Martin Truex, Jr. kicked off the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs with a win in the South Point 400 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver methodically carved his road to victory by first winning the race’s second stage. He overhauled stage one winner Joey Logano with two laps left in the stage and kept the lead after an obligatory round of pitstops.

He briefly held the lead from Logano on the restart, but Chase Elliott pounced on both drivers on Lap 170 and took the lead with a three-wide pass.

He stayed on the point for 11 laps when the caution flew for a spin by his Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron.

The yellow brought the entire field down pit road and saw Denny Hamlin obtain the lead on the heels of a two tyre pitstop. Following him were the Ford trio of Ryan Blaney, Ryan Newman and outside-polesitter Daniel Suarez, who also only changed right-side tyres.

Harvick led the four tyre stoppers in fifth followed by Alex Bowman and Logano.

Blaney motored into the lead over Hamlin on the Lap 185 restart but only enjoyed the lead for two laps as Harvick blasted his way to the lead.

The action was slowed three laps later by another cut tyre – this time by Kurt Busch. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver pancaked Turn 3 wall while Joey Logano sustained damage when after Daniel Suarez slid into him and the pair hit the backstretch wall.

Logano pitted for repairs while the leaders stayed out with Harvick in the lead over Blaney, Newman, Truex, Jr and Hamlin.

The restart on Lap 195 saw Truex, Jr move into second while Harvick motored away. The 2014 series champion built up a four-second lead over Truex throughout the stint.

Blaney held onto third over Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski as Bowman reared up the top five.

Harvick and Truex pitted together on Lap 231 and a quick stop by Truex, Jr saw Harvick’s previously insurmountable lead almost completely evaporate.

William Byron, Kyle Larson and Matt DiBenedetto took turns up front before making their respective stops and handed the lead back to Harvick on Lap 247 with Truex hot on his tail.

Harvick could only watch as Truex roared by him on the backstretch a lap later and pull away from the pack.

The driver of the No. 19 Toyota Camry navigated a light case of lapped traffic but never faltered and took the checkered flag 4.173 seconds ahead.

Harvick claimed his first runner up spot of the season while Brad Keselowski finished third. Chase Elliott ended up fourth while Ryan Blaney rounded out the top five.

Alex Bowman led a Chevrolet sweep of the next three positions followed by William Byron in seventh and Kyle Larson ending up eighth.

Logano recovered from his mid-race incident to end up ninth while Ryan Newman rounded out the top ten.

 

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