Martin Truex Jr. dominates NASCAR race in Charlotte
CONCORD, N.C. (AP) — Martin Truex Jr. believes there are more dominant Sprint Cup days ahead, perhaps even all the way to a championship.
Truex led a Sprint Cup record 588 of 600 miles to win the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday night, NASCAR’s longest race of the year.
“It’s insane to think about that,” Truex said of leading 392 of 400 laps to win his fourth career race and first since Pocono last June. “Nobody else has ever done that. So many greats in this sport, so many huge accomplishments.”
Now, Truex is right there with all of them.
After finishing off the victory, Truex even apologized to Charlotte executive Marcus Smith. “I’m really sorry I stunk up the show,” the driver said, “but I wasn’t about the let off. I really wanted to get this win.”
The result was a spot back in the NASCAR’s season-ending Chase, where Truex made the final four a year ago with a shot to take the title at Homestead on the series’ final weekend.
“That’s all you can hope for,” he said.
Truex has been knocking on victory’s door all season long but hadn’t gone through until now. He was a few feet behind Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin at the end to finish second.
Truex led the most laps at Texas and Kansas this season, yet came up empty.
A sign his luck had changed at Charlotte? Crew chief Cole Pearn said Truex was about a lap from blowing a front tire when he came into the pits for a change, maintaining his large lead.
“I didn’t want to tell him,” Pearn joked.
It might not have mattered if Truex knew, especially with the powerhouse Toyota he had. He won the pole on Thursday, quickly grabbed the lead and barely gave it up. Truex said Jimmie Johnson passed him briefly at one point to lead “for about 100 feet,” he joked before retaking control.
Truex hopes he can build on this effort the rest of the season.