SPARTA, Ky. (July 8, 2017) – With one lap remaining in Saturday night’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway, Martin Truex Jr. was dominant – enjoying a whopping 15-second lead.
But when Kurt Busch had an engine issue a caution was called, leaving Truex as a possible sitting duck in overtime with old tires while cars behind him pitted for either two or four fresh Goodyears.
But Truex rose to the occasion with a great restart and was eventually declared the race winner after making it past the overtime line when the final caution came out on Lap 274.
The evening at the 1.5-mile Kentucky track also produced another double top-10 performance for Furniture Row Racing with rookie Erik Jones finishing sixth.
Though Truex was dominant in his No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota, he had major concerns when the caution came out with one lap remaining.
“I thought we were done,” said Truex. “Honestly, we had such a good race car I think my main concern was just trying to get out front. If I could get to the lead I thought I’d be ok. Got to thank (Kyle) Larson. He gave me a heck of a shove. I kind of waited until late in the restart zone just hoping I’d get a push because I knew I was going to be struggling and then there was a lot of speed driving down on that bottom groove. I thought that might play into it and I think that helped us a little bit. I was able to clear Kyle (Busch) into (Turn) one and then the rest was history.
“I got to say hi to Sherry (Pollex, girlfriend) back home. She didn’t make it this weekend, so ‘I love you babe’. And all these awesome fans, thank you guys so much for coming out. What an awesome crowd. I hope they enjoyed it and that was a whole lot of fun.“
It was the third win of the season for Truex and his 10th career victory. Eight of his career Cup wins have been with Furniture Row Racing.
Truex’s dominating performance included victories in all three stages plus leading the most laps (152). He is the only driver to score the trifecta and he has done it twice. The other trifecta win was at Las Vegas Motor Speedway earlier in the year. He leads in stage wins at 13 – nine more than the next closest competitor and also leads in playoff bonus points with 28.
“I was worried every lap waiting for a caution, especially at the end,” said Truex. “You’re counting them down – you know the last 30, the last 20, the last 10 and then you get inside of five and you’re like oh my god, there’s no way there’s not going to be a caution and sure enough there was. Fortunately we were able to hold them off. This Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota was just so stout tonight. Cole (Pearn, crew chief) continues to do an amazing job as do all the guys here at the track and guys back at the shop. They have given me fast race cars all year. We’re having a lot of fun.”
At the halfway mark of the season, Truex trails Kyle Larson by one point in the overall driver standings.
Jones, driving the No. 77 SiriusXM Toyota Camry, drove a steady race on the slick track surface to post his fifth top-10 finish of the season. He is 14th in driver points.
“It was a good night for us,” said Jones. “You know we didn’t have the track position all night and it was kind of unfortunate. I think we had a car that probably could’ve run with the 78 and the 18 (Kyle Busch) at times. The SiriusXM Camry was fast. We ran well all day. A good building block for us again. I learned a lot and hopefully some good momentum for New Hampshire.”
Following Truex to the checkered flag to round out the top 10 were: Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Jones, Jamie McMurray, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick and Ryan Blaney.
The race had nine cautions for 39 laps and there were nine lead changes among four drivers.