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Truex Seals Darlington Victory With A Kiss

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, September 5 2016
Martin Truex Jr. plants a kiss on the finish line at winning at Darlington on Sunday night. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)

Martin Truex Jr. plants a kiss on the finish line at winning at Darlington on Sunday night. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

DARLINGTON, S.C. – Martin Truex Jr. couldn’t help himself; he just had to kiss Darlington Raceway’s finish line after claiming Sunday’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 and no doubt the Lady in Black appreciated his thoughtfulness.

sprint-logo-08After all, the historic 1.366-mile track appears to have developed an affection for team owner Barney Visser and his Furniture Row Racing organization. The team acquired its first-ever victory at the tough track in 2011 with Regan Smith. Now, it has provided Truex Jr. with his first-ever multi-win season.

“It’s been a good season. It’s got potential to be a really great season,” Truex said after becoming the 11th different winner in Darlington’s last 11 races. “We could honestly be sitting here with seven, eight, nine wins if things had gone a little different here and there. I really feel like we’ve got a legitimate shot at this championship.”

One of the victories that slipped from Truex’s grasp was the season-opening Daytona 500. Denny Hamlin snared the win by inches, 0.010 second to be exact. If the finishing order had been reversed, Truex would now be only the third driver in the sport’s history to win its coveted Triple Crown. Comprised of the Daytona 500, Coca-Cola 600 and Southern 500, only two drivers have ever accomplished the feat: Lee Roy Yarbrough in 1969 with NASCAR Hall of Fame team owner Junior Johnson and NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson in 1976 with the Wood Brothers.

“Just to be mentioned with those two names is unbelievable enough,” Truex said. “I can’t believe that about a foot from doing it is incredible. I’m just humbled. The Coke 600 and the Southern 500 in the same year is pretty awesome.”

Crew chief Cole Pearn described winning two crown jewel races in a season as “something you’ll never forget.”

“We’ve had a flurry of either mistakes that we’ve made or being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and for it to all come together … especially where we’re at, going into the Chase here shortly, it’s just perfect timing,” team manager Joe Garone said.

Truex led twice for 28 laps, including the final 16, in a race that was dominated by Kevin Harvick. The California native led the first 83 laps and eventually set the pace on five occasions for 214 of the 367 laps. However, pit stop issues on lap 262 during the sixth caution left him restarting 12th.

“We have championship cars and we’re just mediocre on pit road,” said an angry Harvick, who finished 0.606 second behind Truex. “It’s kind of been that way for a few years. They’ve moved some things around, but it just seems like it’s just week after week after week. You have a couple good weeks here and there and every once in a while you just put together a day, but they just can’t put together a whole day on pit road right now.

“Those guys get paid a lot of money to perform on pit road and cheerleading hasn’t really been working. You’ve got to get after it on pit road and do your job.”

Pearn described Harvick’s crew as his “only sanity check.”

“I’m like, well, at least it happens to them, too,” Pearn explained. “I feel bad for them. They had a great car again tonight. It’s a team sport. Like it or not, you can have one side of the team doing great and the other side struggling. That’s where I was so happy for our pit crew tonight. You’ve got to make so many pit stops here and it was just the perfect night for them to get in a rhythm. I really credit a lot of the win to them.”

Truex ran in the top 10 throughout the race, but didn’t appear in the top two positions until the final 67 laps. At the 300-lap mark he was second and never fell any lower the rest of the race.

The 36-year-old Truex averaged 126.437 mph in the race that was slowed by 10 caution flags for 52 laps. There were 14 lead changes among eight drivers.


NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race – Bojangles’ Southern 500

Darlington Raceway

Darlington, South Carolina

Sunday, September 04, 2016

  1. (8) Martin Truex, Jr., Toyota, 367.
  2. (1) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 367.
  3. (16) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 367.
  4. (7) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 367.
  5. (5) Joey Logano, Ford, 367.
  6. (10) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 367.
  7. (18) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 367.
  8. (14) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 367.
  9. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 367.
  10. (11) Chase Elliott #, Chevrolet, 367.
  11. (6) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 367.
  12. (12) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 367.
  13. (20) * Ryan Blaney #, Ford, 367.
  14. (15) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 367.
  15. (13) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 367.
  16. (24) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 367.
  17. (31) Chris Buescher #, Ford, 367.
  18. (22) Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Ford, 367.
  19. (3) Carl Edwards, Toyota, 366.
  20. (33) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 366.
  21. (32) David Ragan, Toyota, 366.
  22. (27) Clint Bowyer, Chevrolet, 365.
  23. (21) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 365.
  24. (25) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 365.
  25. (28) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 365.
  26. (35) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 364.
  27. (30) Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 364.
  28. (37) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 362.
  29. (40) * Josh Wise, Chevrolet, 361.
  30. (29) Landon Cassill, Ford, 361.
  31. (39) * Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 358.
  32. (26) Aric Almirola, Ford, Accident, 346.
  33. (9) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 328.
  34. (4) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, Accident, 326.
  35. (17) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, Overheating, 317.
  36. (23) Greg Biffle, Ford, Accident, 295.
  37. (36) * Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, Electrical, 250.
  38. (38) Jeffrey Earnhardt #, Ford, Accident, 247.
  39. (34) Brian Scott #, Ford, Accident, 199.
  40. (19) Trevor Bayne, Ford, Engine, 161.


Average Speed of Race Winner:  126.437 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 57 Mins, 54 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.606 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  10 for 52 laps.

Lead Changes:  14 among 8 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   K. Harvick 1-93; B. Keselowski 94-138; K. Harvick 139-162; B. Keselowski 163-164; K. Harvick 165-251; D. Hamlin 252-261; Kyle Busch 262; M. Kenseth 263-272; K. Harvick 273-281; D. Hamlin 282-284; K. Larson 285-329; R. Newman 330-338; M. Truex, Jr. 339-350; K. Harvick 351; M. Truex, Jr. 352-367.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  K. Harvick 5 times for 214 laps; B. Keselowski 2 times for 47 laps; K. Larson 1 time for 45 laps; M. Truex, Jr. 2 times for 28 laps; D. Hamlin 2 times for 13 laps; M. Kenseth 1 time for 10 laps; R. Newman 1 time for 9 laps; Kyle Busch 1 time for 1 lap.

Top 16 in Points: K. Harvick – 840; B. Keselowski – 797; J. Logano – 752; C. Edwards – 746; D. Hamlin – 729; Kurt Busch – 728; Kyle Busch – 727; M. Truex, Jr. – 696; M. Kenseth – 669; C. Elliott # – 659; J. Johnson – 656; A. Dillon – 651; J. Mcmurray – 642; R. Newman – 635; K. Larson – 621; K. Kahne – 598.


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, September 5 2016
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