A pass for the lead with just over 20 laps remaining in the Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway proved crucial to Martin Truex Jr. on his drive to winning in his team’s backyard.
Truex passed Ryan Blaney exiting Turn 2 to take the lead with 24 laps to go and held off Blaney on three restarts to win for the ninth time in his career and seventh time since 2015.
“It feels great,” Truex said. “It’s definitely been a thorn in our side. That’s for sure. You know for years and years even, before I was with this (Furniture Row) team, for whatever reason we always ran good here and never could close the deal.
“Proud to get these guys back in victory lane. This is our home race track — the guys from Colorado. Appreciate all the fans. We got a lot of fans from Colorado here today. I met a bunch of them before the race and hopefully they’re all psyched.”
Brad Keselowski finished second and Kevin Harvick rounded out the podium.
Blaney and Kyle Busch rounded out the top-five.
Kyle Larson, Daniel Suarez, Jamie McMurray, Clint Bowyer and Trevor Bayne rounded out the top-10.
Blaney led the field to the green flag at 7:53 p.m. Truex shot past Blaney’s outside exiting Turn 2 to take the lead on the 11th lap. Landon Cassill brought out the first caution on lap 29 when a flat right-front tire led to slamming the wall in Turn 1. He slammed the wall a second time on lap 50.
On pit road, Chase Elliott was exiting pit road when he made contact with Michael McDowell, who was coming into his pit box.
Kevin Harvick took the lead opting not to pit under the second caution, but spun the tires on the lap 62 restart and lost the lead to Kyle Busch, who drove on to win the first stage.
Truex led the field to the restart on lap 88 and held it, through teammate Erik Jones spinning in Turn 2 on lap 97, through lap 100, then lost it to Busch.
Blaney took back the lead on lap 143 and won the second stage.
He and Truex battled back and forth for the lead in the final stage.
Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson made contact on the restart with five laps to go, sending Johnson spinning through the grass in Turn 1 and setting up the final two-lap run to the finish.
Ty Dillon brought out a caution on lap 62 for a solo spin in Turn 2. Erik Jones spun out the first of three times on lap 97 in Turn 2. LaJoie slammed the wall in Turn 3 after suffering cuts in both right-side tires. Gray Gaulding slammed the wall in Turn 4 and shredded his right-rear tire in Turn 2 on lap 146. Paul Menard and AJ Allmendinger crashed together in Turn 1 with 74 laps to go. Jones got loose in speedy dry in Turn 2 and spun out with 52 to go. LaJoie slammed the wall in Turn 1 with 24 to go. Jones got turned by Ty Dillon and spun through the infield grass with nine to go.
With 68 to go, a violent three-car wreck in Turn 1 involving Joey Logano, Danica Patrick and Aric Almirola sent Almirola to the University of Kansas Medical Center. As of the publishing of this piece, no further update was available on his condition.
The race lasted three hours, 24 minutes and 16 seconds at an average speed of 117.640 mph. There were 21 lead changes among nine different drivers and 15 cautions for 61 laps.
Larson leaves with a 44-point lead over Truex.