Martin Truex Jr. dominates to win NASCAR race at Darlington
This time he would not be denied
Martin Truex Jr. wasn't going to be denied, again. Truex put on a dominating performance Sunday to win the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway and showed he is one of the championship favorites only 12 races into the 2021 season.
Truex lead a race high 248 of the 293 laps and ran a near perfect final stage that went caution free winning by 2.51 seconds over Kyle Larson. Larson was the only challenger to Truex all race long with his best shot coming after the final round of green flag pit stops. Larson pitted one lap earlier than Truex, lap 255, and had a 2 second faster stop. When the stops cycled through Truex, who had one point had a 9 second lead, found himself with just a 1.5 second cushion.
Larson was able to get to the bumper of Truex, and the two weaved through lapped traffic as the laps wound down. With five laps to go however, Larson began to slip back and Truex went on to victory.
“We just had a good balance,” Truex said. “The car would do what I wanted it to do. I just had to manage those long runs. It was really loose that last run. I was nervous when the 5 (Kyle Larson) was catching us. We got mired in some traffic there, and that’s always tough.
“We are really lucky to get to do this. I’m so lucky to get to drive for these guys. What an awesome team we have. Hopefully, we can keep this rolling.”
Kyle Busch was third, William Byron fourth with Denny Hamlin fifth.
While Larson did make it close near the end, the first two stages belonged to Truex.
"I was surprised that I was able to get to him,” said Larson. “I caught him, I closed on pit road, was riding and actually had an opportunity to get by and thought I'd stay patient, and he was better on the long run."
It was the second consecutive Darlington race that Truex led the most laps. In last fall’s Southern 500 Truex led 196 laps, but on lap 352 he slid up into the wall trying to re-take the lead and had to settle for a 22nd place finish.
Sunday Truex had no issues. His domination was such that with his sweep of the stages, Truex becomes the first driver to win a stage and the race at Darlington since the advent of Stage racing.
“I’m glad I could do that,” Truex said. We have won a bunch of stage over these last few years – just Lady Luck always got us.”
Kevin Harvick was sixth, Chase Elliott seventh with Ryan Blaney, Chris Buescher and Ryan Newman rounding out the top 10.
Polesitter Brad Keselowski never led only 4 laps had finished 24th three laps down.
Truex now becomes the first multi-race winner of 2021 winning three of the first 12 races of 2021.
“We feel really, really good about that,” Truex said. “I think the most important part is we are winning with the low downforce package, which most of the Playoff races we run are. Phoenix was a really, really big confidence booster for us – to go there and win. I feel like we’ve carried it since there. We just have to keep this thing going. Guys are doing a really good job, all around.”
NASCAR heads to Dover International Speedway for next Sunday’s Drydene 400.
Comes up short again
NASCAR Cup Series Race Results Goodyear 400
Darlington, South Carolina
Sunday, May 9, 2021
1. (4) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 293.
2. (14) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 293.
3. (3) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 293.
4. (5) William Byron, Chevrolet, 293.
5. (7) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 293.
6. (2) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 293.
7. (6) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 293.
8. (16) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 293.
9. (11) Chris Buescher, Ford, 293.
10. (20) Ryan Newman, Ford, 292.
11. (22) Chase Briscoe #, Ford, 292.
12. (10) Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 292.
13. (12) Joey Logano, Ford, 292.
14. (21) Christopher Bell, Toyota, 292.
15. (18) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 291.
16. (9) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 291.
17. (19) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 291.
18. (26) Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 291.
19. (8) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 290.
20. (28) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 290.
21. (23) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 290.
22. (30) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 290.
23. (15) Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 290.
24. (1) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 290.
25. (29) Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 290.
26. (25) Anthony Alfredo #, Ford, 289.
27. (13) Michael McDowell, Ford, 288.
28. (31) Justin Haley(I), Chevrolet, 288.
29. (34) JJ Yeley(i), Chevrolet, 286.
30. (35) Quin Houff, Chevrolet, 286.
31. (36) James Davison, Chevrolet, 286.
32. (32) BJ McLeod(i), Ford, 285.
33. (37) Josh Bilicki, Ford, 245.
34. (33) Cody Ware(i), Chevrolet, Driveshaft, 188.
35. (17) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, Accident, 106.
36. (24) Cole Custer, Ford, Accident, 97.
37. (27) Aric Almirola, Ford, Accident, 5.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 123.562 mph.
Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 14 Mins, 21 Secs. Margin of Victory: 2.571 Seconds
Caution Flags: 6 for 36 laps.
Lead Changes: 19 among 10 drivers.
Lap Leaders: B. Keselowski 1-4;K. Harvick 5-13;K. Busch 14-21;M. Truex Jr. 22-24;T. Reddick 25;C. Ware(i) 26;M. Truex Jr. 27-60;T. Reddick 61;R. Chastain 62-71;M. Truex Jr. 72-92;D. Hamlin 93;M. Truex Jr. 94-110;D. Hamlin 111-114;M. Truex Jr. 115-144;C. Buescher 145;K. Harvick 146;C. Bell 147-149;M. Truex Jr. 150-187;K. Busch 188;M. Truex Jr. 189-293.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Martin Truex Jr. 7 times for 248 laps; Kevin Harvick 2 times for 10 laps; Ross Chastain 1 time for 10 laps; Kyle Busch 2 times for 9 laps; Denny Hamlin 2 times for 5 laps; Brad Keselowski 1 time for 4 laps; Christopher Bell 1 time for 3 laps; Tyler Reddick 2 times for 2 laps; Cody Ware(i) 1 time for 1 lap; Chris Buescher 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 19,11,8,5,4,22,12,9,24,48
Stage #2 Top Ten: 19,18,24,11,5,20,22,8,12,17