Local Son Truex Snags Second NASCAR Victory of Season at Darlington
With 29 laps to go in the Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina, Martin Truex Jr. snatched the lead from Ryan Newman and never looked back, going on to grab his second victory of the season and fifth of his NASCAR career.
Heading into the frontstretch during lap 339 on Sept. 4, the Stafford Township native made a move to the inside of Newman and sped past him, then gradually extended his lead during the final 28 laps. Still, Kevin Harvick, who led from lap 273 through 280 before getting caught up on Pit Road and losing his lead to Newman, charged back into the second position in an attempt to run down Truex.
But with a lap to go, Truex’s lead was almost a second ahead of Harvick and he crossed the line at the checkered flag in first. It seems Truex enjoys winning races on holiday weekends – his first victory of the season occurred during the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Speedway over Memorial Day weekend.
“This is unbelievable,” Truex said after the race on Victory Lane. “I’ve always loved this racetrack. I’ve led a lot of laps here in my career. Something always happened, but I’m just so proud to get to Victory Lane with this group. The pit crew was flawless tonight. They won us this race. They took a lot of heat from last week with what happened. But it was just a big weekend for us.”
During the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Aug. 28, Truex took the lead from Harvick on lap 58, only to lose that lead during a green-flag pit stop on lap 65, after his pit crew had some issues getting the No. 78 car back onto the track and in the process damaged the left-rear quarter panel, ultimately leading to a 20th-place finish.
At Darlington, there was no such “terrible bad luck,” as Truex called it during the post-race interview. Instead, Truex heads into Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway in great shape for a run at the Sprint Cup championship.
Right now, the Furniture Row Racing driver and 1998 Southern Regional High School graduate sits in the eighth spot in the standings with 696 points, 144 back of Harvick, who leads with 840. Between Harvick and Truex are Brad Keselowski (797), Joey Lagano (752), Carl Edwards (746), Denny Hamlin (729), Kurt Busch (728) and Kyle Busch (727).
The Sprint Cup Chase for the Championship begins with the Round of 16 on Sept. 18 during the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. The 10-race Chase ends with the Championship Four on Nov. 20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the Ford Ecoboost 400.
The 36-year-old Truex, who’s from the Mayetta section of Stafford Township, has five top-10 finishes during the last 10 Sprint Cup races.
— David Biggy