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Truex pulls away on final restart to win at Pocono

Associated Press • Jun 3, 2018 at 5:54 PM

LONG POND, Pa. — Martin Truex Jr. pulled away off a restart with seven laps left to win the NASCAR Cup race at Pocono Raceway on Sunday and thrust himself back into the championship picture.

Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick had turned the season into a two-driver show, winning nine of the first 13 races. Each driver spent time in front and battled for the lead over the final laps until the final restart on the 2½-mile track.

Truex showed why he’s still a threat to win his second straight title.

He took the checkered flag in the No. 78 Toyota after two straight runner-up finishes in a season in which he was almost an afterthought compared to the Busch-Harvick dominance.

“I think three of those guys are head over heels better than the rest of us,” Kyle Larson said.

Larson wasn’t so bad himself. He finished second Sunday, followed by Busch and Harvick. Brad Keselowski was fifth.

Busch won the Xfinity Series race Saturday to help Toyota sweep the weekend.

But Pocono belonged to Truex and he won his 17th career Cup race.

“I hope they got a lot of Yuengling in victory lane,” he said over the radio about the Pennsylvania beer. “We’re going to drink it all!”

He had it sprayed on him instead in victory lane.

“I feel like we’re getting back to what we were doing last year,” Truex said. “It’s always fun to win, especially when you beat the best guys out there.”

Harvick led 89 laps and Busch led 13. Truex led 31 overall and the final 20 to celebrate at the same track where he won his first race for Furniture Row Racing in 2015.

JOHNSON IN FIRST

In the stunning stat department, seven-time Jimmie Johnson led his first laps of the season in the first stage. Johnson, who led as many as 2,238 laps in a season in 2009, was in first for the first time since Martinsville in the 33rd race last season.

Johnson finished eighth and extended the longest losing streak of his career to 37. It’s been a year since he last won — June 4, 2017, at Dover.

BUBBA SLUMP

A year after he made his Cup debut at Pocono, Darrell Wallace Jr. was the first car to the garage on Sunday. He appeared to blow the engine when he missed a shift and his Chevrolet rolled to the garage for his first DNF of the season.

HAMLIN HIT

Denny Hamlin spun the No. 11 Toyota and slammed into the inside wall late in the race and failed to finish a race for the second time this season. Hamlin remains winless, though he had built a modest streak of three straight top-10 finishes.

UP NEXT

The series shifts to Michigan where Larson is the defending race winner. Larson is winless this season.

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