Truex Puts on Clinic in NASCAR’s Longest Race

by Tucker White On Sun, May. 29, 2016

Martin Truex Jr. celebrates winning the Coca-Cola 600. Photo: Brad Keppel

CONCORD, N.C. — Domination was the name of Martin Truex Jr.’s game tonight as he concluded the “greatest day in racing” 2016 with a victory in the Queen City.

The driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota led a race-high of 392 of the 400 laps on his way to winning the 57th annual Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Truex was overcome with emotion following the victory.

“It feels awesome,” he said. “Coca-Cola 600, man, this is one everybody wants to win. 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.

“I mean, I’ve got the best team in the world and we’ve got these Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas flying, man. It’s just fun to drive them and I honestly thought we could have been better tonight and just kept digging and just kept making small adjustments and working on it and I don’t know, man. Here we are, so I was – it was 50 to go and then it was 40 to go and then 30 to go and I just kept praying for no cautions and driving away.”

“Yeah, I mean it’s amazing,” said Sherry Pollex, Truex’s business partner and girlfriend. “I keep telling him that he had to lose all those races and that God was building his character to win a big one and this was huge for us and our hometown and our family and for Johnny (Morris, Bass Pro Shops) and Barney and we’ve been through so much. This is just the icing on the cake. It’s awesome. It’s so cool.”

It’s his fourth career win, first of the season, first at Charlotte and the first time in his career where he’s gone back to back seasons with a least one win. His lap led total is a new record for most laps led in a single race at Charlotte. He also recorded a perfect driver rating of 150.0, which hasn’t been achieved since Kevin Harvick at Phoenix in March 2015.

“Happy” Harvick finished second in his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet.

“Yeah, we struggled tonight,” Harvick said. “Our Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was not very good in the first; I would say 450 miles of this particular race. Rodney (Childers, crew chief) and everybody on our team did a great job to do whatever they did with the air pressure and just told me it was a really big adjustment. The last couple of runs I got tight. The one run when we had the first air pressure adjustment we were really good. The last two runs I was a little bit tighter once I got up behind those guys, right behind them, I just couldn’t go anywhere. Just really proud of the effort to turn the car around. We had a 10th-place car and they turned it into a car capable of racing for the win. That is pretty awesome.”

Jimmie Johnson led five laps on his way to rounding out the podium in his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

“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 finished fourth in his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

“It was a battle, but we kept good track position all day – had one bad restart where I lost some spots, but other than that fourth is about par for us today,” Hamlin said. “The pit crew did an amazing job all day keeping us up front and our car was pretty good at the end. That’s about what we had, nothing else.”

Brad Keselowski rounded out the top-five in his No. 2 Team Penske Ford.

“On the long green flag runs it seemed like we would be able to move up a little bit,” Keselowski said. “On short runs we would fall back, but we definitely didn’t have anything for those guys. The 78 and the 4 were just really fast and Martin Truex deserves this finish. He had a good run.

“It’s a long 600 miles and to come home fifth is decent,” Keselowski added about his night. “It’s not what we want, but we needed a little bit more to be able to run with those guys.”

Kurt Busch finished sixth in his No. 41 SHR Chevrolet. Matt Kenseth finished seventh in his No. 20 JGR Toyota. Chase Elliott overcame an early speeding penalty to finish eighth in his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Joey Logano led one lap and overcame his crew jumping over the wall too soon to finish ninth in his No. 22 Penske Ford.

“We got a pit road penalty,” Logano said. “You’re trying to make pit stops so fast and you’re gonna push everything to the edge. I guess we jumped off the wall a little bit too soon. I haven’t seen it, but unfortunately, that kind of made us make a green flag pit stop, which is really hard to overcome. Overall, we were able to get our lap back by racing up there, which was kind of cool. We didn’t have to take a lucky dog or any of that. We actually raced back to the lead lap, but we lost the balance a little bit on the last run and I couldn’t make much time once we got going.”

Ryan Newman rounded out the top-10 in his No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet.

The race lasted three hours, 44 minutes and five seconds at an average speed of 160.655 mph. There were nine lead changes among four different drivers and four cautions for 19 laps.

Harvick leaves Charlotte remaining the points leader.

C1613_UNOFFRES
** The opinions expressed on this site are not necessarily those of the publisher. All comments other than website related problems need to be directed to the author. (c)SpeedwayMedia.com. **

Leave a comment





Free Shipping on Orders Over $25 at Store.NASCAR.com



Copyright © SpeedwayMedia.com. All rights reserved. - Partner of USA TODAY Sports Digital Properties.