LAS VEGAS, NV (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. is locked into Round 2 of the NASCAR Playoffs after picking up the win in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Truex passed Stewart Haas Racings Kevin Harvick on Lap 248 and led the final 19-laps to pick up his 24th career Cup series victory.
“We took a gamble, qualified 24th,” said Truex, whose team elected to bring a car with more downforce versus less drag. “For a while it wasn’t looking too smart with the 4 (Harvick) out front. Got the right adjustments in the end. Had a great car all day long.”
“I knew the Gibbs cars would be tough,” said Harvick. “Martin was just so much better on the second half of the run. He made up that ground there, was able to stay close enough to us. My car started to get loose and push the front. It was just in kind of a four-wheel drift. So we did some things this weekend that we probably will have to undo going forward.”
Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski finished third followed by Hendrick Motorsports Chase Elliott in fourth and Penske’s Ryan Blaney in fifth.
Hendrick Motorsports teammates Alex Bowman and William Byron were sixth and seventh respectively, followed by Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kyle Larson in eighth, reigning series champion Joey Logano in ninth and Roush Fenway Racing’s Ryan Newman in 10th.
Larson’s teammate Kurt Busch ran in the Top-10 for the first two stages, finishing sixth in Stage 1 and ninth in Stage 2, however on the green flag start for the third and final Stage, Busch’s No. 1 Gearwrench Chevrolet was sandwiched between two cars and suffered damage to the front fender, causing a flat tire that sent the 2004 Cup Series Champion into the outside wall.
“We were trying to go for the same spot in the middle and ended up four-wide,” said Busch who was credited with a 39th place finish. “Got a fender rub and the day’s done, it happens that fast. Everybody wants to get to the middle, that’s where you make up the most spots and Truex and I were going for the same piece of real estate.”
The finish leaves Busch in 14th place in the points standing, eight points behind 13th place Newman. The Top 12 in points will advance to Round 2 following next week’s race at Richmond Raceway and the third race of Round 1 on “The Roval” in Charlotte.