Until the last 80 laps, the Overton’s 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway had the making of another Martin Truex Jr. clinic performance.
He earned the pole for the race, thanks to Kyle Larson’s pole time being tossed after failing post-tech, and led the entirety of the first stage, earning his 14th stage victory and 29th playoff point on the season. He pitted under the stage break, having passed up pit road during the competition caution on Lap 36, and drove his way through the field, earning a sixth-place finish in the second stage.
Truex went back to the lead on Lap 175 and pretty much had the race in check, barring an unforeseen circumstance. That unforeseen circumstance came in the form of a flat right-front tire with 83 laps to go. This forced him onto pit road 20 laps before the rest of the leaders hit pit road for their original final stop and sent him from the lead to a lap down.
Being on significantly fresher tires than the rest of the field, it only took him 12 laps to un-lap himself the old fashioned way and was back in the lead with 55 to go when pit cycle concluded.
But while the tire advantage played in his favor, it swung towards the drivers who just pitted, as Matt Kenseth passed him with ease with 41 to go.
Truex restarted third on the final restart, but didn’t pose a threat to the race lead, thanks to restarting on the bottom, and brought his car home third.
“We were strong for the majority of the race but at the end we lost some speed and couldn’t get to the leader,” Truex said after leading a race-high of 137 laps. “The last restart we got the inside lane, restarted third. It wasn’t the place to be, obviously. I think the 11 (race winner Denny Hamlin) started fourth and that was really the place I would have liked to have been. And then we just didn’t get a good restart on the bottom and lost a couple spots and had to battle back and then just didn’t quite have the speed at the end of the race.
“All in all, it was a hard fought day. We had to come from 24th at one point. A good job by everybody and a solid third place effort. Just didn’t have enough there at the end.”
He leaves Loudon still the points leader, maintaining a 38-point lead over Larson.