Martin Truex Jr. dominated at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., on Sunday, winning the race going away for his first victory of the season.
The 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion had to watch rival Kevin Harvick win the previous three races, but Sunday was finally Truex’s day as he also drove his Toyota Camry to wins in Stage 1 and Stage 2 for a maximum seven playoff points at the Auto Club 400. He even accomplished something no one had before, by starting on the pole and then sweeping the race.
Kyle Larson finished second, 11.685 seconds behind Truex. Kyle Busch was third, with teammates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano fourth and fifth, respectively.
“Everybody kept asking me ‘when are you gonna win one of these again?,” Truex said in Victory Lane during an interview on FOX. “Well, there you go.”
Ford’s dominance since the season-opening Daytona 500 was finally broken as Toyota won its first race of the season as well. A Chevrolet won at Daytona. Keselowski and Logano were joined by Ryan Blaney as the only Fords to finish in the top 10.
Truex won for the 13th time in the past 65 races. He won three times in his first 381 Cup starts.
“What a hot rod, this thing was unbelievable,” Truex said “I knew we were close yesterday, we just had to be better to win.”
Harvick again looked strong, but made contact with Larson on Lap 37 of 200. Harvick finished nine laps back in 35th place.
Larson and Harvick had been jockeying back and forth for a few laps and then things got sideways. Harvick took the blame, but it didn’t really dash Larson’s hopes.
“Just trying to get too much,” Harvick said after the race. “Just my fault back there.”
The Cup series heads to Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Va., next Sunday at the half-mile, paper-clip shaped oval for the first short-track race of the season.
—K. Lee Davis, Field Level Media