Go Bowling 400

Scan All: Martin Truex Jr.’s impressive win at Kansas Speedway (video)

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NASCAR isn’t in Kansas anymore, Dorothy.

Well, at least not again until this fall’s playoff race at Kansas Speedway.

There was plenty of chatter on team radios throughout Saturday night’s Go Bowling 400 at the 1.5-mile track.

Not only was there jubilation from race winner Martin Truex Jr., there was criticism from Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Austin Dillon, philosophical observations from Clint Bowyer, and Aric Almirola screaming about how much pain he was in after the big wreck with Joey Logano and Danica Patrick.

Here’s some of the top exchanges:

Martin Truex to his team with somewhat of a premonition before the start of the race: “Good luck in there. We’ve been close here before. Let’s close the deal here tonight.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. when his car started going south: “I hate to tell you this, but we’ve got a vibration, definitely a loose wheel. Are we going to have this all day long? Let’s get these tires on tight. I don’t care how long y’all take.”

More Earnhardt, same problem: “The wheel’s coming loose again. Ugggh, it’s nerve-wrecking? Why’d the stop take so damn long. I guess I did ask for you to take your time.”

Clint Bowyer after getting pushed back from second place on a restart: “Well, let’s start over.”

Aric Almirola screaming to his spotter and crew chief after the big wreck with Logano and Patrick: “My back, my back, my back, arghhhhhh!”

Jimmie Johnson on Almirola’s crash: “Oh my god, that is not good.

Austin Dillon on Almirola’s crash: “Dude, that is bad, bad, bad, bad.”

Austin Dillon’s spotter on Danica Patrick after the crash with Logano and Almirola: “She’s out. You ain’t going to hurt her, man. She’s tougher than a pine knot.”

Austin Dillon likely didn’t earn any points with grandfather and team owner Richard Childress complaining about his race car after wrecking on the checkered flag lap: “Yes, I’m okay. Gosh dang it, man. It’s unreal. Our cars are pieces of (expletive) every week.”

Martin Truex Jr. upon crossing the start-finish line first: “Yeah, baby. We finally got it. Kansas. Woo! Yeah, finally got it. Hell yeah, man. Hell of a job.”

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Blaney’s back: fourth-place finish at Kansas ends run of bad luck

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For the three races prior to Saturday night’s Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway, Ryan Blaney seemed as if he had been on a merry-go-round.

Three races, three finishes of 33rd or worse: 33rd at Bristol, 36th at Richmond (crash) and 39th last Sunday at Talladega (crash).

During that three-race span, he fell from sixth to 13th in the NASCAR Cup standings.

But Blaney’s bad luck of late finally turned good Saturday night. He was the No. 1 qualifier, led 83 of the race’s 267 laps and appeared headed to what potentially would have been his first career NASCAR Cup win.

Unfortunately, Blaney fell short of victory lane, but not by much, finishing fourth, his second-best finish of the season to a runner-up showing in the Daytona 500. He also moved back up two spots in the standings to 11th.

“It’s nice to have a good run today,” Blaney said. “Yeah, of course we wanted to win, but at the same time, you look at the gains we made all weekend and really being fast all weekend, that puts us back to where we need to be for sure.”

While he didn’t reach his ultimate goal of victory lane, Blaney still took a great deal of positives out of not only his finish, but also of his and his team’s cumulative performance.

“(It was) a good showing, going out there and leading laps and running with some really good cars,” Blaney said. “That’s where this team deserves to be, and that’s where they hopefully will stay.

“So (if) we keep bringing fast cars to the racetrack like that, you never know when maybe one might fall our way.”

Despite a loose race car for much of the race, Blaney kept his composure and either stayed at or near the front of the field.

“I felt like we were the best car from maybe 15, 20 laps, especially if we were out front,” Blaney said. “We got that caution at the end and beat the 78 (eventual winner Martin Truex Jr.) off pit road.

“I thought we were in a pretty good spot, and he made a really good move on that restart and was able to pass us, and then we had a couple more opportunities towards the end of that race, and he got a couple really good restarts and I didn’t, and that was kind of the deciding factor.”

With those three bad finishes behind him, it’s now time for Blaney to build upon his Kansas finish and go out to earn several good race finishes in a row at upcoming tracks such as Charlotte, Dover, Pocono and Michigan.

“It’s really just nice to be back on track to be honest with you,” Blaney said. “The last three races have been really, really bad, and it’s just an extra kind of slap to the face that we’ve had really fast cars in all those races we had troubles in, and we shouldn’t have finished 35th.

“We should have had top 10s in all of them. So it was nice to show our muscle this weekend and prove that this is where the 21 team deserves to be.”

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After prior misses, Truex earns a strike with Go Bowling 400 win at Kansas

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Martin Truex Jr.’s win in Saturday night’s Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway was a means to an end.

After meaning to win – and coming close several times to actually doing so – at the 1.5-mile track over the last few years, Truex finally sealed the deal. He led a race-high 104 of 267 laps – including the final 19 laps – to earn his second win of 2017.

In a way, it was vindication for falling short at Kansas one year ago in the spring race, where he dominated by leading a race-high 172 laps and appeared headed to a win – only to endure a broken bolt that forced him back to pit road and end up 14th.

Saturday night’s win under the lights marked the fifth time Truex has finished in the top-5 at Kansas, including runner-up finishes in both 2012 races, as well as fourth-place finishes in spring 2013 and fall 2014.

But all that – in addition to last year’s disappointing finish – is all in the past. He’s finally kicked the Kansas curse.

