Weekend Recap: Kentucky – July 5 – July 8, 2017
By Matteo Marcheschi
Truex Sweeps Stages; Takes Third Win of 2017
Martin Truex Jr. dominated in Saturday night’s Quaker State 400, leading 152 of the race’s 274 laps and winning all three stages. While Truex’s car took time to get up to speed at the beginning of runs, he would catch the leader (Kyle Busch, most of the time) after 30 or 40 laps. Truex, then, was at a huge advantage when the final stage went green all the way until two laps to go, when Kurt Busch had a mechanical failure which put fluid on the track. Truex, though, would execute his restart perfectly in overtime, and made it to the white flag before a wreck involving Matt Kenseth and Daniel Suarez brought out the caution, ending the race.
Busch Falls Short Again
Kyle Busch finished fifth in Saturday night’s race, but he seemed to have a second place car all day. While he led 112 laps, Busch never could hold Truex off or pass him back without a caution and a restart. Unfortunately for Busch, there were no cautions during the final stage until moments before the white flag. The ensuing restart did not go to plan, though. Busch fell from second place to fifth as his car broke loose throughout the penultimate lap. He may have fallen further back if the caution hadn’t come out. Saturday night was Busch’s seventh top five finish and the 13th race out of 18 where he has led at least one lap.
Johnson, Keselowski Run Into Trouble
Trouble bit a couple of top contenders as Brad Keselowski got loose on lap 88. Keselowski would get into Clint Bowyer, who spun as well. As Keselowski continued his slide up the track, he clipped Jimmie Johnson, sending him into the wall. Keselowski would finish the race in 39th, while Johnson would get only his second career last place finish. Bowyer sustained little damage, and would finish the event in 13th place.
Busch Takes Win No. 88
Kyle Busch won the Alsco 300 at Kentucky Speedway on Saturday afternoon. He led 70 out of 200 laps. It is Busch’s second win in five races in the XFINITY Series in 2017 and his 88th career XFINITY Series win. Busch has not finished worse than 7th in his five starts in 2017.
Cup Drivers Dominate
Let me list the leaders of Saturday’s XFINITY race at Kentucky: Erik Jones (77), Kyle Busch (70), Ryan Blaney (52), Joey Logano (1). That’s right; an XFINITY regular didn’t lead a single lap in the race. That’s pretty sad. The highest XFINITY regular in either of the stages was Tyler Reddick, who finished fifth in stage one. William Byron was the highest finishing regular at the end of the day, in seventh. Seven Cup regulars were entered in the race, and Cup regulars finished 1-6. The exception was Paul Menard, who crashed on lap 103. Of the 110 stage points given out in the two stages prior to the end of the race, only 30 were earned by XFINITY regulars. “Names are made here.” Hah!
Jones, Gaughan, Reed, Caught in Odd Pileup at Start
At the start of Saturday’s event, Kyle Busch and Erik Jones headed the pack. As those two crept to the start line, the field seemed to think that it was time to go. The two leaders, however, were waiting for the green flag to wave, as is the rule. The field seemed to think that the restart zone was in effect, which it is usually, except at the initial start of a race. As those mid-pack realized Busch and Jones hadn’t gone yet, they slowed up, which resulted in an accordion effect. Blake Koch hit the back of Brendan Gaughan as cars slammed on the brakes in front of them. Gaughan, out of control, collided with his teammate Brandon Jones. In the melee, Ryan Reed plowed into the back of Koch. Jones would drop out due to the damage, having not even completed a lap of the event. Gaughan would blow a tire a couple of laps after the restart, ending the day in the turn two wall. Reed would battle issues for a while, before pulling it to the garage due to overheating issues, likely stemming from the front-end damage sustained in the wreck. Blake Koch would also battle mechanical issues, but managed to complete the race one lap down, placing 23rd on the day.
Bell Wins Third of the Season
Christopher Bell won his third race of the Camping World Truck Series season on Thursday night. Bell is second in points, 28 points behind Johnny Sauter, but leads the series in playoff points, with 19.
Nemechek’s Bid For Three in a Row Spoiled
John Hunter Nemechek was going for three victories in a row at Kentucky Speedway, and looked to be in position, up front early in the final stage. Nemechek, though, ran into issues, hitting the wall with 15 laps to go, and wasn’t able to recover. Nemechek would fall two laps down and finished a dismal 19th.
Jones Nearly Takes No. 99 Truck to Victory Lane
Brandon Jones finished second to Bell, but not for lack of trying. Jones caught Bell as the laps wound down, and was able stay with him despite turbulent air creating drag to slow Jones down. Jones looked to be in position to pounce, but a couple of loose moments kept him from the chance to challenge Bell. It’s worth noting that MDM Motorsports and the No. 99 team took the previous race off to work on their program. Clearly, something clicked, because they were one of the fastest at Kentucky.