SPARTA, Ky. (July 16, 2018) – Martin Truex Jr. led Toyota to a winning weekend after dominating at Kentucky, while Toyota also landed victories in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, USAC, POWRi and LOORRS.
Camry driver Martin Truex Jr. scored his fourth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win of the season at Kentucky Speedway on Saturday night to give Toyota 10 wins through 19 races in 2018.
Truex led the field five times for a race-high 174 laps (of 267) and won the first two stages before taking the checkered flag and winning back-to-back wins at the Sparta, Kentucky, track.
“You never know quite what is going to happen and we had such a strong Toyota tonight they weren’t going to beat us,” said the defending NASCAR champion. “You never know how they’re going to turn out, so we just keep our heads down. We don’t get too excited. We keep working on the race car and trying to stay calm and not get ahead of ourselves, so we had to make a lot of adjustments tonight on the car and had to battle back a from a few times getting passed for the lead and coming out of the pits second or third, but this Auto-Owners Toyota was amazing tonight, so just thanks to everybody for their support and making all this possible – Toyota, TRD (Toyota Racing Development), Bass Pro, 5-Hour, Auto-Owners of course being our primary tonight and so many people make this possible.”
Truex started from the pole position for the Kentucky race, while his Toyota teammate Erik Jones, who finished seventh, started second. Camry driver Kyle Busch also tallied a top-10 finish at Kentucky with a result of fourth.
In the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Camry driver Christopher Bell captured his second victory of the season when he won at Kentucky Speedway after starting from the rear of the field on Friday night. Through 17 races, Bell is tied for the series lead in wins and has accumulated 12 Playoff points.
“Man, it was extremely difficult,” said Bell. “Starting in the back there, I knew my car was going to handle a little bit different than what it would at the front and all throughout practice I knew that we were – my car that was capable of racing for the win, but when we started in the back, man, it just drives so different back there and the guys kept getting good pit stops and we’d gain a spot here, gain a spot there, get a good restart and next thing you know we’re up there racing at the front and it’s driving totally different and keep telling myself, ‘We’ve got a shot at this thing,’ and just really proud of this team, everyone at Rheem, Ruud, GameStop, Toyota, TRD (Toyota Racing Development), all the people at Xfinity that help put this series on.”
Three Tundra drivers placed inside the top-10 at Kentucky in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series contest Thursday night with Brandon Jones (fourth), Todd Gilliland (seventh) and Noah Gragson (eighth) all having strong outings.
Gilliland, who is vying for a Playoff spot with four races remaining in the regular season, is looking to have better finishes to his races.
“It was a tough one for sure,” said Gilliland. “We just – we lost spots on pit road and we lost spots on every restart and just I’d say not my best race by far as far as everything I’d say. I didn’t get in the box good. You know, just overall, but we’ve got a clean Tundra and so we can kind of go back now I guess and kind of regroup and see what we’ve got now. It sucks to run like this, but we had a pretty good run in the first stage there, so I guess you can just look at the positives and you’ve just got to be the guy that’s there at the end, not the beginning.”
Toyota drivers swept the top-three positions in Saturday’s NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (NKNPSE) race at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park with Tyler Ankrum capturing the win and Dillon Bassett and Tyler Dippel placing second and third, respectively.
The win was Ankrum’s second of the year. He remains first in the NKNPSE standings and has finished top-10 or better in all eight races this season.
Three Toyota drivers finished inside the top-five on Saturday at Elko Speedway in the ARCA Racing Series contest including Christian Eckes (second), Riley Herbst (fourth) and Natalie Decker (fifth).
Prior to race at Elko Speedway, Toyota drivers had won 12-consecutive ARCA races to start the 2018 season.
After 13 races, Toyota drivers own the top-four spots in the ARCA standings including current points leader Sheldon Creed, Zane Smith (second), Herbst (third) and Chase Purdy (fourth).
Logan Seavy powered Toyota to the USAC Mid-American Midget Week title that spanned across four races throughout last week.
Christopher Bell kicked the USAC Mid-American Midget Week campaign off with a win on Wednesday at Red Dirt Speedway in Meeker, Oklahoma. The win was Bell’s fifth national midget feature win and 49th career victory.
Later that evening, Seavy (runner-up), Jason McDougal (fourth) and Tanner Carrick (fifth) would all score top-five finishes in the second round of the USAC Mid-American Midget Week at Solomon Valley Raceway in Beloit, Kansas. Seavy would produce another runner-up finish as Toyota’s highest-finishing driver in Saturday’s third-round race at Jefferson County Speedway in Fairbury, Nebraska.
In the USAC Mid-American Midget Week finale at Sweep Springs Motorsports Complex in Missouri, it was Seavy who would capture a win and earn the Mid-American Midget Week crown for Toyota. The victory is the second of the season for Seavey in USAC competition and his fifth overall national midget feature win in 2018. The 21-year-old USAC national point leader will make his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut in a Toyota later this week at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway.
“We ran second every night this week and it was frustrating,” said Seavey after three-consecutive, runner-up finishes. “I was just trying to get a run at the top, and I was able to sneak under him. I was down before the feature, but I had a lot of fun out there. In the other races I was leading early, but it’s a huge advantage to run second and you’re able to find the best line. Thanks to everyone at KKM, Toyota and Mobil 1.”
Seavey’s win is the 25th national midget feature victory this year for Toyota with six of those coming in USAC competition.
In a POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League double header at Valley Speedway over the weekend, Toyota drivers produced multiple podium finishes in MIssouri.
Tucker Klaasmeyer led Holly Shelton and Zach Daum across the finish line in a Toyota 1-2-3 finish at the Friday night feature. With her second-place finish, Shelton became the highest-finishing woman ever in a national midget feature on dirt, surpassing her third-place finish at Lawrenceburg set last year.
Teammates Ryan Robinson and Shelton placed second and third, respectively, in the second feature Saturday.
Klaasmeyer’s win was the fifth of the season for the Paola, Kansas-native and the 24th national midget feature win for a Toyota-powered driver this year. It also marks the 15th for a Toyota driver in 18 POWRi events this season.
Following the second feature at Valley Speedway, Klaasmeyer continues to lead the championship, but saw his point lead dwindle to just 30 points over teammate Robinson, with Daum in third.
Toyota driver Johnny Greaves swept both PRO 4 races in the Lucas Oil Midwest Short Course Series double-header at the ERX Motor Park in suburban Minneapolis this weekend.
In Friday's event, he led son CJ Greaves in a one-two Tundra finish and then took the checkered flag again on Saturday with CJ finishing fifth.
Johnny has now won both points races, as well as the Potawatomi Brush Run, since CJ won the season-opener in Crandon. He currently holds a nine-point advantage over CJ in the championship race.
It’s a quick turnaround for NASCAR as the Truck Series readies for one of the most exciting races of the season at Eldora Speedway on Wednesday, July 18 at 9 p.m. ET on FS1.
The NASCAR Cup Series, Xfinity Series and K&N Pro Series East head to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for a packed weekend of racing. The NASCAR Cup Series will run Sunday, July 22 at 2 p.m. ET on NBCSN, while the Xfinity Series will race Saturday, July 21 at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN. The K&N Pro Series East race will air tape-delayed Wednesday, July 25 on NBCSN at 6 p.m. ET.
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series is back this week and will race at Bandimere Speedway in Denver, Colorado on Sunday, July 22 at 3 p.m. ET on FOX.
The ARCA Racing Series is slated for evening race at Berlin Raceway Saturday, July 21 at 9 p.m. ET on MAV-TV.
Lisa Hughes Kennedy