NASCAR at Auto Club Speedway results, standings: Martin Truex Jr. wins first race of 2018

Martin Truex Jr. won at Auto Club Speedway on Sunday to secure his first victory of the 2018 season. Last year's Cup Series champion dominated from start to finish, winning the pole and sweeping the stages. He is the only driver in NASCAR history to accomplish the feat. 

Truex still has work to do, however, if he wants to reach his totals from last season. In his championship effort, the No. 78 driver secured eight race victories and 19 green-and-white checkered flags. Nevertheless, with the race and stage triumphs, Truex clinches his spot in the playoffs and adds 7 points to his playoff total.

Leading the most overall laps, Truex was rarely challenged as he took home his first career checkered flag at the California track. Kyle Busch shuffled in and out of the lead at times, but got loose in the final stage before forfeiting the lead to Truex for good.

Kevin Harvick hoped to win his fourth consecutive race Sunday, but it wasn't meant to be. The Atlanta, Las Vegas and Phoenix winner got into it with Kyle Larson early in the first stage and wrecked hard into the wall. Harvick was able to keep his No. 4 on the track throughout the race's conclusion, but remained multiple laps down.

Auto Club 400 results

  1. Martin Truex Jr.
  2. Kyle Larson
  3. Kyle Busch
  4. Brad Keselowski
  5. Joey Logano
  6. Denny Hamlin
  7. Erik Jones
  8. Ryan Blaney
  9. Jimmie Johnson
  10. Austin Dillon
  11. Clint Bowyer
  12. Aric Almirola
  13. Alex Bowman
  14. Kurt Busch
  15. William Byron
  16. Chase Elliott
  17. Jamie McMurray
  18. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  19. Paul Menard
  20. Darrell Wallace Jr.
  21. Ryan Newman
  22. AJ Allmendinger
  23. Daniel Suarez
  24. Kasey Kahne
  25. David Ragan
  26. Michael McDowell
  27. Ty Dillon
  28. Cole Whitt
  29. Ross Chastain
  30. Chris Buescher
  31. Matt DiBenedetto
  32. Gray Gaulding
  33. Timmy Hill
  34. Reed Sorenson
  35. Jeffrey Earnhardt
  36. Trevor Bayne

2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings

POSITION

DRIVER

CAR #

POINTS

BEHIND

WINS

1.

Martin Truex Jr.

78

216

LEADER

1

2.

Kyle Busch

18

207

-9

0

3.

Joey Logano

22

197

-19

0

4.

Brad Keselowski

2

183

-33

0

5.

Ryan Blaney

12

181

-35

0

6.

Denny Hamlin

11

176

-40

0

7.

Kyle Larson

42

174

-42

0

8.

Kevin Harvick

4

170

-46

3

9.

Clint Bowyer

14

155

-61

0

10.

Aric Almirola

10

148

-68

0

11.

Kurt Busch

41

144

-72

0

12.

Austin Dillon

3

141

-75

0

13.

Erik Jones

20

132

-84

0

14.

Ryan Newman

31

117

-99

0

15.

Paul Menard

21

115

-101

0

16.

Alex Bowman

88

115

-101

0

If you missed any of the action from Sunday's race, don't worry -- we've got you covered. For highlights, analysis and more, please check out our live blog below in addition to our full race recap. 

Stage 1: Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson get tangled up

Truex Jr. got off to a hot start while Hendrick Motorsports drivers Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman worked their way through the field after starting from the rear. Kyle Busch took the lead from Truex 10 laps into the race.

Green-flag pit stops began on Lap 30 as drivers cycled through with no issues. Logano hit pit road first and gained four spots, moving up from seventh to third when all things were said and done. Busch remained the race leader briefly before Truex took it back.

Harvick seemed to make the right adjustments during his pit stop, passing Logano and moving into third halfway through the stage. Harvick then engaged last year's winner, Larson, in a heated battle for position. However, he saw his chances at a fourth consecutive victory go up in smoke when that battle with Larson turned into a wreck. It appeared as though Harvick got loose and turned into Larson, sending the No. 4 into the wall with considerable damage. 

Truex emerged from the wreckage as the race leader over Kyle Busch. Ryan Blaney made light contact with the wall with just under 15 to go, but it wasn't enough to create significant damage. Johnson finished his climb to the front after starting from the back of the pack, cracking the top five toward the end. Truex created separation with blistering fast times and easily won the stage.

Stage 1 results

  1. Martin Truex Jr. (10 points plus 1 playoff point)
  2. Kyle Busch (9 points)
  3. Joey Logano (8 points)
  4. Brad Keselowski (7 points)
  5. Jimmie Johnson (6 points)
  6. Kyle Larson (5 points)
  7. Kurt Busch (4 points)
  8. Erik Jones (3 points)
  9. Clint Bowyer (2 points)
  10. Denny Hamlin (1 point)

Stage 2: Truex continues domination 

Logano won the race off pit road after Stage 1 and led the field to green to begin Stage 2. About 15 laps into the stage, Truex passed Logano and retook his spot atop the field.

Larson started green flag pit stops 30 laps into the stage after feeling a vibration in his car. Truex and the field followed just a few laps later. Kyle Busch stayed out longer than the field but eventually came down. Truex had no problem cycling back to the lead under green.

Trevor Bayne hit the wall and brought out the caution with 11 laps to go in the stage. It appeared that Bayne lost a tire and lost control of his vehicle, ending his day. More importantly, this closed the gap on Truex's massive lead, setting up a closer end to the stage than anticipated.

Truex won the race off pit road under yellow and restarted from the lead. Despite a push from Keselowski, the No. 78 was able to drive on and take the second stage as well. 

Stage 2 results

  1. Martin Truex Jr. (10 points plus 1 playoff point)
  2. Brad Keselowski (9 points)
  3. Kyle Busch (8 points)
  4. Denny Hamlin (7 points)
  5. Erik Jones (6 points)
  6. Joey Logano (5 points)
  7. Jimmie Johnson (4 points)
  8. Kyle Larson (3 points)
  9. Clint Bowyer (2 points)
  10. William Byron (1 point)

Final Stage: Truex wins battle with Busch to take the checkered flag

Kyle Busch led Truex and the field to green for the Final Stage. Very early on, Jimmie Johnson fell back into traffic and nearly lost control, but was able to recover rather quickly. Before Johnson could slide anymore, David Ragan brushed the wall and brought out the caution.

William Byron opted to take two tires and won the race off pit road. Kyle Busch was the fastest off for those who took four tires, while Martin Truex Jr. had a slow stop and lost position. After taking the green flag, Byron forfeited the lead to Kyle Busch and fell back. Busch used clean air to his advantage as he continued to build a lead over Truex.

Matt DiBenedetto hit the fall with 50 to go but didn't spread enough debris to bring out the caution. DiBenedetto was able to take his car down onto the apron before hitting pit road under green. With 40 to go, Kyle Busch began to lose grip and Truex took over the lead. 

Both Busch and Truex pit together under green, with Busch winning the race off pit road and reclaiming the lead. It wasn't the strongest day for the No. 78 team getting out of the pit box on Sunday, losing spots multiple times throughout the race. Truex would recover however when Busch got loose with 31 laps to go, opening the door for the No. 78 to get back out front. The rest was history as Truex went on to take the checkered flag. 

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