To borrow a saying from a television commercial — Martin Truex Jr. and the single-car Furniture Row Racing team won Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway the old fashioned way — THEY EARNED IT!
Steady driving on the bumpy Pocono triangular track, sound pit strategy by rookie crew chief Cole Pearn and an outstanding money stop by the pit crew led Truex to victory lane for the third time in his career and his first with the Denver, Colorado-based team.
For the fourth straight race, Truex led the most laps (97), including the final 27 after his pit crew got him off pit road first. Truex never looked back in his new No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet.
"Well we finally got it," said a jubilant Truex. "That is all I can say we finally got it. We have had a good run. We have had a great season. We have had everything it has taken to win races, we just hadn’t got it done yet. I felt like we had the best car a few times today. The No. 4 (Kevin Harvick) was really good at times and we were really good.
"It just takes a lot of things to go your way to pull these things together. Just can’t thank all my guys enough, Barney Visser (team owner) everybody at Furniture Row, everybody back in Denver for working so hard. This is a brand new race car and they have been working really hard. Just proud of them and thankful to drive great race cars. I am on cloud nine right now."
The victory in the Axalta "We Paint Winners" 400 basically assured Truex a berth in the 10-race, 16-driver post-season Chase playoffs, which begin Sept. 20 at Chicagoland Speedway.
Truex, who actually led four different times during the 160-lap, 400-mile race, held off the past two NASCAR Sprint Cup champions — Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson — to the checkered flag. Truex's margin of victory over runner-up Harvick was 1.346 seconds.
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]The victory snapped a nearly two-year winless streak for Truex, whose last win came at Sonoma Raceway in June 2013. It was the second career win for Furniture Row Racing, which won in May 2011 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.
The result was also Truex's 13th top-10 finish in the first 14 races of the season. He remains second in driver points and and vaulted to third in Chase points.
As he exited his No. 78 Chevy in Victory Lane, Truex raised his arms in celebration and immediately gave a big hug to his girlfriend Sherry Pollex, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer last August.
"Sherry is here healthy and is excited as I am and everything is going well for her," said Truex.
Truex added, “It never gets any better than this. It takes time to heal things especially with what Sherry and I went through. This just kind of makes you forget all about it. Tomorrow we are still going back to normal life. We always try to remember that and be ourselves and remember why we are here and how lucky we are to be doing this. I just feel super blessed to be with this group of guys. They are super impressive and am just proud to drive cars for them."
The Fox Sports broadcast crew called the victory the most popular win of the season. A number of drivers and rival crew members offered their congratulations, including Truex's good friend Dale Earnhardt Jr. who made a personal visit to victory lane to offer his congratulations.
Truex qualified third and stayed up front for all but a few laps. Once he knew he would have enough fuel, he poured it on, registering the fastest lap of the race on Lap 146 — 175.671 miles per hour. There were a number of restarts in the late stages of the race but a resilient Truex was spot on, never relinquishing the lead.
"I am so happy for Martin," said Pearn. "He did an unbelievable job today. All his restarts — he just was 10 out of 10 perfect, and that really made the difference."
Finishing 2-10 were: Harvick, Johnson, Joey Logano, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin.
There were 12 lead changes among six drivers and eight caution flags flew for 31 laps.
The next Sprint Cup Series race is Sunday, June 14 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.
|Car #||Driver||Start||Laps||Laps Led|
|1||78||Martin Truex Jr||3||160||97|
|11||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr||20||160||0|
|41||9||Sam Hornish Jr||24||120||0|
|42||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr||17||105||0|
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]