Martin Truex, Jr. didn't have a perfect race at Daytona International Speedway. But, at the end of the night, smart calls in the pits and a Chevy with superior horsepower brought Truex to victory lane for the fourth time this season. Truex was...
Martin Truex, Jr. didn't have a perfect race at Daytona International Speedway. But, at the end of the night, smart calls in the pits and a Chevy with superior horsepower brought Truex to victory lane for the fourth time this season.
Truex was the class of the field Friday night at the 2.5-mile superspeedway. He passed car owner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. at the races one- third mark and was a formidable foe for the few cars that challenged him throughout the rest of the night.
The No. 8 Chevy of Truex was shuffled back to ninth during a late race pit stop but Truex would not be denied. Within three laps Truex wheeled from ninth back to first. Truex checked out to a considerable lead when another caution with nine laps to go bunched the field back together.
When the race restarted at lap 92 Truex did not have a friend in the draft and the 2nd and 3rd cars of Kevin Harvick and Greg Biffle hooked up and powered past. Luckily, Truex's teammate Menard caught up with the No. 8 Chevy and gave Harvick and Biffle a run for the money.
Truex finally passed Harvick and pulled out to a good lead when on lap 98 the 'big one' broke out red flagging the race and setting up a green/white/checker finish. With two to go, Truex had to work to block Harvick from passing to earn his 10th career win.
"Awesome," said Truex. "I was worried there on the restarts, Harvick no matter how slow I went he got a run on me. It was a little close when I came down in front of him and he got into me a little bit. I am sure he is not too happy about it.
"But we won Daytona. This is awesome. I finally signed my contract before the race started (renewal with DEI) maybe that was what we needed.I figured it would be good luck if I didn't tell anyone until after the race."
Harvick settled for second.
"He (Truex) ran me down below the yellow line," Harvick said. "What do you do? Last lap coming to the checkered, that's good racing."
Nextel Cup point leader Greg Biffle was third.
"The Ford's are just a little slow on these restrictor plate tracks," said Biffle. "I was just trying to stay out of everyone's way and help out Kevin, but there wasn't a lot I could do with him."
Kenny Wallace and Joe Nemechek complete the top five.
Kevin Harvick led the field to the green flag but did not stay out front long as the DEI cars of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Martin Truex, Jr. powered past for the lead. Earnhardt led about thirty laps before Truex passed him for the top spot.
Truex did not need to pit but chose to pit with teammate Earnhardt at the races midway point. A caution a few laps after their stops trapped the duo back in 27th and 28th until cars cycled through for stops.
"I figured we weren't going to loose a lap," said Kevin Manion, Truex' crew chief. "Our teammates have been very helpful, so I thought it was best to stay with them."
When all was said and done, with 38 laps to go, the three DEI cars of Truex, Earnhardt and Paul Menard were out front. Truex was leading at lap 80 when Menard tagged the rear of Earnhardt's ride turning the No. 81 Chevy.
Earnhardt reported that he had blown the engine and promptly brought his Chevy to pit road.
"It quite running in the middle of the corner and I looked up and thought I got a lot of corner left," said Earnhardt. "I didn't know how I was going to get out of those guys way, and I couldn't. I don't think there was smoke so they couldn't see what was going on.
"Just lucky I didn't spin out in front of anybody or hit anybody and take anybody with me. We were able to get down pit road and get out of harms way so these guys can keep racing."
The third yellow brought the leaders to pit road for service but a long stop by the No. 8 team of Truex put Denny Hamlin into the lead on the restart with Truex in ninth. Truex, however, was on four fresh tires in contrast to Hamlin's two quickly powered to the front
Truex led when a melee involving Reed Sorenson, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin and nine others erupted with two laps to go. Despite a red flag and a green/white/checker finish, the DEI power plant of Truex held off the competition to earn the win at the Winn-Dixie 250 at DIS and take the time to dispel rumors of his departure from DEI next season.
"I'm going to drive one of them, probably the one car," said Truex of which car he will drive. "We got Bass Pro Shops signed on again for the next couple of years. Right now we are going to go after this championship and worry about that next year."
Truex continues to lead Busch series point standings. Clint Bowyer (-71), Reed Sorenson (-94), Carl Edwards (-214) and Kenny Wallace (-217) complete the top five.
There were 13 lead changes among eight drivers and five cautions for 17 laps.