Martin Truex Jr. Makes NASCAR History En Route To Coca-Cola 600 Victoryby Hunter Thomas May 30, 2016 0 comments
CONCORD, N.C. – Martin Truex Jr. led more miles than any other driver in NASCAR history to win Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
In an absolutely dominating performance, New Jersey native, Truex Jr. started from the pole and led 392 of the 400 laps on Sunday. The incredible feat equals out to be 588 miles in which Truex Jr., driver of the No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Toyota was ahead and leading the 40-car field. The effort marks Truex Jr.’s first win since June 7, 2015, when he went to Victory Lane at Pocono Raceway. This season, the Furniture Row Racing driver has accumulated one win, two top-five and six top-10 finishes.
“It feels awesome,” Truex Jr. said. “Coca-Cola 600, man, this is one everybody wants to win,” Truex Jr. said. “I feel like we had this thing won last year when we gave it up and just I don’t know. There are so many emotions, I had to unplug my radio and just ride around and think for a few minutes, because I didn’t even know what I was going to say or what I was going to do. Just we’ve been through a lot as a group. I’ve been through a lot personally. I’ve been through a lot with Sherry (Pollex, girlfriend) and just it’s fun to have her here and have her celebrate and it’s just – happy for my guys, happy for Barney (Visser, team owner), Toyota, everybody that helps us do this.”
Kevin Harvick finished second after starting eighth. The driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet ran inside the top-10 all race long, but it took about 300 laps for his car to come alive as he began battling with the leaders. Kevin Harvick continues to lead the championship point standings by quite a large margin. He is 36 points up on his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate, Kurt Busch.
“I’m just really, really happy with ‑‑ when you’re able to take a 10th‑place car at best, for the first 450 miles and make adjustments on it, those are huge gains,” Harvick said. “I was just happy we were competitive at the end of the race. We didn’t have the fastest car, obviously. It seemed like the 78 must have led the whole race. Those guys definitely have had some fast cars this year, and tonight definitely had the dominant car.”
The only driver to appear to come even remotely close to overtaking Martin Truex Jr., was Hendrick Motorsports’ Jimmie Johnson, who finished third. Nearly the entire race, Johnson ran inside the top-three, chasing Truex Jr. Johnson even led five laps, but the seven-time winner at Charlotte Motor Speedway said that he had one of the best cars that he had ever had at the track; however, the team just came up a little short on earning the victory.
“It’s nice when you have a car like that,” Johnson said. “I’m so proud of the effort we put in tonight. This is the best car I’ve had in Charlotte for a long time. It just shows you how good that No. 78 was and the No. 4 got a little bit better than us at the end. I thought we had a chance at them a few times, a couple of times on the long run we would get close. A couple times on the restarts we would get close, but all-in-all a very strong performance for this Lowe’s Chevrolet. Very proud of the team work and the support that we have from all the employees at Lowe’s. Just came up a little short today.”
Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski completed the top-five. Rounding out the top-10 was Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano and Ryan Newman.
Throughout the night there were only four cautions, resulting in the fastest Coca-Cola 600 in the 57-year history. The race was completed in a record breaking 3 hours, 44 minutes and 8 seconds. The average speed was 160.644 mph.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits Pocono Raceway on Sunday, June 5 for the Axalta ‘We Paint Winners’ 400. Coverage for the race will broadcast live on Fox Sports 1 (FS1) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 1 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas