for the Furniture Row Racing Toyota driver, who is the defending series champion.

As he did a year ago, Truex won all three stages this year. And as he did a year ago, he led the most laps on Saturday — 174 of 267.

In terms of most driver victories in 2018, Saturday’s result moved Truex to within one of Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing and Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing, who each have five.

Finishing second at the 1.5-mile Kentucky oval was Ryan Blaney of Team Penske. Third was Blaney’s teammate, Brad Keselowski.

Rounding out the top five were Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick.

Truex had few challenges in the first two stages but in the final stage he found himself trailing Keselowski and the No. 2 Ford when the latter opted to take just two tires during the caution between stages two and three.

Truex, on four tires, slowly tracked Keselowski down and on Lap 201, made the pass for the lead.

A couple laps later, a wreck brought out a yellow flag. During pit stops, Kurt Busch of Stewart-Haas Racing, who took just two tires, moved into the lead and was P1 on the restart with 53 laps to go.

With 44 to go, Truex went under Busch and was in the lead again. From there, he cruised to a 1.9-second victory.

Last year, Truex had a 15-second lead over second-place Kyle Larson with two laps to go. The yellow flag waved, however, before Truex could take the white flag and he then had to survive an overtime restart on worn tires to get the win — which came under yellow as a wreck on the final lap well behind him ended the race.

The race was No. 19 on the 36-race 2018 scheduled — the playoff portion of which begins seven races from now on Sept. 16 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway 1.5-mile oval.

—Field Level Media

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