Truex wins first two stages, but misses out on Dover victory
Martin Truex Jr. won the first two stages at Dover International Speedway on Sunday — but not the segment that counted.
Truex picked up his seventh and eighth stage wins of the season and extended his points lead by nine over Kyle Larson.
But for the 11th time in his career, Jimmie Johnson tamed the Monster Mile and Truex settled for third behind Larson.
For Truex, who led the second most laps — 102, the turning point came when he pitted for tires on Lap 325. The No. 78 Furniture Row Racing car fell off the lead lap and had to battle for position over the remaining 75 laps.
“We had a good car and just got caught by that caution when we pitted and lost our shot at the win,” Truex said. “I don’t know that we had the best car, but we had a good car for sure and, you know? The 42 (Larson), the 48 (Johnson), us – I think we were all so close. Whoever it seemed like got out front was the best, but all in all, you know, it was a good day. Just not the finish we hoped for, but still when you’re this disappointed with third, it speaks volumes about your team and where you’re at and what’s going on, so I had a lot of fun out there today.
“I can’t even tell you how challenging this track was with these cars and this aero package and all that. I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count how many times I almost wrecked by myself, so it was a lot of fun. It was a challenge. We had to come through the field, which was difficult – says a lot about our car and our team and we’ll keep digging and try to get them next week.”
Running out of time
The additional three cautions in the closing laps helped Truex pick up real estate. He cycled back into the top 15 when the No. 78 team pitted again on Lap 354. With 40 laps remaining, Truex passed Harvick and was running ninth. Over the next 10 laps, Truex maneuvered his way back into the top five and was third when David Ragan his the wall with three laps to go.
“We ran out of time I guess,” Truex said. “We had to pass a lot of cars – came from a long way back – but that’s the way it goes I guess some days. We had a really good car all day and good track position. It seemed like if we could get in the lead, we could drive away from them and hold the lead, but just didn’t work out for us today. Got caught by that caution and had to come from the back. It was tough to do that, but a good call by Cole (Pearn, crew chief) to get tires there that last caution and that’s I guess the difference. We were able to pass some cars and make our way back up there.”
Racing Larson and Johnson
Truex, who was tied with Johnson and Brad Keselowski for most wins on the tour this season and has led the most laps (871), wasn’t sure whether he could have passed the Nos. 48 and 42 before the 10-car melee broke on Lap 406 in overtime.
“The 48 (Johnson) had such a good jump and I was third and I’d say probably not,” Truex said. “To pass the 42 (Larson) and to pass the 48 in two laps, it’s not going to happen. We were all so equal today it seemed like whoever or whichever one of us got our front could stretch it out, but all in all I had a lot of fun racing with those guys today.
“We ran hard. Everybody ran each other really hard and luckily it was clean and we never got into each other, but it was tough out there today. These things are a handful. The track was really, really rough and the cars were – I was so loose at times today. I don’t know how many times I almost thought I was going to crash, but hung on to it and made a good day out of it.”
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About this article
|Location||Dover International Speedway|
|Drivers||Martin Truex Jr.|
|Teams||Furniture Row Racing|