MENCS: Martin Truex Jr. wins playoff opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Martin Truex Jr. began the 2019 NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series playoffs with a win in Sunday nights race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Driver No. 19 passed Kevin Harvick with 20 laps to go in the final stage and would stay in command of the lead to the finish.

For Truex, Sunday’s win marks his fifth victory of the season.

“We took a gable and qualified 24th” Truex told NBCSN post-race. “For a while there it wasn’t looking too smart with Harvick out front. Got the right adjustments at the end. Had a great car all day long.”

With his win on Sunday, Truex has now won the first race of the playoffs in three out of the last four years.

Rounding out the top five were Kevin Harvick in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Chase Elliott in fourth and Ryan Blaney in fifth.

Harvick finished runner-up after leading 47 laps of the race.

“We were way off after we got there this week,” Harvick told NBCSN post-race. Kept working. We qualified well and it wasn’t where we wanted when we started the race. We got stage points and led there late and gave us an opportunity. Martin was just so much better on the second half of the run.”

Playoff drivers rounded out the top 10. Alex Bowman finished sixth, William Byron finished seventh, Kyle Larson finished eighth, Joey Logano finished ninth and Ryan Newman finished tenth.

Kyle Busch, who won the regular season championship, finished 19th. Driver No. 18 had to pit on Lap 12 after making contact with the wall in the beginning of the race and would fall to two laps down. Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Erik Jones finished 36th after he went to the garage at the beginning of the second stage after his transmission got stuck in second gear.

Kurt Busch finished 39th after he cut his left-front tire after making contact with Martin Truex Jr. on a restart.

Clint Bowyer, who started on the pole, finished 25th.

The second race of the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series playoffs will take place with the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Eastern on NBCSN.

Stage 1 Winner: Joey Logano

Stage 2 Winner: Martin Truex Jr.

Race Winner: Martin Truex Jr.


Playoff Standings

1. Martin Truex Jr. (Win)

2. Kevin Harvick, +52 points above cutoff

3. Joey Logano, +48

4. Kyle Busch, +36

5. Brad Keselowski, +31

6. Chase Elliott, +30

7. Denny Hamlin, +29

8. Kyle Larson, +17

9. William Byron, +13

10. Ryan Blaney, +12

11. Alex Bowman, +11

12. Aric Almirola, +6

13. Ryan Newman

14. Kurt Busch, -14 points behind cutoff

15. Clint Bowyer, -21

16. Erik Jones, -26