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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, May 14, 2017 1:00 am

Wreck mars Truex's Kansas win

DAVE SKRETTA | Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Martin Truex Jr. finally ended his string of rotten luck at Kansas Speedway, pulling away from Ryan Blaney and Kevin Harvick on a late restart Saturday night to win the NASCAR Cup Series race.

Truex dominated the same event a year ago before a fluke problem during a tire change forced him to make an unscheduled pit stop and cost him the race. He's had plenty of other close calls at Kansas, always leading laps but never finding his way to victory lane.

Brad Keselowski made a pass on the final lap to take second, followed by Harvick and Blaney. Kyle Busch finished fifth after winning the Truck Series race Friday night.

The race was halted with 67 laps to go when a broken brake rotor turned Joey Logano's car into Danica Patrick, sending her hard into the fence in the first corner. Aric Almirola had nowhere to go and slammed into Logano, the force of the impact lifting his car into the air.

Logano and Patrick were treated and released from the infield care center, while Almirola was airlifted to the University of Kansas Medical Center. He was conscious and alert.

“I'm just saying prayers for Aric,” Logano said. “Something broke in our car. I don't know what it was. I noticed it going in and tried to back off, but you're going 215 (mph) and I hooked Danica.

“The right front hopped or something and it took a hard left.”

That hard left caught the right rear of Patrick, sending her into the wall. Her car burst into flames as it headed back across the track and finally came to rest along the apron, and Patrick quickly got out of her flaming car and marched away.

When Logano tried to speak to her, Patrick appeared to brusquely brush him off.

“I told him, 'I'm not sure if it was you, but I'm pretty sure it was you.' Then he said it was a failure of some sort, which didn't make me feel better in that moment,” Patrick said. “I hope Aric is OK. He's definitely feeling the worst of everybody.”

Almirola was running about 10 spots behind Logano and Patrick when the crash occurred. He tried to slam on the brakes and slow down, but he started getting sideways as he made impact. The debris that was scattered across the track caused a red flag, stopping the race for nearly 30 minutes.

Patrick and Logano were running just outside the top 10 with 67 laps to go.

“A lot of us took a hard hit,” Logano said. “That's the last thing you want to see.”

Overheating brakes had been a problem for several drivers Saturday night.

As for Patrick, it was the third time in four races that her night ended in a wreck. She also crashed out of the season-opening Daytona 500 and had engine trouble at Las Vegas.