Martin Truex Jr. has led the most laps in the last couple NASCAR Sprint Cup races, but couldn’t close the deal with a win. After qualifying third for Sunday’s Axalta 400 at Pocono Raceway, he had the car to beat during the race. Kevin Harvick gave chase but couldn’t catch the Furniture Row Chevy off the restarts and Truex Jr finally put the No. 78 in victory lane by 1.346 seconds.
The New Jersey native broke a 69-race losing streak with the victory. He came into the Pocono weekend winless since capturing a road-course victory at Sonoma Raceway in June of 2013. He posted top 10 finishes in 12 of the first 13 races of this season and led the most laps in the three races before Pocono, but until now hadn’t seen the checkers.
Sunday, though, it was Truex’s time. He gave his team its second win in the 285 races run since the Denver-based team launched in 2005. In the process, Truex became the 10th different winner of the season and all but guaranteed himself a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
It was a dominating performance for Truex leading 97 laps, the most laps again – 66 of the last 67 in what so far has been the best season of his career. Kevin Harvick, last year’s series champion finished second, his 10th top-two finish in 14 races this season. Third was last week’s Dover winnerJimmie Johnson, and Joey Logano and Kurt Busch filled out the top five.
The long awaited victory was especially touching for Truex, who has been supporting his longtime girlfriend, Sherry Pollex, as she battles ovarian cancer.
“It feels unbelievable,” said a relieved Truex, during his Victory Lane celebration. “I can’t thank all these guys enough on the Furniture Row Chevrolet. What a great group of guys. I knew we were going to get one. Everybody kept asking, ‘When are going to win? When are you going to win? What’s going on?’ I knew we had the team. I knew we had what it took. We just needed things to play out the way we needed them to. I feel like we’re on cloud nine right now.
“Tomorrow we are still going back to a normal life. We always try to be ourselves and remember why we are here and how thankful we are to be here and how lucky we are to be doing this. I’m proud Sherry is here healthy. She’s as excited as I am and everything is going well for her.” The average speed was 134.266 mph with 12 lead changes.
Crafton Wins in Texas
Matt Crafton held off a hard-charging Daniel Saurez on two late restarts to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Winstar World Casino 400K at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday night.
A late caution gave way to the final restart that came with two laps left in the scheduled 167-lap race. Crafton and Saurez raced side-by-side until Crafton was able to get clear out of the fourth turn and stay in front the final lap.
It was the third win this year out of seven races for the points leader and two-time Truck champion, Crafton.