Martin Truex Jr. passed Kevin Harvick with 20 laps to go and cruised to a comfortable victory in the South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday night.
Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney made up the top five in the first race of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.Â
Truex capitalized on his opportunities Sunday to automatically qualify for the second round of the playoffs. Joey Logano dominated the early going, winning Stage 1 and leading 103 of the first 160 laps, butÂ Truex won Stage 2 after passing Logano with three laps remaining in the stage. Logano struggled to maneuver around lapped cars and Truex surged into first.Â The stage victory earned Truex bonus points.Â
A relative lack of cautions (four in all) meant the race was filled with green-flag pit stops. Just 17 drivers finished on the lead lap as a result, and a number of drivers held out as long as possible while the lead cars pitted. Matt DiBenedetto wound up leading nine laps in the third stage while the leaders had to go in for fuel and tires, but he eventually had to pit himself. HeÂ wound up finishing 21st overall and a lap down.
Truex quickly opened up an insurmountable lead after passing Harvick late in the final stage. He stretched his advantage to an insurmountable three seconds. Truex was especially strong navigating around slow cars.
Sporting News trackedÂ live race updates and highlights from the South Point 400 in Las Vegas. Follow along below.
|Finish||Driver||Team (Car No.)||Laps led|
|1.||Martin Truex Jr.||Joe Gibbs Racing (19)||32|
|2.||Kevin Harvick||Stewart-Haas Racing (4)||47|
|3.||Brad Keselowski||Penske Racing (2)||0|
|4.||Chase Elliott||Hendrick Motorsports (9)||12|
|5.||Ryan Blaney||Penske Championship Racing (12)||1|
|6.||Alex Bowman||Hendrick Motorsports (88)||0|
|7.||William Byron||Hendrick Motorsports (24)||6|
|8.||Kyle Larson||Chip Ganassi Racing (42)||2|
|9.||Joey Logano||Penske Racing (22)||105|
|10.||Ryan Newman||Roush Fenway Racing (6)||0|
|11.||Jimmie Johnson||Hendrick Motorsports (48)||0|
|12.||Austin Dillon||Richard Childress Racing (3)||0|
|13.||Aric Almirola||Stewart-Haas Racing (10)||3|
|14.||Paul Menard||Wood Brothers (21)||0|
|15.||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing (11)||3|
|16.||Ty Dillon||Germain Racing (13)||0|
|17.||Daniel Hemric||Richard Childress Racing (8)||0|
|18.||Chris Buescher||JTG Daugherty Racing (37)||1|
|19.||Kyle Busch||Joe Gibbs Racing (18)||0|
|20.||Daniel Suarez||Stewart-Haas Racing (41)||29|
Caution flags: 4
Lead changes: 24
10:09 p.m.:Â Truex captures his fifth win of 2019, easing to a victory in the first race of the playoffs. Harvick, Keselowski, Elliott and Blaney are the top five at the South Point 400.
10:04 p.m.:Â With eight to go, Truex remains in a comfortable lead with Harvick, Keselowski, Elliott and Blaney rounding out the top five.
10:03 p.m.:Â Kyle Busch worries he is going to blow a tire after making earlier contact with Garrett Smithley.
10 p.m.:Â Truex’s lead balloons to over two secondsÂ as he maneuvers around lapped cars with 17 to go.
9:58 p.m.:Â DiBenedetto goes in to pit with 20 to go. Truex passes Harvick for the lead.Â
9:55 p.m.:Â Matt DiBenedetto, Ty Dillon and Michael McDowell make up the top three but all need to pit. Harvick is fourth and Truex is fifth with 25 to go.
9:48 p.m.:Â Green-flag pit stops once again as the leaders come in. William Byron takes the lead with Elliott coming in to pit.
9:41 p.m.:Â Harvick maintains a lead of nearly four seconds overÂ Truex with Keselowski about 2.5 seconds behind him. Just over 50 to go.
9:32 p.m.:Â Pole sitter Clint Bowyer heads to the pits under the green flag after making contact with Paul Menard.
9:30 p.m.:Â Harvick takes green flag with Ryan Blaney and Ryan Newman in the top three.
9:26 p.m.:Â Logano’s crew works on the damage to his car and he comes out of the yellow flag in 13th with just over 70 to go.
9:19 p.m.: CAUTION. Â Kurt Busch hits the wall hard after his left frontÂ tire goes down. He appeared to make contact with Truex prior to the accident. Logano also has damage to his left front and right side.Â
9:17 p.m.:Â Green flag is back out on lap 186 with Denny Hamlin and Ryan Blaney in front.
9:13 p.m.: CAUTION. Leaders come in to pit after William Byron spins out in turn 4.Â
9:05 p.m.:Â Elliott moves into the lead ahead of Truex.Â
9:04 p.m.:Â Truex, Elliott and Harvick get stage 3 going after pitting.Â
8:53 p.m.: Truex capitalizes on Logano’s trouble lapping Matt DiBenedetto. He surges into the lead to get bonus points for winning Stage 2. Logano has led 103 of the 160 laps but won’t get credit for Stage 2 bonus points.
8:51 p.m.:Â Just 18 cars remain on the lead lap with three laps to go to the end of stage 2.
8:43 p.m.:Â Logano stays ahead after the pit stops. Martin Truex Jr. gains ground after coming in early to move into second and Chase Elliott remains in third.
8:32 p.m.:Â Second round of green-flag pit stops begin at lap 123 with 37 to go in stage 2.
8:23 p.m.:Â Logano extends his lead to more thanÂ 1.7 seconds over Byron. Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson and Aric Almirola follow to make up the top five.
8:16 p.m.:Â Erik Jones heads to the garage. He appeared to hit the wall on the restart.
8:13 p.m :Â William Byron leads lap 87, but Logano quickly takes it back first place.Â
8:03 p.m.:Â Logano wins Stage 1, which concluded at Lap 80. He’sÂ followed by Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola, Daniel Suarez and Austin Dillon in the top five.Â
7:52Â p.m.:Â Michael McDowell refrained from pitting as long as he could, leading 16 laps before pitting on Lap 60. Logano comes out as the leader after the first round of stops.
7:42 p.m.:Â First round of pit stops begins. Joey Logano surges into first place after starting the day 22nd.
7:33 p.m.:Â Daniel Suarez gets off to a quick start and remains the leader in the early going. Kyle Busch falls a lap behind after making contact with the wall.
7:20 p.m.:Â Clint Bowyer and Daniel Suarez battle for first as green flag is underway.
6:36 p.m.:Â Dale Earnhardt Jr. catches up with Marshawn Lynch before the race.