Truex Jr. Rallies to Win at Pocono

Truex charges to victory
Truex charges to victory
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

A combination of superior driving and sound pit strategy propelled Martin Truex Jr. to victory Sunday at Pocono Raceway.

The victory was the second of the season for Truex and 17th of his career. It was also Furniture Row Racing’s 16th career win as a team. Truex moved from fifth to fourth in the driver point standings.

Truex, who had runner-up finishes in the last two races at Kansas and Charlotte, came out of the gate strong, winning the first stage at the 2.5-mile triangular track. He then had to rally back to the front after a lengthy pit stop that sent him to 14th place at the start of the second stage.

Truex’s No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota bolted through the field to finish fourth in the second stage. From that point on the Furniture Row Racing driver was a force to be reckoned with as he battled NASCAR’s best — Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick for the win.

Truex led the final 21 laps (140 to 160) and crossed the finish line 2.496 seconds ahead of Larson. Busch and Harvick finished third and fourth respectively.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]“It’s always fun to win," said an excited Truex, who led twice for 31 laps. “But especially when you beat the best guys out there. These two guys (Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick) were so fast today. Honestly, we were all really equal. It was a matter of who could get out front. The 4 (Harvick) and I stayed out on tires. I felt like in practice we were really fast on scuffs (tires slightly worn). Cole (Pearn, crew chief) made a good call to stay out and once I got in clean air, this thing was a rocket ship."

The critical part of the race came during the last three cautions when decisions had to be made on whether to pit or not to pit for fresh tires. Pearn made the call to stay out after each of those cautions and the strategy paid off.

“There wasn’t a whole lot of conversation," said Truex, the reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion. “Cole said stay out and I stayed out. I put a lot of faith in him in making those pit calls. You know, 99 percent of the time, he is right. Honestly, we were really fast in practice. We weren’t quite as fast as some guys. On scuffs we were really fast. We got that clean air out front and we were able to check out."

Truex did a masterful job on the late restarts to maintain the lead.

“You’re always concerned on restarts at Pocono," Truex explained. “So much can happen on those. We were lucky to be able to get a good one. Once we could get clear in Turn 1, we had a fast enough car in clean air that we could hold them off. Those restarts are always nerve-wracking. You never know who can get a push from behind and get a run on you. We were close to Larson on that last one and that could have made it a lot more difficult. Luckily, had great horsepower from TRD (Toyota Racing Development) and I was able to get out front and make it happen.

“Thanks to everybody here at TRD, Toyota, Denver Mattress and Furniture Row. And Bass Pro Shops and 5-hour ENERGY for allowing us to do what we do. Auto-Owners Insurance, TRD, the guys at the track and everyone at the shop back in Denver. It’s a dream to drive these race cars."

The balance of the top-10 finishers were: Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, Aric Almirola, Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano and Chase Elliott.

The race had six cautions for 23 laps and there were 11 lead changes among seven drivers.

The next NASCAR Cup Series race is Sunday June 10 at Michigan International Speedway.

Notes

  • Camry driver Martin Truex Jr. captured his second Cup Series victory of the 2018 season when he won at Pocono Raceway on Sunday.
  • Truex would go on to lead 31 laps in the race at Pocono and won his third stage of the season when he won Stage 1 of the contest.
  • The win was Truex’ second career Cup Series victory at Pocono Raceway – which is considered a home track for the 2017 defending NASCAR champion.
  • In 14 NASCAR Cup Series races this season, Truex has two wins, nine top-five finishes and 308 laps led.
  • Today’s win at Pocono Raceway was Toyota’s sixth Cup Series victory in 14 races this season with Truex winning two races and Kyle Busch winning four.
  • Camry driver Kyle Busch scored a top-three finish in Sunday’s race at Pocono – his ninth top-five and 11th top-10 this season.
  • Busch remains the series points leader by 87 points over the next-closest driver.

MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Furniture Row Racing

Finishing Position: 1st

Were you concerned on the restart with seven to go?

“Yes, you’re always concerned on restarts at Pocono. So much can happen on those. We were luckily able to get a good one. I just can’t say enough about everyone on this team. Cole (Pearn, crew chief) and all of the guys. We did a good job last night. It’s been a really good weekend overall. I feel like we’re getting back to where we were last year. Just thankful for them. Everyone in Denver. Everyone at TRD (Toyota Racing Development). Everyone at Bass Pro Shops and 5-hour ENERGY for all their support this season on this race car. Thanks for Auto Owners for coming on board and Denver Mattress. You can’t forget about all these guys. Tracker Boats and all our friends up here at Pocono. This is a heck of a day. The 4, 18 and 78, we went at it all day long and coming out on top is pretty awesome. Thanks to Toyota Racing and all the guys out in Costa Mesa."

