Martin Truex Jr. Outperforms Kyle Busch At Auto Club Speedway To Win Auto Club 400


By: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com

FONTANA, Calif. – In the closing laps of Sunday’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway, Martin Truex Jr. battled and outperformed Kyle Busch to capture his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win of the season.

With just 39 laps to go, Truex passed Busch for the race lead, and two laps later, both drivers hit pit road nose-to-tail for the final stops of the afternoon. Busch’s pit crew got him off pit road just ahead of Truex. With just 31 laps remaining, Truex chased down and pulled off the race-winning pass on Busch. Truex, defending Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion, finished out the afternoon leading a race high of 125 of the 200 laps.

“It’s good to be here,” Truex said in Victory Lane. “I am really proud of my team and everybody here. We’ve started the season out strong. Everyone kept asking when we were going to win and we hadn’t won any stages yet. And I said don’t worry, we are close. We just need to figure it out a little bit. And today, what a damn hotrod. This thing was unbelievable. Just thanks to all the guys and everybody at Toyota, TRD, Bass Pro Shops, 5-hour ENERGY, Auto Owners and all of our sponsors and helps supports this deal. It’s a dream come true and this team is unbelievable.”

Kyle Larson finished second in the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 DC Solar Chevrolet. Larson had quite an afternoon at Auto Club Speedway. On lap 39, the first caution of the day came out when Kevin Harvick crashed along the backstretch after making heavy contact with the side of Larson’s car. Harvick finished a disappointing 35th after winning the last three races, but Larson battled back to capture his second top-three finish of the season.

“We were racing really hard and I was better than him in three and four and he was better than me in one and two,” Larson said about the battle with Harvick in the opening laps on Sunday. “I would side draft him down the front stretch and he would side draft me down the back stretch and I don’t know if he was just coming down to side draft me or what but we made contact and it spun his car to the right. So, you never want to make contact with anybody but all in all it was a good day for our DC Solar Chevrolet team. We had a lot of weird issues like vibrations and stuff that made us have to restart in the back and we would have to go back forward.  It always seemed like we would get to third or fourth and kind of stall out there. But it was still a very good day.”

Busch, driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry held on to finish third. Although a third-place finish is a great day, the result was disappointing for Busch. He entered the race coming off two consecutive second-place finishes, and during Sunday’s race, Busch led on six occasions for 62 laps. At the end of the day, Busch was a contender, and his pit crew got the job done on the final pit stop, but his car just wasn’t fast enough to beat Truex.

“Just thought we were closer than that, but obviously not,” Busch said. “We were right on top of the 78 (Martin Truex Jr.) yesterday. The first run I thought we were really good and showed some strength, but from there on out showed no strength.”

Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano rounded out the top-five. Denny Hamlin, Erik Jones, Ryan Blaney, Jimmie Johnson and Austin Dillon completed the top-10.

Throughout the afternoon, there were 16 lead changes among seven drivers. There were also five cautions for 21 laps.

Truex currently leads the standings by nine points over Busch.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will visit Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, March 25 for the STP 500. Live coverage of the race will broadcast on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 2 p.m. ET.

 

TheFourthTurn.com is a daily motorsports news outlet based in Florence, South Carolina, concentrating on NASCAR, ARCA Racing Series, World of Outlaws Late Models and much more. On the site, you’ll find unique opinions, original news content, team press releases, breathtaking photos and videos. Be sure to like TheFourthTurn on Facebook and follow @TheFourthTurn on Twitter.

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