Truex Jr. roars to win Hollywood Casino 400
KANSAS CITY, Kan.—Martin Truex Jr. bookended the second round of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs with his seventh win of the season Sunday, Oct. 22, in the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.
Kurt Busch finished second, Ryan Blaney was third, Chase Elliott fourth, and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five
Truex also was up front at the beginning of the race, starting on the pole and leading the first 35 laps before a restart penalty. He made his way from the back to the front twice in the first two 80-lap stages of the race that made up the first 160 laps of the 267-lap race, also falling to the back because of an unscheduled pit stop for a loose wheel on Lap 91.
Truex took his final lead of the race with just over 50 laps remaining.
Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick dominated the race between Truex's two stints up front, including a Busch win of the opening stage. Hamlin won the second stage through a pit strategy of staying out when the yellow flag waved with four laps remaining in stage two.
After pit stops, Harvick was up front for the restart at the beginning of the final stage. Busch retook the lead on a restart just past lap 200, giving way to Truex a few laps later.
Busch and Harvick were snake-bitten by an ill-timed 10th and final yellow flag during a cycle of green-flag pit stops on lap 235. Both had already pitted under green and gone a lap down. They took the wave-around during the caution to get back on the lead lap.
Brad Keselowski, who, like Truex, was already locked into the third round, incurred a pit-road speeding penalty during the caution.
Several drivers not already with positions secured in the next round, had trouble throughout the race.
More than a dozen cars were collected in a crash on a Lap 198 restart that began with an Erik Jones spin. Drivers involved included playoff drivers Ryan Blaney, Matt Kenseth and Jamie McMurray. Kenseth was parked for the rest of the race, because too many members worked on the car when it was under the crash-repair clock.
The race was red-flagged for track cleanup from the wreck that saw Jones' car get airborne after hard, head-on contact with the wall.
Ricky Stenhouse hit the wall with just under 100 laps remaining. Another playoff driver, Kyle Larson, retired from the race earlier, experiencing the first engine failure of his career on Lap 77.
Two Jimmie Johnson spins around Lap 190 resulted in two yellow flags.
Still, Johnson advanced to the next round of the playoffs. Drivers eliminated at Kansas were Larson, Kenseth, Stenhouse and McMurray.
NOTES: James "Jim" Watson, a travel fabricator for Furniture Row Racing, passed away after having a heart attack Saturday night. The 55-year-old was with the team at Kansas Speedway on Friday and Saturday. ... Martin Truex Jr. won at Kansas Speedway in May. ... Kevin Harvick won last year's Hollywood Casino 400. ... Ryan Blaney started in the back after posting the third fastest lap in the last round of qualifying Friday, because his car failed post-qualifying inspection. ... Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers Blaney and Austin Dillon were among the top 10 finishers of the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Kansas on Saturday (Blaney third and Dillon sixth). ... Daniel Hemric was on standby for Paul Menard at Kansas, as Menard and his wife await the birth of their second child. ... Jimmie Johnson leads active drivers with three Kansas Speedway wins, tying him with Jeff Gordon for most all-time wins at the track. ... Sunday's race was the 500th career Cup Series start for Kasey Kahne and the 100th for Matt DiBenedetto.