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Martin Truex Jr. beats Logano to win Coca-Cola 600

by Pete McCole
Sunday, May 26, 2019

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Martin Truex, Jr. wins at Charlotte
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Martin Truex, Jr. rallied back after hitting the wall and took his beat up and broken Toyota Camry to Victory Lane in a wild night of racing in Sunday's 60th-running of the Coca Cola 600 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Truex, Jr. powered to the lead with a thrilling four-wide pass following a restart with five laps to go to beat out Joey Logano and Kyle Busch to score his second Coca Cola 600 victory and the 22nd win of his career.

Chase Elliott and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. rounded out the top five.

Truex's win gave his newly-inducted Hall of Fame car owner Joe Gibbs his fourth Coca Cola 600 victory and spoiled the party for rival team owner Roger Penske - who was hoping to see Logano in Victory Lane and pull off the rare Memorial Day sweep following Simon Pagenaud's win in the Indianapolis 500 earlier in the day.

Truex's race nearly ended as soon as it started after he cut a right front tire and smacked the wall while leading the race on lap 75, but his team rallied back, fixed up the car, and put him back in contention to win.

"I don't know how we did it honestly," said Truex. "I blew that right-front tire earlier and hit the fence off (Turn) 4. I thought man, that's not good. I know this car is pretty banged up. We just fought back from it.

"What a race. Up and down – you never know what can happen in these things. We were so good early on, blew that tire, hit the fence and I'm like ‘we're done. How are we going to fix this thing?', but the guys worked hard, fixed it up."

Tire problems plagued nearly all of the Joe Gibbs Racings cars in the first half of the race, with Erik Jones brining out the first caution after blowing a tire on lap 24, while the Gibbs-affiliated car of Matt DiBenedetto suffered a tire failure on lap 49 and Truex's teammate Denny Hamlin bounced off the wall on lap 162.

After hitting the wall, Truex's team managed to hammer out the fenders on his car and put him back on the track on the lead lap – enough to salvage a ninth-place finish in the opening 100-lap stage.

The crew continued working on the car through the second stage and by midway through the third stage, Truex had fought his way up to the second spot and took the lead away following a round of pit stops on lap 253. Following a back-and-forth battle with teammate Kyle Busch, Truex wrestled the lead away for good with 41 laps to go in the stage and held on to take the green-checkered flag.

The fourth and final stage found Truex and Elliott trading the lead for 89 laps before Brad Keselowski spun to bring out the 16th and final caution flag.

The ensuing caution brought the field to pit round while David Ragan opted to stay out and inherited the lead, with Newman, Truex, Kyle Busch, Elliott, and Logano lined up behind him.

On the restart, Kyle Busch and Newman dived to the inside and took Ragan three wide on the backstretch, but lost too much momentum fighting each other, allowing Truex to dive to the inside from fourth place and pull even as they came into turns three and four. By the time they came to the front stretch, Truex had slid up in front of Logano and into the lead.

Martin Truex, Jr. beats out Joey Logano to win the Coca Cola 600
Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

Once back out in front, Truex was untouchable – beating Logano to the finish by four car-lengths.

The four-wide pass was the only avenue Truex could take to get back to the front, and he went for it.

"I was thinking I was going wherever there was a hole because I wasn't lifting," said Truex. "That's kind of the way it works there. It seemed like the second half of the race for sure the bottom was really where you wanted to be. I had a hole in the bottom to get into (Turn) 3 and I knew that was my only shot. Just barely cleared the 22 (Joey Logano) off (Turn) 4 sideways. He was on my bumper and had me sideways and I hung onto it and luckily finished it from there."

Logano had rallied from his own misfortunes just to finish in the runner-up spot – at one point having dropped all the way out of the top ten. Logano's team wrenched on the car all night and got him back into contention for the final stage.

"I needed (Truex) to go slower, but that's not his job," said Logano. "We had a rough start to this thing.  The guys did a good job fixing it up to where we were competitive at the end and had a shot to win, so that's all you can ask for.  I don't know how we got from where we thought we were gonna be good in practice and then started the race really bad.  I'm glad we made some good adjustments to get somewhat close.

"If you told me we were gonna finish second early in the race, I would have taken it, but when you actually finish second and you see the lead that close you don't want to take it." 

Chris Buescher finished sixth, followed by Alex Bowman, Jimmie Johnson, William Byron and Kevin Harvick.

Winners Quotes

MARTIN TRUEX JR, No. 19 Bass Pro Shops / Tracker / USO Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

You're a two-time winner of the longest race  of the year. You really earned this one today, didn't you?

"I don't know how we did it honestly. I blew that right-front tire earlier and hit the fence off (Turn) 4. I thought man, that's not good. I know this car is pretty banged up. We just fought back from it. We kept working on the car and kept adjusting on the car. What a rocket ship this Bass Pro Toyota was this weekend. I felt good about it in practice, but you just don't know and these mile-and-a-halfs have been tough on us this year - kind of scratching and clawing trying to find something. Kansas a few weeks ago was really a reality check for us. It's one of our best tracks and we really struggled there and knew we had to get to work. Just hats off to the guys for listening to my input and what I had to say. We had a pretty good car at the All-Star race last weekend, but we knew it wasn't good enough. They went to work this week and made it better. I'm just really proud, really happy for everybody at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) back in the shop, Toyota, Bass Pro Shops, Auto Owners, everybody that helps us here. The TRD (Toyota Racing Development, U.S.A.) engine was unbelievable tonight. We overheated early when we had that damage and it held together. I don't know what else to say. Just an awesome team. I'm blessed to drive for JGR. Thanks to Coach (Gibbs) and everybody. It's been awesome."

