Martin Truex Jr. Wins in Las Vegas; Erik Jones Slips to 15th After Strong Performance
March 12, 2017
If you said that Martin Truex Jr. ran the table, produced a full house or hit the jackpot in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, you were right on all accounts. The Furniture Row Racing driver not only won the Kobalt 400 he also finished first in the two stage races (Lap 80 and Lap 160), earning the maximum number of standing points (60) — 10 for each stage win and 40 for the race win.
The two stage victories and the race win also gave Truex a total of seven playoff points – one for each stage win and five for the race victory. The playoff points carry through the first three rounds of the post-season.
Driving the No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota, Truex took the lead from Brad Keselowski with two laps remaining to claim his eighth career NASCAR Cup win and his his sixth as a Furniture Row Racing driver.
Truex led six times for a race high of 150 laps.
Truex gained three spots in the point standings and is currently ranked fourth, five points behind series’ leader Keselowski. Truex’s seven playoff points is the most of any driver after the first three races of the season.
“I can’t say enough about everyone on this team,” said Truex. “They made a lot of changes last night and we said go for it, and they did. I’m really proud – this is the first victory for the 2018 Camry and to be out here on the west coast – this is a big one for us! Tons of people to thank on our team, with Barney (Visser, team owner), Joe (Garone, team president), our crew here and at the shop, Furniture Row, Denver Mattress – my buddy Johnny Morris here for believing in us and coming on this car with Bass Pro and Tracker Boats. Proud of Toyota and TRD – these engines have been unbelievable this season so far. We have Auto-Owners coming back this year. And new to us this year are 5-hour ENERGY and WIX Filters. We never give up and that’s why you keep fighting until the end. Pit crew was unbelievable today and you have to thank them. It’s a dream come true driving these cars for these guys and hopefully we can keep this momentum going.”
Erik Jones, driving the No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Toyota, ran in the top 10 for the majority of the race, but the final pit stop was costly for the rookie driver. Jones was still the highest finishing rookie and so earned his second consecutive Sunoco Rookie of the Race award. He also moved up nine positions in the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series point standings and is now in the 20th position.
“The 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry was fast enough to run in the top 10 but we just didn’t execute in the pits,” said Jones. “We know we’re capable of running up front but we just have to make sure we execute as the race goes on. We can make up for those spots during the middle part of the race but once it comes down to the end it’s more difficult. I feel good about how we’ve run but I just want to get some strong finishes to match. We’re not getting the finishes we deserve so we just have to keep working at it.”
The next Cup race is Sunday, March 19 at Phoenix International Raceway.