What does it say about your team to go out there and get a win here today?

“It’s always fun to win. But especially when you beat the best guys out there. These two guys (Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick) were so fast today. Honestly, we were all really equal. It was a matter of who could get out front. The 4 and I stayed on tires. We felt like in practice we were really fast on scuffs. Cole made a good call to stay out and once I got in clean air, this thing was a rocket ship."

Tell us about the last pit stop.

“There wasn’t a whole lot of conversation. Cole said stay out and I stayed out. I put a lot of faith in him and making those pit calls. You know, 99 percent of the time, he is right. Honestly, we were really fast in practice. We weren’t quite as fast as some guys. On scuffs we were really fast. We got that clean air out front, we were able to check out. Thanks to everybody here at TRD, Denver Mattress and Furniture Row. And Bass Pro Shops and 5-hour ENERGY for allowing us to do what we do. Auto Owners, TRD and everyone who makes it possible. It’s a dream to drive these race cars. Thanks to everyone at Toyota and TRD Engines."

What made the difference in holding off Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson?

“Getting a good restart overall was good. Once we could get clear in Turn 1, we had a fast enough car in clean air that we could hold them off. Those restarts are always nerve-wracking. You never know who can get a push from behind and get a run on you. We were close to Larson on that last one and that could have made it a lot more difficult. Luckily, had great horsepower from TRD and I was able to get out front and make it happen."

When you restarted 14th, what did you have to do to make it back to the front?

“Be patient. Our car was great on the long-run. There was a lot of cars on the short-run that were as good as we were. It’s so hard to pass here at Pocono. We had to pick them off one at a time and we stayed patient. I tried to save my tires a little bit and by the end of the run, we found ourselves fourth. It was a great comeback and just a strong race car."

Results

Pos St. No. Driver Sponsor/Car Laps Status
1 4 78 Martin Truex Jr. Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota 160 Running
2 13 42 Kyle Larson DC Solar Chevrolet 160 Running
3 5 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Red White & Blue Toyota 160 Running
4 2 4 Kevin Harvick Busch Beer Ford 160 Running
5 17 2 Brad Keselowski Wurth Ford 160 Running
6 1 12 Ryan Blaney Menards/Duracell Ford 160 Running
7 34 10 Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford 160 Running
8 15 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's for Pros Chevrolet 160 Running
9 7 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford 160 Running
10 11 9 Chase Elliott NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet 160 Running
11 20 21 Paul Menard Motorcraft /Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford 160 Running
12 12 3 Austin Dillon Dow Chevrolet 160 Running
13 26 6 Matt Kenseth Ford Ford 160 Running
14 23 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Little Hug Fruit Barrels Ford 160 Running
15 3 1 Jamie McMurray GEARWRENCH Chevrolet 160 Running
16 21 38 David Ragan MDS Transport Ford 160 Running
17 27 37 Chris Buescher Louisiana Hot Sauce Chevrolet 160 Running
18 16 24 William Byron # Unifirst Chevrolet 160 Running
19 6 41 Kurt Busch Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford 160 Running
20 9 14 Clint Bowyer Busch Light Ford 160 Running
21 30 34 Michael McDowell Dockside Logistics Ford 160 Running
22 24 47 AJ Allmendinger Kroger ClickList Chevrolet 160 Running
23 29 13 Ty Dillon GEICO Chevrolet 160 Running
24 18 19 Daniel Suarez ARRIS Toyota 160 Running
25 8 31 Ryan Newman Kalahari Resorts and Conventions Chevrolet 160 Running
26 28 51 Cole Custer(i) Haas CNC/Prefund Capital Ford 160 Running
27 14 88 Alex Bowman Nationwide Chevrolet 160 Running
28 31 15 Ross Chastain(i) Chevrolet 159 Running
29 25 20 Erik Jones DeWalt Toyota 159 Running
30 35 72 Cole Whitt Chevrolet 158 Running
31 33 00 Landon Cassill TW Cable LLC Chevrolet 157 Running
32 37 7 * JJ Yeley(i) Steakhouse Elite Chevrolet 157 Running
33 36 23 Gray Gaulding BK Racing Toyota 157 Running
34 38 99 * Derrike Cope StarCom Fiber Chevrolet 152 Running
35 10 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Office Toyota 146 Accident
36 22 95 Kasey Kahne FDNY Foundation Chevrolet 120 Transmission
37 32 32 Matt DiBenedetto Zynga Poker Ford 113 Brakes
38 19 43 Darrell Wallace Jr. # Weis Markets Chevrolet 108 Engine

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