It took 204 laps, but Martin Truex, Jr. earned the 100th victory for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. by winning the NASCAR Busch Series Kroger 200 in front of a sell-out crowd at Indianapolis Raceway Park Saturday night. "This is great," expressed Truex,...
It took 204 laps, but Martin Truex, Jr. earned the 100th victory for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. by winning the NASCAR Busch Series Kroger 200 in front of a sell-out crowd at Indianapolis Raceway Park Saturday night.
"This is great," expressed Truex, Jr. "Everything worked out well tonight."
Truex pulled double duty this weekend along with Tony Stewart, Kenny Wallace, Mike Wallace and Carl Edwards. All five were excused from the drivers meeting at IRP because they were down the road at Indianapolis Motor Speedway qualifying their Nextel Cup cars for Sunday's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.
Stewart's helicopter landed just as the first car went out for a qualification attempt, thus each of the five drivers were able to make it in time to qualify their own car.
Nineteen year old Reed Sorenson was the 48th and final car to qualify and benefited from the cooler track temperatures. His top speed of 110.943 mph put his #14 Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge on the pole for the main event next to FitzBradshaw Racing's #14 Dodge piloted by David Stremme. This was Sorenson's second career pole in NBS, the rookie's first came at Nashville in March.
Rookie driver Tyler Walker got in one good qualifying lap in his #38 Akins Motorsports Dodge, but his engine let out heavy smoke on lap 2. His crew worked feverishly between the qualification run and the start call to successfully get the car ready to race for the one day event.
With the wave of the green flag, Sorenson took off with Stremme not far behind. The two were able to create distance from the pack and approached the back of the field on lap 15. Stremme kept up with Sorenson while they made their way through traffic.
Clint Bowyer was a man on a mission, moving his Richard Childress Racing #2 Chevy from the 8th starting position to take the lead from Sorenson on lap 50. But that lead was short lived as a caution was thrown on lap 52 when rain started to fall on the track.
Cars continued to run despite the showers and several, including the leaders took the opportunity to pit. Tony Stewart driving in the Kevin Harvick, Inc. #33 pulled his Chevrolet into the pits for new tires, but was black flagged for missing a lug nut and had to drive through pit road again putting him further back in the field.
Mark Green chose to stay out during the caution and took over the lead in his Keith Coleman Racing #23 Chevrolet. As the heavier showers continued, officials waved the red flag on lap 59 and the cars were lined up in pit lane with Green in front followed by Bowyer and Stremme.
An hour and a half delay ensued before the cars were started again and they rolled out for the standard laps under caution. Green gave up the lead to Bowyer when he needed to pit for fuel.
Finally the green flag flew on lap 73, Bowyer and Stremme battled nose to tail for the lead. The pair headed into traffic as the race reached the halfway point, 100 laps.
Yellow came out on lap 102 as Paul Wolfe and Boston Reid traded paint in turn four. Although it looked like Bowyer made contact with Reid, his car didn't show any damage and continued out front. A wave of pit stops followed under the caution and Truex, who had been running in fourth, exited pit road first placing his DEI #8 Chevy in the race lead.
The defending Busch champion Truex got a good run on the restart and pulled away from the pack. With 50 laps to go, Truex was comfortable in the lead followed by Bowyer, Sorenson and Jason Keller. Just as Truex was approaching heavy traffic, Tracy Hines spun his Dodge and brought out the yellow.
Green flag with 20 to go, Truex got another good restart. But the fast speeds didn't last long as several cars tangled in turn two leaving Tim Sauter and Carl Edwards with heavy damage. Stewart was also involved in the collision.
Once again on the restart Truex pulled away. Walker, who already had a rough day, rubbed the wall in turn 4 and brought out the last yellow of the race. Walker climbed from his car and limped off the track toward the pits until officials were able to coax him into the safety vehicle.
This late yellow set up a two lap shootout to the finish [NASCAR's green-white-checker rule]. The top three remained the same with Truex in command and Bowyer and Sorenson ready to pounce. Truex had another great restart and captured the checkered flag, his sixth Busch Series victory of the season and twelfth of his career.
Truex said he complained to his crew all afternoon about how bad his car was. "They just worked on it and got it better and better." Truex acknowledged "The last part of the race it was near perfect."
The celebration for Truex and DEI's 100th victory would have to wait until Sunday night. With Sunday's Nextel Cup race just hours away, Truex declared "My plan is to get out of here as soon as I can and go to sleep. No parties for me (tonight)."
The top three finishers are the top three in the championship chase. Bowyer sits second adrift of Truex Jr by 85 points, Sorenson is the top rookie and holds down third position.
The next Busch Series race is August 13th when the Zippo 200 is held at Watkins Glen International.