What were you thinking on that restart with five laps to go?

"I was thinking I was going wherever there was a hole because I wasn't lifting. That's kind of the way it works there. It seemed like the second half of the race for sure the bottom was really where you wanted to be. I had a hole in the bottom to get into (Turn) 3 and I knew that was my only shot. Just barely cleared the 22 (Joey Logano) off (Turn) 4 sideways. He was on my bumper and had me sideways and I hung onto it and luckily finished it from there."

Is there a more special weekend to win?

"I don't know. This is just a special race. The longest race of the year. So much history. What this weekend means for all the soldiers and all those that have given the ultimate sacrifice so we can even be here. The Null Family that's on my car - Chief Petty Officer (Nicholas) Null. I met his family this weekend and they were so appreciative of NASCAR and teams and everybody for doing this. I can't wait to see them here. They said we were going to win and now we get to have a cold beer and celebrate. Just appreciate everybody on this weekend. It's definitely a special one. Kudos to NASCAR and all the teams for putting it all together."

RACE RESULTS

Finish Start # Driver Sponsor/Make Laps Led Points Status
1 14 19 Martin Truex Jr Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER /USO Toyota 400 116 42 Running
2 7 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford 400 0 41 Running
3 3 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Red White & Blue Toyota 400 79 50 Running
4 12 9 Chase Elliott NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet 400 43 47 Running
5 9 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr Fastenal Ford 400 0 32 Running
6 22 37 Chris Buescher Kroger Thrill of the Grill Chevrolet 400 0 31 Running
7 13 88 Alex Bowman Nationwide Patriotic Chevrolet 400 8 39 Running
8 15 48 Jimmie Johnson Ally Patriotic Chevrolet 400 0 32 Running
9 1 24 William Byron Liberty Patriotic Chevrolet 400 31 39 Running
10 5 4 Kevin Harvick Mobil 1 Ford 400 14 38 Running
11 2 10 Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford 400 0 26 Running
12 30 32 Corey LaJoie Superior Logistics Ford 400 0 25 Running
13 19 12 Ryan Blaney DEX Imaging Ford 400 2 29 Running
14 17 21 Paul Menard Menards/Knauf Ford 400 0 23 Running
15 31 38 David Ragan Select Blinds Ford 400 3 22 Running
16 18 6 Ryan Newman Oscar Mayer Hot Dogs Ford 400 0 21 Running
17 20 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Ground Toyota 400 21 29 Running
18 6 41 Daniel Suarez Coca-Cola Ford 399 0 19 Running
19 21 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford 398 76 38 Running
20 26 36 Matt Tifft # Surface Sunscreen/Tunity Ford 398 0 17 Running
21 10 8 Daniel Hemric # Cessna Chevrolet 398 7 16 Running
22 23 34 Michael McDowell Love's Travel Stops Ford 398 0 15 Running
23 28 13 Ty Dillon GEICO Military Chevrolet 397 0 14 Running
24 8 14 Clint Bowyer Peak Antifreeze & Coolant Ford 397 0 13 Running
25 29 43 Bubba Wallace Coca-Cola Orange Vanilla Chevrolet 396 0 12 Running
26 34 96 * Parker Kligerman(i) Gaunt Brothers Racing Toyota 396 0 0 Running
27 11 1 Kurt Busch GEARWRENCH Chevrolet 396 0 13 Running
28 39 77 Quin Houff NASCAR Mobile App Chevrolet 396 0 9 Running
29 36 53 * BJ McLeod(i) Enlisted Nine Fight Company Chevrolet 395 0 0 Running
30 37 27 * Reed Sorenson VIPRacingExperience.com Chevrolet 389 0 7 Running
31 24 47 Ryan Preece # Kroger Chevrolet 343 0 6 Suspension
32 40 66 * Joey Gase(i) MBM Motorsports Toyota 334 0 0 Running
33 25 42 Kyle Larson Credit One Bank Chevrolet 315 0 5 Accident
34 4 3 Austin Dillon Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Chevrolet 315 0 3 Accident
35 33 52 Bayley Currey(i) RWR Ford 245 0 0 Accident
36 35 15 Ross Chastain(i) Cross Country Adjusting Chevrolet 134 0 0 Suspension
37 32 0 Landon Cassill(i) StarCom Fiber Chevrolet 108 0 0 Oil Cooler
38 38 51 Cody Ware(i) JACOB COMPANIES P-40 WARHAWK Ford 51 0 0 Rear Gear
39 27 95 Matt DiBenedetto Procore Safety Qualified Toyota 47 0 1 Accident
40 16 20 Erik Jones Reser's Main St Bistro Toyota 22 0 1 Accident

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