Truex Jr sweeps stages and wins first race of 2018


It was Truex's first win of the 2018 season in the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota, and showed hints of 2017 when he achieved his first series championship. The defending NASCAR Cup Series champion lost the lead to Joey Logano early in the second stage.

Truex's effort in Sunday's race was every bit as overwhelming as his most convincing triumphs of last season.

Truex took the lead for good with 32 laps left by getting past Kyle Busch, who finished third. When are you going to win one of these stages?' said Truex, who went to Victory Lane eight times past year. "When are you going to win any stages?' Well, here you go".

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Truex's form, however, wasn't the overriding question entering the race.

Kevin Harvick's streak of three straight victories ended when he hit the wall after contact with Larson on the 37th lap.

But Harvick's bid came to an abrupt end on Lap 38, when contact with Larson's No. 42 Chevrolet under extremely hard racing sent Harvick's No. 4 Ford into the outside backstretch wall, crippling the auto.

Larson hit pit road on Lap 88 as the first to make a green-flag stop in Stage 2 and once again the move triggered a slew of others to do the same, hoping to cut the 60-lap segment in half.

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This two-mile superspeedway has hosted at least one Cup event annually since 1997. "We've got to go back".

Truex's only top five finish at the track came last season with a fourth-place finish.

Truex won back-to-back poles for the first time in his career Friday, following up his pole in Phoenix with another speedy performance.

"Not a flawless lap by any means, but we did what we had to do today", said Truex, who earned the pole at Fontana for the first time. "We had the same thing in practice, where the second round was just so much tighter than the first round". From there it was just about managing my tires and being smart.

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"At one point we fell back to fifth, and then we needed to work our way back up". For us, hopefully, we can get out front and get a big lead early in clean air and kind of get separated. His rivals shouldn't get too excited, however: Harvick set the track qualifying speed record at 188.744 miles per hour in the first round in his Stewart-Haas Racing Ford.