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Truex Jr. gets break, wins Kobalt 400
by Tom Zulewski Iron County Today
Mar 17, 2017 | 506 views | 0 0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
LAS VEGAS – Martin Truex Jr. knew the feeling. Cruising toward a win, bad luck – whether from late caution flags or a challenger with a better car – seemed to always find a way to leave him stranded without the winner’s trophy.

On a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, good fortune smiled down on the driver of the No. 78 Bass Pro Shops Toyota.

Truex surged to the lead when Brad Keselowski lost his momentum with two laps to go and won the Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas. It was Toyota’s first win of the 2017 season and Truex was the first driver to sweep all three stages in a race under NASCAR’s new scoring format.

“We had such a good car all day long and it felt like it slipped away from us there,” said Truex, who lost the lead to Keselowski on lap 244. “We got a little bit lucky with him having an issue and got the win. We’ve been on the other side of those things plenty of times and it definitely feels good to take advantage of someone else’s issue for once and go to Victory Lane.”

The winning sequence was set up following the longest green-flag run of the day at 86 laps when Danica Patrick’s car lost the engine at lap 253, setting off an impressive trail of smoke along the front stretch that bathed the grandstands. Keselowski, who won the pole and started with Truex Jr. on the front row, had no idea what happened with his car at the finish.

“It wouldn't turn and I lost brakes, so that’s a pretty good indicator,” said Keselowski, who was looking for his third win at Las Vegas in the last four years, but ended up fifth. “That’s racing, and that’s why you watch until the end and you never know what’s going to happen.”

Kyle Larson finished second for the second time on the weekend, beating out Chase Elliott and coming through with points for a second- and third-place run in the first two stages.

“The ends of the stages were really exciting because of the way the cautions fell and different pit strategies,” Larson said. “Hopefully we can keep the top-fives rolling and maybe get a win or two shortly.”

Adding to the finish, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano got into a brawl on pit road after the pair made contact on the final lap in a battle for fourth place. While Logano claimed fourth, Busch spun out and finished 22nd, the last car on the lead lap. Busch also left pit road with a cut on his forehead after he was separated from Logano by his adversary’s pit crew.

After two straight wins to open the season, Logano and Keselowski were the highest-finishing Fords on the day. Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Jamie McMurray, Matt Kenseth and Clint Bowyer completed the top 10.

The race had six cautions for 34 laps, and the winning average speed was l36.032 mph. There were 14 lead changes among six drivers.

Truex (150) and Keselowski (89) combined to lead 239 of the 267 laps.

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