Like hitting for the cycle in baseball, Martin Truex Jr. swept all three stages en route to winning Sunday’s Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Truex passed pole-sitter Brad Keselowski with just over one lap to go to earn his first career triumph at the 1.5-mile track, his first win since Dover last fall and his fifth win in the last 27 NASCAR Cup races.
“It was a gift,” Truex told Fox about Keselowski losing the lead. “We’ve been on the other side of them plenty of times. This is the first one to come our way.”
Truex led 150 of the 267 laps in the race.
It was the first win for Toyota in the 2017 season after Ford swept the first two races: the Daytona 500 (Kurt Busch) and Atlanta (Keselowski).
“Just really proud of the first victory for the 2018 Toyota Camry,” Truex said. “This feels really good. … I was driving my butt off. We got a little lucky at the end there. That’s why you never give up.”
There were fireworks on pit road after the race when Kyle Busch got into a physical altercation with Joey Logano and members of his crew.
Both drivers were quickly separated, but Busch wound up on the ground and emerged with blood on his forehead as he walked away.
“There wasn’t much talking, just a lot of swinging,” Logano told Fox.
Logano said he Busch did not land any blows: “None to me,” Logano said.
Being on a different pit cycle, Jimmie Johnson took the lead when Truex pitted on Lap 210, but Truex was back at the front when Johnson pitted on Lap 229.
Keselowski regained the lead from Truex with 24 laps to go (Lap 243). But Truex was not to be denied, shadowing Keselowski, who appeared to have some type of power or mechanical issues in the last two laps, dropping back in the field.
“It was something pretty major because we lost brakes and the car wouldn’t turn. It broke, but that’s how it goes. I wish it was 265 laps, but it’s not. … You win some this way and you lose some this way.”Also of note, Danica Patrick’s engine expired on Lap 251, further adding to the problems Stewart-Haas Racing experienced Sunday.
Patrick’s teammate, Kevin Harvick, who entered the race as the NASCAR Cup points leader, saw his day end early when the right front tire on his car blew out on Lap 69.