Camry driver Martin Truex Jr. scored his fourth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win of the season at Kentucky Speedway on Saturday night to give Toyota 10 wins through 19 races in 2018.
Truex led the field five times for a race-high 174 laps (of 267) and won the first two stages before taking the checkered flag and winning back-to-back wins at the Sparta, Kentucky, track.
“You never know quite what is going to happen and we had such a strong Toyota tonight they weren’t going to beat us,” said the defending NASCAR champion. “You never know how they’re going to turn out, so we just keep our heads down. We don’t get too excited. We keep working on the race car and trying to stay calm and not get ahead of ourselves, so we had to make a lot of adjustments tonight on the car and had to battle back a from a few times getting passed for the lead and coming out of the pits second or third, but this Auto-Owners Toyota was amazing tonight, so just thanks to everybody for their support and making all this possible – Toyota, TRD (Toyota Racing Development), Bass Pro, 5-Hour, Auto-Owners of course being our primary tonight and so many people make this possible.”
Truex started from the pole position for the Kentucky race, while his Toyota teammate Erik Jones, who finished seventh, started second. Camry driver Kyle Busch also tallied a top-10 finish at Kentucky with a result of fourth.
In the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Camry driver Christopher Bell captured his second victory of the season when he won at Kentucky Speedway after starting from the rear of the field on Friday night. Through 17 races, Bell is tied for the series lead in wins and has accumulated 12 Playoff points.
“Man, it was extremely difficult,” said Bell. “Starting in the back there, I knew my car was going to handle a little bit different than what it would at the front and all throughout practice I knew that we were – my car that was capable of racing for the win, but when we started in the back, man, it just drives so different back there and the guys kept getting good pit stops and we’d gain a spot here, gain a spot there, get a good restart and next thing you know we’re up there racing at the front and it’s driving totally different and keep telling myself, ‘We’ve got a shot at this thing,’ and just really proud of this team, everyone at Rheem, Ruud, GameStop, Toyota, TRD (Toyota Racing Development), all the people at Xfinity that help put this series on.”
Three Tundra drivers placed inside the top-10 at Kentucky in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series contest Thursday night with Brandon Jones (fourth), Todd Gilliland (seventh) and Noah Gragson (eighth) all having strong outings.
Gilliland, who is vying for a Playoff spot with four races remaining in the regular season, is looking to have better finishes to his races.
“It was a tough one for sure,” said Gilliland. “We just – we lost spots on pit road and we lost spots on every restart and just I’d say not my best race by far as far as everything I’d say. I didn’t get in the box good. You know, just overall, but we’ve got a clean Tundra and so we can kind of go back now I guess and kind of regroup and see what we’ve got now. It sucks to run like this, but we had a pretty good run in the first stage there, so I guess you can just look at the positives and you’ve just got to be the guy that’s there at the end, not the beginning.”
Toyota drivers swept the top-three positions in Saturday’s NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (NKNPSE) race at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park with Tyler Ankrum capturing the win and Dillon Bassett and Tyler Dippel placing second and third, respectively.
The win was Ankrum’s second of the year. He remains first in the NKNPSE standings and has finished top-10 or better in all eight races this season.