NASCAR Cup Series regular-season champion Martin Truex Jr. completed only three laps in Sunday’s scheduled 267-lap Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway before a punctured tire sent him to the garage, plunging him in the playoff standings.
With one race remaining in the first round, Truex finds himself 13th in the standings, seven points below the cutline.
“I took off really tight and I knew something was up, and then cut a right rear,” said Truex, who finished last in the race won by Tyler Reddick. “Not really sure what happened, obviously, but it blew in the worst place possible. I was hoping it was going to go down on the straightaway, not going into turn three.
“In hindsight, I guess I should have just pitted, but at that point in time, you just don’t know if the car is just really tight or what’s going on.”
Final Caution Foils Hamlin
With 10 laps remaining in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway Denny Hamlin possessed a 2.619-second lead over Tyler Reddick, but then with six laps remaining Chris Buescher’s Ford hit the wall, changing the race’s complexion.
Two tires or four tires. That was the decision the crew chiefs faced. Daniel Suarez didn’t pit and inherited the lead. Erik Jones, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano took two tires. Hamlin took four tires as did Kyle Larson and Reddick. When they lined up for the restart, Suarez took the inside line as did Logano and Reddick. Jones took the outside line as did Hamlin.
Hamlin didn’t get a good restart and found himself playing catch-up the final two laps that belonged to Reddick.
“Just kind of sleeping on the restart, looking in the rear view instead of out the front,” said Hamlin, who led three times for 63 laps. “The 5 (Larson) was just laying back so much (for the restart). I was trying to back up to him. It gave the 45 an opportunity to get up there in front of us.”
Hamlin, who co-owned Reddick’s car with Michael Jordan, notes that racing is “a sport of chance at times.”
“Luck does play a factor, and we were unlucky to get that caution,” Hamlin says.
“We knew that there was going to be a handful of cars that was going to do the opposite of what we did. I think the right call was four tires.”
23XI Racing Dominates Kansas Speedway
Three of the last four NASCAR Cup races at Kansas Speedway have been won by 23XI Racing with the other one being claimed by the co-owner of the NASCAR Cup team.
Kurt Busch won the 2022 spring race at the 1.5-mile track driving the No. 45 Toyota while Bubba Wallace won last year’s fall race in the No. 45 car. Denny Hamlin won this year’s spring race at Kansas Speedway. That Toyota victory has now been followed up with another win by the No. 45 with Tyler Reddick at the wheel.
Hamlin notes that he and the team he co-owns work “really, really close together” and it’s proven beneficial to both.
“Typically, when we run well, that team runs well, and we’re learning as much from them as they’re learning from us,” Hamlin says. “It’s good to have multiple bullets in the gun when you’re in a late-race restart situation where you had one car dominating and then next thing you know you’re starting fifth and sixth. You’ve at least got a couple chances there to get the win.”
Two-Tire Change Gives Logano Top-5
With 10 laps remaining in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway, Joey Logano was staring at a 15th-place finish. Then with six laps remaining a yellow flag waved for Chris Buescher.
Crew chief Paul Wolfe called for a two-tire change during the caution period and that gave Logano fourth on the restart. When it came time to choose, Logano took the inside behind leader Daniel Suarez who had remained on the track. When the green flag waved, Logano and second-place Erik Jones split Suarez, Logano attempted to pass Jones on the inside, but he couldn’t pull ahead.
“I couldn’t quite clear him (Jones),” says Logano, who is 11th in the Playoff standings, 12 points above the cutline, heading to Bristol. “It just allowed (Tyler) Reddick to get a big run once we started getting swallowed up by the four-tire cars. You’re just on defense after that.”