CONCORD, N.C. — Martin Truex Jr. may not have been the dominant car for the majority of Sunday’s Bank of America 500, but he and his crew found a way to overcome all obstacles en route to their sixth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win of the season.
After qualifying 17th, Truex worked his way into the top-10 by the end of the second stage and was a consistent frontrunner for the remainder of Sunday’s race, which reached its full distance and then some despite the threat of weather all afternoon long.
Though Kevin Harvick swept the first two stages and held the lead at the start of the final stage, Truex never gave in, taking the lead from Harvick for the first time at lap 234 following a cycle of green flag pit stops.
From there, it was duels with Harvick and Kyle Larson that characterized the remainder of the race for Truex and Furniture Row Racing.
A caution with 69 laps left sent the leaders down pit road right at the edge of their fuel window, with Larson winning the race off the lane and leading the field back to green ahead of Truex, Harvick and Jimmie Johnson.
Larson got the advantage on the restart, but a quick caution flew again with 56 to go, when a trouble-stricken Kyle Busch went for a long drift-spin off turn two to draw another yellow and send the leaders back down pit road.
That round of stops spelled disaster for both Larson and Johnson’s chances, as Larson’s rear tire changer tripped over the air hose and Johnson’s left-rear changer didn’t get all the lug nuts tight, leading to extended stops for both and dropping them out of contention for the win.
From there, it was Truex against Harvick as the laps ticked off the scoreboard, with Harvick throwing everything he had at the No. 78 to try and make the pass but getting loose and falling back each time.
A caution with nine to go changed everything, however, as Kyle Busch again hit the wall and dropped debris on the track, setting up a sprint to the checkered flag and casting doubt over Truex’s chances to hang on.
Truex erased those doubts by powering away over each of the final two restarts, including one in overtime, to capture his 14th career win, sixth of the season and first at his “second home” of Charlotte.
“This crew is the best there is,” said Truex, who only led 91 laps on Sunday. “I’m so lucky to get to do this … it’s just one of those weekends where there was a lot of pressure. We qualified horribly and I was mad about it. Cole (Pearn, crew chief) was mad about it and twenty minutes (later) we were like ‘Alright, I think this is where we went wrong. … We’ll get them Sunday.'”
“Today was a total team effort. Every single guy – every guy on this team just did a perfect job today, and I can’t be more proud of them. This is the time of the year when you want (perfection) to happen. You dream about days like today. I don’t know if we had the best car, but we damn sure got it to victory lane.”
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