• 64°

Truex Jr. repeats as winner at Kentucky Speedway

Truex Jr. repeats in Kentucky

Albert Cesare/The Cincinnati Enquirer via AP …
Martin Truex Jr. makes a pit stop during the NASCAR Cup Series auto race Saturday, at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Ky. Truex went on to win the race, repeating his 2017 victory in the Bluegrass State.

By Gary B. Graves

AP Sports Writer

SPARTA, Ky. (AP) — Martin Truex Jr. won the NASCAR Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway, passing Brad Keselowski and then Kurt Busch late on the way to repeating as champion on Saturday night.

Truex’s No. 78 Toyota Camry appeared even more dominant than last July as he led five times for 174 of 267 laps and swept the first two stages from the pole. The defending Cup champion was always in contention in the 400-mile race, even while trailing. He proved it at key moments late, overtaking Keselowski on lap 201 and Busch 23 laps later to become Kentucky’s first back-to-back winner, earning his fourth victory this season and 19th of his career.

Ryan Blaney and Keselowski were next in Fords, followed by Kyle Busch (Toyota) and Kevin Harvick (Ford).

Dominant as Truex was a year ago in leading 152 of 274 laps, Busch and Keselowski loomed as favorites after combining for five victories in the previous seven races. Keselowski’s knack for winning this race in even-numbered years was especially compelling, and for a moment it looked like he might do it again with a bold rush off pit road to claim the lead entering the final segment.

Truex soon took care of that before Busch grabbed the lead on lap 210, a brief edge as the defending Cup champion took over for good 14 laps later.

Truex’s dominant run to victory last July provided an opening some hoped might expand membership in Kentucky Speedway’s exclusive winner’s club. He turned out keeping things the same by taking control when he wanted.

It was that way all night for Truex, who led 51 laps to win the first stage and led 118 after claiming the second. Even when he trailed, it wasn’t by much as he stayed close enough to make a run.

Rounding out the top 10 were Kurt Busch, Erik Jones — who started second in a Toyota — Aric Almirola, Kyle Larson and Joey Logano. Larson ran in the top five for much of the night, an impressive performance considering he started from the back of the field as penalty for missing driver introductions.

Kurt Busch led three times for 45 laps, while Keselowski led twice for 38.

UP NEXT

The series heads to Loudon, New Hampshire on July 22 for its lone New England stop. Denny Hamlin won last year’s 301-mile race.

•••

More AP auto racing: http://racing.ap.org/salisburypost/

http://racing.ap.org/salisburypost/schedule/

Comments

Crime

One charged, another dead on sheriff’s most wanted list

Crime

No injuries after car shot eight times on Old Concord Road

Education

RSS talks first steps for new federal relief totaling $66 million

China Grove

Gary’s Barbecue staff, customers look back at 50 years

News

Salisbury Lions Club names Person of the Year, Lion of the Year at 78th annual banquet

Education

Student COVID-19 numbers show first decline since plan A

High School

High school golf: Fowler competes in state tournament

News

Amazon announces new distribution center for North Carolina

News

House passes bill to bar Cooper from mandating COVID shot

Coronavirus

Rowan County sees death 302 from COVID-19; Health Department to host final mass vaccine clinic

Ask Us

Ask Us: What happened to work on South Fulton Street home?

Crime

Blotter: Woman says she was shot in hand on Lincolnton Road

Crime

Rowan Sheriff’s Office charges Salisbury man with operating illegal gambling business

Crime

Blotter: Rockwell man arrested on felony drug, breaking and entering charges

Local

Rep. Amber Baker discusses legislative session during Rowan Democrats breakfast meeting

Local

Thousands of locals, out-of-towners gather for a groovy time at annual Hippie Fest

News

N.C. Zoo ready for expansion if lawmakers OK funding

Education

RSS budgeting for tens of millions in federal COVID-19 relief funding

East Spencer

‘Back in full swing’ for the spring: East Spencer community gathers for food, fun and fellowship at Spring Fest

Local

Rowan native Lingle among those honored with NC Military Veterans Hall of Fame induction

Business

Former pro baseball player, Tar Heel standout Russ Adams finds new career with Trident Insured

Education

Profoundly gifted: Salisbury boy finishing high school, associates degree at 12

Local

Cheerwine Festival will stick to Main Street, stay away from new park in September

Lifestyle

Celebrating Rowan County’s early cabinetmakers