Martin Truex Jr. cruises to 4th win of the season at Kentucky

From The Marbles
<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nascar/sprint/drivers/380/" data-ylk="slk:Martin Truex Jr">Martin Truex Jr</a>. (78) leads Jimmie Johnson (48) into Turn 1 during the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Kentucky Speedway, Saturday, July 14, 2018, in Sparta, Ky. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Martin Truex Jr. (78) leads Jimmie Johnson (48) into Turn 1 during the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Kentucky Speedway, Saturday, July 14, 2018, in Sparta, Ky. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Martin Truex Jr. is closing the gap on Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick.

The defending Cup Series champion won his fourth race of the season Saturday night at Kentucky in dominating fashion. He led 174 of 267 laps and is now just one win behind Busch and Harvick, who lead the series with five wins each in the first 19 races of the season.

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No one could challenge Truex straight up. The only drivers that could were those that took two tires on pit stops and assumed the lead via pit strategy. But even when Brad Keselowski sprinted away on that strategy, Truex ran him down and coasted through the final green-flag stretch of the race for the win.

[Takeaways from Kentucky: Let’s just fast-forward to Homestead]

Truex won the first two stages of the race as well. He had by far the race’s fastest car and it was also a car that wanted to drive away on its own after Truex started celebrating the win.

(via NBC Sports Network)
(via NBC Sports Network)

The win is Truex’s second-straight at Kentucky. And he’s also the only driver who’s ever won a stage at the track. He swept the first two stages on the way to his win a year ago. This year, his win snaps an even-numbered-year streak of Brad Keselowski’s. Keselowski had won at Kentucky in 2012, 2014 and 2016.

It seems an incredibly safe bet that Truex, Busch and Harvick will be three of the four drivers racing for the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November. We’ve said that before, but its a statement that gets more and more certain with each passing week. The three drivers, along with Clint Bowywer, have combined to win all of the non-restrictor plate races on the Cup Series schedule.

Bowyer is the leading candidate to be the fourth driver in that title mix. He’s got the fourth-most playoff points. But that spot is grasped tenuously.

Here’s the full results from Kentucky:

1. Martin Truex Jr.
2. Ryan Blaney
3. Brad Keselowski
4. Kyle Busch
5. Kevin Harvick
6. Kurt Busch
7. Erik Jones
8. Aric Almirola
9. Kyle Larson
10. Joey Logano
11. Paul Menard
12. Clint Bowyer
13. Chase Elliott
14. Jimmie Johnson
15. Daniel Suarez
16. Denny Hamlin
17. Jamie McMurray
18. David Ragan
19. Matt Kenseth
20. William Byron
21. Ryan Newman
22. Austin Dillon
23. Chris Buescher
24. Michael McDowell
25. Kasey Kahne
26. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
27. Bubba Wallace
28. Ross Chastain
29. Ty Dillon
30. AJ Allmendinger
31. Corey LaJoie
32. BJ McLeod
33. Landon Cassill
34. Timmy Hill
35. Jesse Little
36. Garrett Smithley
37. Matt DiBenedetto
38. JJ Yeley
39. Alex Bowman

 

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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