LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Latest on NASCAR’s opening playoff race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (all times local):
Martin Truex Jr. has won the opening race of NASCAR’s playoffs to earn an automatic berth into the second round.
Truex’s victory Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was his series-best fifth of the season and again cemented Joe Gibbs Racing as the team to beat in this 10-race playoff series. JGR has 14 wins this season.
Truex chased down Kevin Harvick, who was slowed by traffic, to cut into Harvick’s lead and eventually make the pass for the win on the outside with 20 laps remaining.
Las Vegas was a brutal opener for a handful of title contenders, including Kurt Busch, who crashed when his tire went flat and he finished last in the field. Erik Jones had an earlier mechanical issue and finished four spots higher in 36th.
The top nine finishers were all playoff contenders as Truex was followed by Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, William Byron, Kyle Larson and reigning series champion Joey Logano.