“I can’t even tell you,” Truex said when asked how he felt after the win. “It feels amazing to be here. It’s been a long time coming to this racetrack for sure.

“The close calls, the laps led, the heartbreaks that we’ve been through here.  Definitely proud tonight to finally cross that checkered flag first and bring it home for the guys.”

To finally win at a place that had vexed him so many times – some might even call it being robbed for coming up short in several instances – was yet another reason Truex said Saturday’s win was more meaningful than some of his other NASCAR Cup triumphs.

It does, I’m not going to lie to you,” he said. “You know, as a racer, you don’t forget.  You don’t forget those days that ones got away or you screwed up and gave one away or anything like that.

“You never forget those things. They always stick with you. Definitely last year was probably the biggest heart breaker to have the craziest thing happen that you could ever imagine, an eight-second lead just gone and … it was so heartbreaking.

“It’s definitely sweet redemption tonight. Definitely feels good to be here, and I feel like it’s been a long time coming, and we definitely earned it, that’s for sure.”

But for a few moments late in the race, Truex wondered if maybe the win would once again be taken away from him by none other than his teammate, Erik Jones.

Jones spun on Lap 260 – seven laps from the scheduled finish – after making contact with Ty Dillon’s Chevrolet. While Truex maintained the lead on the ensuing restart and held on for the final two laps, he wondered if Jones’ spin would be yet another downfall for himself at Kansas.

Yeah, I’m like, damn, Erik, come on now, your teammate is leading the race, don’t be causing cautions,” Truex said. “I’ve been in that boat before. Lucky for Erik, I didn’t screw up the last couple restarts.”

But no matter what, Truex – who remains in second place in the NASCAR Cup standings behind Kyle Larson after his win in Kansas – was a man bound and determined to avenge the past and finally achieve his destiny at a track that vexed him almost as much as the Wizard of Oz vexed Dorothy.

“You know, tonight we did everything right,” Truex said. “When the pressure was on, when the money was on the line, we made the right moves, and everything worked out.”

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Brad Keselowski sneaks his way to runner-up finish in Kansas

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With an interim crew chief and the help of three late cautions, Brad Keselowski was able to take his No. 2 Ford to the front Saturday night, earning a runner-up finish in the Go Bowling 400.

The Team Penske driver had an average running spot 15.95, but at the end of the night he had his seventh top five of the season.

He did it while being directed by engineer Brian Wilson, who was serving as interim crew chief for Paul Wolfe, who was serving the final race of his three-race suspension for a rules violation discovered after the March 19 Cup race at Phoenix.

“Brian’s done a great job, I would say,” Keselowksi told Fox Sports 1. “Two second-place finishes with him crew chiefing at the helm. I just wish we could have gotten a little bit more. I think we had a really good car and a shot at running with the front-runners.”

Keselowski started 17th and had one unscheduled pit stop for a loose wheel in the middle of the race.

“Every time we got up towards the front we had something go wrong,” Keselowski said. “Felt like if I had another 100 laps it would have been great.”

Watch the video for the full interview.

Martin Truex Jr. wins Kansas in shootout for second victory of year

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Martin Truex Jr. held his own in a two-lap dash to the finish to win the Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway.

After chasing down and passing Ryan Blaney with 33 to go, Truex had to fend off the field on three late restarts.

Finally, Truex outran Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick and Blaney to claim his second victory of 2017.

“These races are so hard to win, any of those restarts I could’ve gotten beat on,” Truex told Fox Sports 1. “Something could have happened. You just never know.”

UPDATE: Aric Almirola to be kept overnight in hospital after crash

The No. 78 Toyota started third and led six times for a race-high 104 laps. The car Truex took to Victory Lane was the same one he won with last year in the Southern 500.

“It felt like if I could get out front on those restarts I’d be fine,” Truex said. “If I came out second or third after a lap or two, it took me a long time to get good enough to pass those guys. I knew I had to go, I knew I had to make it happen.”

It’s the ninth career Cup Series win for Truex and it comes at the track closest to Furniture Row Racing’s headquarters in Denver, Colorado.

Truex joins Jimmie Johnson and Keselowski as the third repeat winner of the season.

Stage 1 winner: Kyle Busch

Stage 2: winner: Ryan Blaney

MORE: Race results

MORE: Truex takes lead in points

WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Blaney led 82 laps and finished fourth for best finish since running second in the Daytona 500 … Rookie Daniel Suarez finished seventh, tying his career best result (Phoenix, Auto Club) … Jamie McMurray finished eighth for his seventh top 10 of the season .. Kansas native Clint Bowyer came from the rear to finish ninth.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Landon Cassill brought out cautions on Lap 30 and 50 for getting into the wall. He finished 21st … Chase Elliott finished 29th, nine laps down after a pit road accident with Michael McDowell during the second caution period … With 86 to go, a violent three-car accident occurred between Joey Logano, Danica Patrick and Aric Almirola and caused a red flag. Almirola was placed on a backboard after being removed from his car and transported to a local hospital.

Erik Jones brought out three cautions for accidents, the last coming with eight laps left. He finished 22nd. … After being penalized on pit road and losing a tire mid race, Jimmie Johnson was fifth on a Lap 263 restart when contact with Kurt Busch sent him sliding onto the apron. He finished 24th.

Quote of the Night: “It was nice to show our muscle this weekend and prove that, like I said, this is where the 21 team deserves to be”  – Ryan Blaney after finishing fourth.

WHAT’S NEXT: Monster Energy All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway at 7:30 p.m. ET on May 20 on Fox Sports 1.