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Thursday January 23rd, 2020 2:24AM

The Latest: Martin Truex Jr. wins 1st stage at Michigan

By The Associated Press
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BROOKLYN, Mich. (AP) — The Latest on the NASCAR Cup race at Michigan International Speedway (all times local):

4:12 p.m.

Martin Truex Jr. won the first stage of the NASCAR Cup race at Michigan International Speedway, rallying from inspection failures that forced him to start 38th and last.

He earned a playoff point for leading the race after 60 laps, making the 500th start of his career.

Shortly thereafter, pole sitter Brad Keselowski took the lead in the race again.

The woes for Jimmie Johnson continued early in the race. The seven-time champion made contact with a wall, damaging his right rear quarter panel and tire. He was forced to make a pit stop, which was not completed quickly because of the extensive damage.

___

3:25 p.m.

The Consumers Energy 400 has begun with a clean start.

Brad Keselowski was on the pole when the NASCAR Cup Series race began and stayed out front early in the 200-lap race.

Seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson is among the drivers, desperately trying to improve his position for the playoffs with just four races left in the regular season.

The race at Michigan International Speedway marked the 500th start in the career of Martin Truex Jr.

___

2:23 p.m.

Brad Keselowski is hoping to make pole position an advantage, helping him win at Michigan International Speedway in front of family and friends for the first time.

Keselowski will start out front Sunday afternoon in the Consumers Energy 400, one of four NASCAR Cup Series races remaining before the playoffs begin. The former series championship has 30 Cup victories, but hasn't won any of his 20 starts at MIS about 70 miles from his hometown in suburban Detroit.

Kevin Harvick will start second and will be followed by William Byron, Alex Bowman, Clint Bowyer and Chase Elliott. Points leader Kyle Busch will start 24th in the 38-car field.

Jimmie Johnson may have the most at stake on the 2-mile oval.

The seven-time champion qualified 12th and is desperately trying to earn a spot in the playoffs. He is tied with Ryan Newman for the 16th and final spot. Johnson has been in each postseason since the format was created 15 years ago.

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More AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/apf-AutoRacing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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