Martin Truex Jr. Takes Furniture Row Racing Back To Victory Lane At Darlingtonby Hunter Thomas September 5, 2016 0 comments
DARLINGTON, S.C. – Martin Truex Jr. charged hard in the closing laps of the Bojangles’ Southern 500 to win his first race at Darlington Raceway.
Furniture Row Racing’s first win came at Darlington Raceway in 2011, and now five years later, Truex Jr. was able to send the team that’s based out of Colorado back to Victory Lane at the Lady in Black. With Truex Jr.’s win in the Coca-Cola 600 back in May, Sunday’s victory at Darlington marks the first year that he has won multiple races in a season. The track, Too Tough To Tame has now seen 11 different winners in the last 11 races.
“Well, it just was frustrating to lead laps here throughout my career and even in years when we didn’t run that well at teams I was on, we seemed to run well here and felt like we let a few slip away,” Truex Jr. “It was worth the wait for sure, so we’ll do some celebrating tonight and just can’t thank everybody enough again – everybody at (Joe) Gibbs (Racing), all those guys, great teammates – just so many people I need to thank. The pit crew – man, I can’t say it enough, what a job they did tonight. I appreciate them.”
Kevin Harvick started on the pole and led the first 93 laps before being passed by Brad Keselowski. The first caution of the 367-lap race came out on lap 96, when Trevor Bayne spun trying to get to pit road under green flag conditions.
Brian Scott had an incredibly rough night at Darlington. He brought out the second caution of the night on lap 115 and then he and Tony Stewart tangled down the backstretch to bring out the third caution. The two drivers made contact exiting Turn 2, and it appeared that as they made their way down the backstretch, Stewart clipped Scott and sent him hard into the inside wall. NASCAR called Stewart to a mandatory meeting following the checkered flag on Sunday.
“I was trying to let Tony (Stewart) go there and I think he got inside of me and got loose there,” Scott said. “I was pointing him to the inside to let him go. Apparently he got mad at me. I want to thank Twisted Tea, Ford, Albertsons, Shore Lodge and everyone that came on board. I have a lot of respect for Tony. He has always raced me really clean. I am not sure what he thought was going on there. I am not sure if he thought I was trying to hold him up there, I wasn’t. I was trying to let him go. I even pointed him to the inside. Maybe he thought I was giving him the finger or something. I will talk with him. We will figure it out.”
Jimmie Johnson was the next victim of the Lady in Black. The driver of the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS served a pass through penalty under green on lap 104 after an unapproved body modification penalty. The caution came out 111 laps later for Johnson as he spun off Turn 4 and slammed the inside wall on the frontstretch. Johnson finished out the night 33rd.
Following the single-car accidents of Jeffrey Earnhardt and Greg Biffle, AJ Allmendinger slid up the track and into Ryan Blaney in Turn 2 to bring out the seventh caution on lap 280. Blaney bounced off the wall and continued, but Allmendinger spun through the turn. Allmendinger finished 23rd, but Blaney was able to battle back for a 13th place finish.
“That’s a long race to begin with and we made it longer by having bad racing luck with that caution early in the race, which put us down two laps,” Blaney said. “Then I got into the wall in (turns) three and four that caused a flat tire, then got together with the 47 (A.J. Allmendinger) and we were down two laps. At about the halfway part of the race there wasn’t much to feel positive about but the team kept working and battling and we ended up with a decent finish.”
Tony Stewart’s engine blew up, bringing out the caution on lap 319. His long afternoon finally ended, and he brought home the Bobby Allison throwback No. 14 Coca-Cola Chevrolet SS home in the 35th position. His Stewart-Haas Racing teammate, Kurt Busch got together with Paul Menard in Turn 2, to bring out the ninth caution on lap 328.
“We were trying to get the loose and tight worked out,” Busch said. “He’s (No. 27 Paul Menard) just sideways. He just pushed too hard. That’s what happens when I didn’t give him enough room. He overdrove. I was right there on our limit. It’s the end of our night. It was just a tough night for all the hard work that goes into it. All these races come down to the restarts at the end. There’s no such thing as a long green flag run anymore. And you’ve got to be ready to battle on these restarts. The problem is that everybody’s got good give and take at early in the race, nobody has it at the end.”
The 10th and final caution of the Bojangles’ Southern 500 flew on lap 350 when Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer crashed in Turn 2. Almirola slid up the track and into Bowyer in Turn 1. Bowyer then clipped Almirola head-on into the wall by the time they reached Turn 2.
Martin Truex Jr. led the final 16 laps of the race to earn his fifth career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory. He led 28 laps throughout the night. As for Kevin Harvick, who had to settle for a second place finish, he led a race high of 214 laps. Although Harvick had one of the fastest cars all night long, he believes that the time lost on pit road was the difference in the win and finishing second.
“Oh, it’s just the same old thing,” Harvick said. “You get in position where you bring a dominant car. The guys in the shop and the guys in the garage are doing a great job, and the guys on pit road are doing a terrible job. You get in a position to win races, and they continually step on their toes and don’t make it happen. You’re not going to win races like that.”
Kyle Larson, who finished third failed post-race inspection. Ninth place finished, Ryan Newman also failed inspection following the race. NASCAR will likely announce any penalties on Tuesday. Larson is locked into the Chase; however, Newman is not, and if he receives a penalty it will certainly hurt his chances in making NASCAR’s playoffs.
The final race to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup cutoff will be held on Saturday, September 10. The Federated Auto Parts 400 will broadcast live on 7:30 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN).
Photo Credit: Wayne Thomas