By SNASCAR.comSeptember 15, 2019
Martin Truex Jr. took the lead with 20 laps remaining in the South Point 400 and held on to collect the victory in the NASCAR Playoffs opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday.
Truex Jr. led 32 laps en route to his fifth win of the season, and the 24th of his career. He earns an automatic berth to the Round of 12 in the playoffs.
Kevin Harvick finished second in the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, 4.173 seconds behind Truex Jr. Brad Keselowski in the No. 2 Team Penske Ford, Chase Elliott in the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet and Ryan Blaney in the No. 12 Team Penske Ford rounded out the top five.
All 10 of the top finishers were playoff drivers.
In an intense race that started in 101-degree conditions, several playoff drivers encountered problems that potentially hurt their advancement chances in the three-race opening Round of 16.
Kurt Busch caused a caution on Lap 187 when the left front tire of his No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet went down and slammed hard into the outside wall. His car suffered enough damage to force him from the race. Busch initially made contact with Truex Jr. on the restart for the final stage to cause the tire rub that led to the wreck. He finished last in the 39-car field.
At the same time, Daniel Suarez slowed while driving in front of Joey Logano, making contact with the right outside of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford and causing substantial damage to the car that had led 105 laps and dominated the early part of the race.
Others among the 16-driver playoff field who encountered trouble included Erik Jones, who had trouble with his throttle on the Stage 2 restart, and his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was stuck in second gear, according to NBCSN. He came to pit road on Lap 87 for repairs, and then went to the garage. He returned to the track on Lap 102, but was 15 laps down — last in the 39-car field. He finished 36th.
Kyle Busch slammed into the wall on Lap 5, and had to pit six laps later for repairs on his No. 18 Toyota, forcing him a lap down. He rebounded, however, and finished 19th.