Martin Truex Jr.

Martin Truex Jr. Dominates at Kentucky

mencs_ks_victorylane_07082017
Photo by: Sarah Crabill

Martin Truex Jr. dominated Saturday night’s Quaker State 400, leading more than 150 laps and securing both Stage 1 and Stage 2 wins, before earning his third win of the season.

Truex held a 15 second lead on the final lap, but that diminished when the No. 41 of Kurt Busch blew an engine. The caution allowed the leaders to pit, but the No. 78 team elected not to.

“I thought we were dead,” Truex said. “I thought we were done.”

Truex could not be denied however, and with a push from Kyle Larson, he got by Kyle Busch and quickly extended his lead during the overtime finish.

“Fortunately (I was) able to hold them off. This thing was just so stout tonight. A good push from Larson (on the final restart) helped us a bunch.”

Larson finished second after starting in the rear of the field and overcoming a speeding penalty on Lap 88. Larson retains the series regular points standings lead, but only by one point over Truex.

A multi-car crash ended the day for seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson as well as and Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski, which also collected Clint Bowyer. 

Keselowski’s car got loose right after the start of Stage 2 that also sent the No. 14 spinning and Johnson in the wall. Johnson ultimately didn’t have anywhere else to go and sustained heavy damage to his Lowe’s Chevrolet.

Chase Elliott earned his sixth top-5 this season with a finish of third, followed by Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch.

Bubba Wallace earned a career best finish of 11th in his fourth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup start. Wallace has been substituting for the injured Aric Almirola, who is expected to return next weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The MENCS head to New Hampshire on Sunday, July 16, 2017 at 3 p.m ET on NBC Sports Network.

Martin Truex Jr. victorious in Las Vegas

NASCAR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Kobalt 400

Photo by: Jared C. Tilton

Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski controlled much of the Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The two combined for 239 laps led, but when Keselowski decelerated for a potential problem, the win was Truex’s for the taking.

Truex captured the win, but it was overshadowed by a post-race scuffle on pit road. After exiting his vehicle, 2015 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch went straight to the No. 22 pit stall of Joey Logano.

It is unclear if Logano was struck by the Joe Gibbs Racing driver, but after NASCAR officials broke up the exchange Busch emerged with blood on his forehead.

Logano and Busch made slight contact in the final two laps after dodging an off the pace Keselowski. Nevertheless, the contact sent the No. 18 sliding toward the entrance of pit lane. Busch avoided further damage and finished 22nd because of the incident.

“I got dumped,” Busch said afterward, “Flat-out just drove straight into the corner and wrecked us. That’s how Joey races, so he’s gonna get it.”

Logano didn’t seem phased by Busch’s reaction.

“We were just racing hard there at the end,” Logano said, “I was underneath him on the backstretch and he tried to crash me into the corner getting underneath Brad (Keselowski) there and at that point I was just trying get through the corner. I was sideways all the way through and got into him. Nothing intentional.”

“I’ve never had an issue with Kyle,” Logano continued. “Kyle and I have always raced really well together. We’ve never had an issue, but I guess that’s over.”

If Busch sticks to his word, what happens in Vegas may not stay in Vegas.

There was much to be celebrated for however, as Truex became the first driver to claim all three stages in a single event.

“We definitely had our share of races where we’ve dominated and gave one away, and it looked like today was going to be another one of those,” Truex said, “The runs just didn’t work out the way we needed them. We were struggling on the really long runs.”

The struggles turned into triumphant in the remaining laps for Truex, who earned his eight career Cup Series victory.

Truex may not have received all the glory despite a dominating performance, but he will take it for what it’s worth. After all, he knows all too well what it feels like to come short of reaching Victory Lane.

“It feels good to come out on the good end for once.”

Martin Truex Jr. tames the Monster Mile

Photo by: Sean Gardner

Martin Truex Jr. continued his dominance with his victory in the Citizen Soldier 400 at Dover International Speedway. Truex led the most laps of six drivers Sunday with 187 laps, scoring his third win within the last five races.

“I guess right now it’s just our time,” Truex said. “Throughout the summer, we led so many laps and had so many great race cars and so many great weekends that things would happen [and we’d lose].”

“Sometimes it was just rotten luck, sometimes it was mistakes or just circumstances that didn’t play out. But I think that the biggest thing is we just kept our heads in the game. We stayed focused on the things that truly matter, and when all that bad luck went away, here we are. I mean, it’s just been amazing.”

But right now that rotten luck has vanished for the time being, shifting to Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson. The Lowe’s Chevrolet team continues to stumble on mistakes that could have been prevented.

The No. 48 was hit with a penalty after a crewman went over the pit wall too early during a stop, forcing Johnson to return to pit road under green. Johnson battled back for a seventh place finish, but did not get the chance to contend for the win after leading 90 laps.

Johnson held a significant cushion to advance into the Round of 12. Those not as fortunate were Tony Stewart, Jamie McMurray, Kyle Larson, and Chris Buescher.

Both Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson failed to advance after being hit with their own misfortunes. McMurray suffered through a blown engine on Lap 193 after complaining of a vibration. Larson, who held the last advancing spot coming into Dover, finished 25th after hitting the wall.

Austin Dillon took advantage of the day, finishing eighth and advancing into the next round of the Chase. The driver remained focused during the race without worrying about where he stood in the Chase.

“I knew what we had to do.” He said.

The Round of 12 drivers head into Charlotte with a clean slate as the points reset to 3,000 each for the championship contenders. While there may be clear favorites, everyone is fair game and looking to lock themselves in early.

Martin Truex Jr. makes history at Charlotte

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600

Martin Truex Jr. dominated Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600. This time it led him into victory lane.

Truex broke records while making his way to the checkered flag. Truex led 392 of 400 laps, shattering Jim Paschal’s record of 335 laps in the 1967 event.

Truex led 588 miles which is a NASCAR record for one driver in any race. He also made a record for completing the event in the shortest time. He finished from the pole position in three hours, 44 minutes and eight seconds.

It’s just kind of sinking in now that we won the 600,” Truex said “It’s a big day. We’ve got the troops on the cars. It’s a special weekend. Just a lot of emotion right now. It’s a weekend you dream about.”

Truex’s win earns him a spot in the 2016 Chase for the Sprint Cup, where he could very well become a favorite for the title.

“Our goal was to get to victory lane; we did that,” Truex said. “Now we can focus on hopefully getting a few more and ultimately going back to Homestead with a shot at a championship and doing a better job than we did last year.”