Martin Truex Jr. wins Kentucky Cup race for second straight year

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Martin Truex Jr. led the final 44 laps to win Saturday’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway and claim his fourth Cup victory of the season.

Truex, who started on the pole, repeated his performance from this race last year, sweeping the first two stages before earning the win. He led 174 laps.

The Furniture Row Racing driver passed Kurt Busch with 44 laps to go and went unchallenged, beating Ryan Blaney by just under two seconds.

The top five was completed by Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick.

“We made it look easy last year but it certainly wasn’t,” Truex told NBCSN. “Hats off to my guys for stickin’ with me all year. We’ve really been working hard on these race cars, trying to figure them out.”

It is the seventh time Truex has swept the first two stages and the fourth time he has gone on to win. He last did it at Auto Club Speedway in March.

Truex’s win is the 13th combined consecutive victory on a 1.5-mile track for Truex, Harvick and Busch.

Despite winning a series record seven times on mile-and-a-half tracks last year in his title campaign, this is Truex’s first this season.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Martin Truex Jr.

STAGE 2 WINNER: Martin Truex Jr.

MORE: Point standings

MORE: Race results

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Despite a speeding penalty early, Brad Keselowski finished third after he took just two tires on his last pit stop. It’s his third top five since March. … Ryan Blaney earned his best finish of the season and his best result since earning his first Cup win in June 2017. … Kevin Harvick earned his first career top five at Kentucky in eight starts. It is his 14th top five through 19 races this season.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished 26th after pitting twice early in Stage 1, the first time for a cut tire. … Alex Bowman brought out the first caution for an incident when he lost a tire and hit the outside wall on Lap 110. He finished last. … JJ Yeley brought out the final caution Lap 208 when the engine on his No. 23 Toyota expired.

NOTABLE: Jesse Little finished 35th in his Cup debut.

WHAT’S NEXT: Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway at 2 p.m. ET on July 22 on NBCSN.