When you look at the season so far through four races, three of them have been about one team. Heading into the final weekend of NASCAR on the west coast, the sole focus was figuring out a way to beat the No. 4 team.
It only took 39 laps to find out the answer. It wasn’t figuring out how exactly to beat Kevin Harvick, but instead finding out exactly how Kevin Harvick will beat himself.
Sure enough, he did that when he tried to get a side-draft off Kyle Larson, he got a bit too close, and next thing he knew he was going into the outside wall on the backstretch.
It took the fastest car over the last month officially out of contention, meaning now the field was wide open to find a different winner.
Here’s the problem, where one team’s dominance ends, another picks up. And certainly that was the story on Sunday.
After how the 2017 season went for Martin Truex Jr, the most wins, the most playoff points, the most stage victories, and the ultimate victory of a season championship, the fact that he didn’t find that same dominance to start 2018 was baffling for the team, and everyone else. But, that’s not saying he hasn’t been strong, he just never completed the deal like he did a year ago.
Well, that certainly came to an end.
Truex started on the pole, led the most laps, won the first stage, then the second, and not only took the car to victory, but had a gap of over 11 seconds on the second-place car of Larson. He flat out found a way to dominate the exact same way Harvick did for the last three weeks.
Does that mean now it’s Truex that’s the one to beat this year? Not necessarily, because despite the dominance, it’s only one race. The season is still early, and a lot more can, and likely will, happen.
Up next, Martinsville, and we all know that place certainly can change everything for any team.
STAGE 1: Martin Truex Jr.
STAGE 2: Martin Truex Jr.
RESULTS: 1-Truex Jr. 2-Larson 3-Kyle Busch 4-Keselowski 5-Logano 6-Hamlin 7-Jones 8-Blaney 9-Johnson 10-Dillon
NOTABLE FINISHES: 15-Byron 35-Harvick
CAUTIONS: 5 for 21 Laps. Lap 39-42 (#4 Incident-T2; 62-66 (Stage 1 Conclusion); 110-113 (#6 Incident-T4); 122-126 (Stage 2 Conclusion); 130-132 (#38 Incident-T2).
LEAD CHANGES: 16 among 7 drivers. M. Truex Jr. 1-10; Kyle Busch 11-28; J. McMurray 29; Kyle Busch 30; M. Truex Jr. 31-63; J. Logano 64-72; M. Truex Jr. 73-89; Kyle
Busch 90-93; M. Truex Jr. 94-123; Kyle Busch 124-130; K. Kahne 131; W. Byron # 132; Kyle Busch 133-160; M. Truex Jr. 161-163; D. Hamlin 164; Kyle Busch 165-168; M. Truex Jr. 169-200.
TIME OF RACE: 2 Hrs, 42 Mins, 41 Secs.
AVERAGE SPEED: 147.526 MPH
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 11.685 Seconds
POINT STANDINGS (Earned/Behind Leader [Playoff Points]): 1. Truex Jr, 216 ; 2. Kyle Busch, -9 ; 3. Logano, -19; 4. Keselowski, -33 ; 5. Blaney, -35 ; 6. Hamlin, -40; 7. Larson, -42; 8. Harvick, -46 ; 9. Bowyer, -61; 10. Almirola, -68