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Truex Jr. Wins 600 With A Record-Trashing Run

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, May 29 2016
Martin Truex Jr. dominated Sunday's 600-miler at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Gregg Ellman)

Martin Truex Jr. dominated Sunday’s 600-miler at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Gregg Ellman)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Domination. That is the only word needed to define Martin Truex Jr.’s performance in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Never before in NASCAR history had anyone conquered the sport’s longest race with such ease. En sprint-logo-08route to his first victory this season and the fourth of his career, Truex set a NASCAR record for the most miles led – 588. That broke the old record of 502.5 miles set by Jim Paschal in the 1967 World 600. He also led 392 of the 400 laps at the 1.5-mile track. That broke the record of 335 also set by Paschal in 1967.

Two more records set by Truex Jr. involved the time of the race and average speed. It was the quickest ever Coca-Cola 600 in the race’s 57-year history. It took 3 hours 44 minutes 08 seconds to complete. The old mark was 3 hours 51 minutes 15 seconds set in 2012 by Kasey Kahne. Truex’s average speed in the race slowed by four caution flags for 19 laps was 160.644 mph. That beat Kahne’s mark of 155.687 mph set in 2012 when there were five caution flags for 23 laps.

“I don’t even know what to say. It’s insane to think about,” Truex said. “There’s so many greats in this sport, so many huge accomplishments that are in the record books. Just for me to be on one of them is just incredible.”

And for team owner Barney Visser, it was the first time a single-car operation had won the Coca-Cola 600 since 1995 when Joe Gibbs Racing accomplished the feat with Bobby Labonte.

“(I’m) not real sure it’s sunk in yet, but just an amazing day; an amazing weekend for all of us,” an emotional Truex said after the victory. “Just a weekend you dream about.

“There are so may 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. The whole weekend was really one of them fairy-tale weekends where it seemed like we couldn’t do anything wrong.”

Truex started from the pole and was never seriously challenged throughout the event. The only time the Mayetta, N.J., native relinquished the lead was during pit stops and once on a restart. Jimmie Johnson led three times for five laps, Paul Menard once for two laps and Joey Logano once for one lap. Kevin Harvick finished second, but even he was 2.572 seconds in arrears.

“I saw him for about 50 miles or 75 miles,” Harvick said about Truex. “The rest of the night I never saw him. I was back there swatting flies in the middle of the pack.”

Johnson, who finished third, said he felt like Truex was “playing with us.”

For Truex, the victory was a bit of redemption for three losses earlier this season. He narrowly missed victory in the season opening Daytona 500, losing to Denny Hamlin by 0.010 second. Then he was the top lap leader at Texas, setting the pace for six times for 141laps, before a wheel issue on pit road relegated him to a sixth-place finish. And at Dover two weeks ago, he was restarting directly behind Johnson when the six-time champion couldn’t get his car in gear and triggered an 18-car crash that dashed Truex’s victory hopes.

“I keep telling him that he had to lose all those races and that God was building his character to win a big one,” said Sherry Pollex, Truex’s long-time girlfriend who is a cancer survivor. “This was a huge one for us and our hometown and our family … and we’ve been through so much. This is just the icing on the cake. It’s awesome. It’s so cool.”

Visser pointed to the organization’s switch from Chevrolet to Toyota during the off-season and its technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing as instrumental in its strong performances this year; a season that has seen Truex lead 809 laps in the first 13 races.

“I know a lot of people were critical of the change, but it was just something we had to do,” Visser said about his Denver, Colo.-based operation. “Martin is very familiar with Toyota and Gibbs; those guys have just been a dream for our guys to work with. None of this happens without Toyota’s support and Joe Gibbs’ support.”

Truex was close to winning last year’s Coca-Cola 600, but lost it on fuel mileage. He admitted the team had talked about it a great deal.

“We really thought about that a lot coming back here,” Truex said. “We were looking for a little redemption.

“The Coke 600 is one of the races everybody wants to win. We came close to the Daytona 500, now to be sitting here, it’s just unbelievable. These are the races that define drivers’ careers, and it’s really a neat opportunity for me.”

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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race – Coca-Cola 600
Charlotte Motor Speedway
Concord, North Carolina
Sunday, May 29, 2016

  1. (1) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 400.
  2. (8) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 400.
  3. (7) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 400.
  4. (4) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 400.
  5. (5) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 400.
  6. (13) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 400.
  7. (27) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 400.
  8. (12) Chase Elliott #, Chevrolet, 400.
  9. (2) Joey Logano, Ford, 400.
  10. (14) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 400.
  11. (6) Greg Biffle, Ford, 400.
  12. (28) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 400.
  13. (24) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 400.
  14. (25) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 400.
  15. (3) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 400.
  16. (15) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 399.
  17. (11) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 399.
  18. (9) Carl Edwards, Toyota, 399.
  19. (23) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 399.
  20. (18) * Ryan Blaney #, Ford, 397.
  21. (19) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 396.
  22. (29) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 395.
  23. (26) Clint Bowyer, Chevrolet, 395.
  24. (21) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 395.
  25. (10) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 395.
  26. (20) Aric Almirola, Ford, 395.
  27. (33) Landon Cassill, Ford, 395.
  28. (31) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 395.
  29. (30) Brian Scott #, Ford, 394.
  30. (17) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 394.
  31. (35) David Ragan, Toyota, 393.
  32. (34) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 393.
  33. (16) Kyle Busch, Toyota, Accident, 392.
  34. (32) Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 391.
  35. (36) * Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 391.
  36. (38) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 390.
  37. (22) Chris Buescher #, Ford, 388.
  38. (37) * Josh Wise, Chevrolet, 387.
  39. (39) Jeffrey Earnhardt #, Ford, 382.
  40. (40) * Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, Clutch, 200.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  160.655 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 44 Mins, 05 Secs. Margin of Victory:  2.572 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  4 for 19 laps.

Lead Changes:  9 among 4 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   M. Truex Jr. 1-77; J. Johnson 78-79; M. Truex Jr. 80-164; J. Johnson 165; J. Logano 166; M. Truex Jr. 167-298; P. Menard 299-300; M. Truex Jr. 301-343; J. Johnson 344-345; M. Truex Jr. 346-400.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  M. Truex Jr. 5 times for 392 laps; J. Johnson 3 times for 5 laps; P. Menard 1 time for 2 laps; J. Logano 1 time for 1 lap.

Top 16 in Points: K. Harvick – 457; Kurt Busch – 421; J. Johnson – 409; Kyle Busch – 405; C. Edwards – 404; B. Keselowski – 404; M. Truex Jr. – 381; C. Elliott # – 374; J. Logano – 373; M. Kenseth – 347; D. Hamlin – 345; A. Dillon – 344; D. Earnhardt Jr. – 341; J. Mcmurray – 318; *. Blaney # – 309; R. Newman – 309.

 

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, May 29 2016
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